THE 2008 EUROPEAN UTILITY AWARDS
The winners of the European Utility Awards 2008 were announced at the 10th Metering, Billing/CRM Europe in Amsterdam in September.
The awards acknowledge excellence within the industry with recognition of key projects from utilities and their service providors that have applied practical metering, billing and CRM to achieve improvements in performance. The awards were announced by Maikel van Verseveld, Partner of Accenture, who were sponsors of the awards.
“Accenture was very pleased to see the strong field, especially around Business Performance and Innovation, and has high expectations for the winners of 2008 going forward. The Innovation award to Utiliq is well-deserved as they demonstrated it being an easy accessible & environmentally friendly business concept, based on AMI with their S2G (Ship-to-Grid) channel. While the Customer Excellence to RWE N-Power was clearly ahead of time in this turbulent period of fluctuating energy prices, it showed compassion. The Business Performance award was a clear demonstration by Business Stream of a successful carve-out while achieving high performance results.”
The winner in the categorie Business Performance was Business Stream, UK for its Mission Impossible Project – getting to market opening. The opening up of the water market in Scotland is a world first and Business Stream has lead the market. They have not only introduced all the new systems and businesses processes but transformed the culture into a people-led, customer focused business. All in less than 10 months! Legislation meant that the market would open up to competition whether Business Stream was ready or not. In fact Business Stream was the first company to pass all the necessary tests and get their license. Furthermore efficiencies have been made across the business and the programme was brought in under budget. In fact the savings funded the additional cost of the central market authority meaning that the market set-up funded itself. The judges felt that Mission Impossible is the first project in the deregulated water business for commercial customers delivering good performance and customer acceptance.
Business Stream Chief Executive Mark Powles said: “Being recognised on a European stage is undoubtedly a fantastic accolade for us and for the wider Scottish business community. This award recognises the great journey that Business Stream has embarked upon since we formed in 2006 where we have built a strong customer focused organisation around a solid, motivated team. It’s exciting times for our business and our industry as a whole. We are determined to keep moving forward and build our knowledge of the sector and further innovate for customers.”
The winner in the Customer Excellence category was RWE Npower for project ‘Spreading Warmth’. Spreading Warmth was established in 2005 to provide targeted and hands on support and advice for those most vulnerable members of society and to alleviate fuel poverty. The objectives of the project were providing customers with an integrated range of products and services to tackle the whole problem, offering genuine assistance to our customers, which would make a real difference to them and providing targeted solutions which deliver long term benefits. Customer retention and customer satisfaction are the main business benefits. 90% of customers who’ve had a home visit were fairly or very satisfied and 83% of customers held positive initial thoughts of the First Step Programme.
In assessing the project the judjes felt that it was a very impressive example of how a company can fundamentally refocus on the customer by changing the way all staff empathize with customer, thereby impacting positively on ethical, image, environmental and service issues.
The winner in the category Innovation was Utiliq (an Eneco company) for its Waalstroom project; Shore-to-ship concept for inland shipping. Improving air quality through quayside supply based on a Smart Metering platform. This is one of the first successful commercial spin offs off smart metering in Europe. Focus on ease of use and ways to provide users relevant feedback about their energy behavior.
The judges felt that Waalstroom is a clever innovation that works, filling a new business niche, enhancing the environment and improving service to customers. May seem like a small niche for now but the concept is expandable into many other niche areas.
Commenting on the award, Utiliq said: “The goal of our shore-to-ship project is to demonstrate that convenience and environmental benefits can go hand in hand. Our model to supply inland ships with electricity from the shore is the first commercial successful spinoff of Eneco’s AMR platform. It is probably the first European spinoff in the non-regulated market. We are very confident that we can improve this model step by step and make it even more user friendly. Next step for instance is that we will provide the ships with broadband internet via the electricity cabel, using PLC technology. Winning the award is a very nice recognition for our team from the Industry for our attempts to achieve something unconventional.”