The Future of Utilities Summit: The industry is changing at a pace like never before

The Future of Utilities

Because we help so many customers in the energy and utility space, TIBCO recently sponsored one of the leading energy and water summits in the UK, the Future of Utilities. Discussions centered around adapting to the changes in the market, digital transformation, the future of electric, gas, and water, and how to improve customer experiences, among other topics. One of the main points of focus was on how important it is to reduce the carbon footprint of society and move towards renewable energy to preserve current energy and water reserves.

Energy preservation is currently a hot topic since the UK signed up to the Carbon Neutrality Coalition. Through this coalition, the UK has committed to altering consumer behavior in order to optimize their consumption of utilities to move the world towards a better future. However, changing consumer behavior is very challenging because water and energy are very basic needs. Consumers also often demand real-time customer support and immediate issue resolution, typically around billing issues.

Higher Customer Engagement is the key to altering behaviors

What utilities have found is that the more engaged customers are, the easier it is to alter their behavior. Companies that have engaged customers can proactively interact with customers and educate them around options to optimize utility consumption. TIBCO has found while working with this sector that consumers can get more engaged when suppliers provide some level of personalization to their services. For instance, those that offer differing day and night rates based on consumption and some visibility into billing changes in energy consumption tend to have happier, more engaged customers.

To increase consumer engagement, utility companies are innovating using technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand data better, provide real-time views of issues to customers, use trained chat-bots to help the customer with frequently asked questions, create mobile applications to drive customer engagement, and more.

The technology opportunity and impact can be described as follows:

  1. Firstly, the provision of a data management layer. This gives utility and water companies a complete view of all the data sources. Some of the use cases that can be addressed with data management include a 360-degree view of the customers and a real-time view of their assets to understand how the assets are performing.
  2. The second critical capability is a visual layer to create interactive dashboards to share and track the data and build an app store to view multiple KPIs such as energy and water usage, customer engagement (NPS scores), or logged quality issues.
  3. The third is a data science layer in the form of recommender systems and anomaly detection to help with applications such as predictive maintenance and asset management, churn and cross-sell/up-sell models to increase sales, forecast models to predict energy consumption usage or predict network outages.
  4. Finally, a streaming and event management layer is needed to send customers notifications in real time based on data science models created or to capture data from IoT sensors to predict network outages quickly, to locate leakages and to take preventative actions in real-time.

Some companies at the conference also talked about consolidating the high number of apps a consumer has to interact with. The utilities and water industry is behind in this area compared to other industries where there are high customer engagements including the world of music, streaming media, and retail.

While it’s true that consumers can be incentivized to be more loyal to their provider through deeper engagement, there are other factors that utility companies need to understand in order to keep customers happy. Two of those factors include understanding why customers switch providers in UK and what can be done to reduce that churn. Utilities also need to address network pain points, solving and preventing infrastructure issues using technology.

The utility industry is experiencing change at a pace like never before and that rate of change looks like it is only going to increase. The growing forces of zero-carbon regulatory compliance (requiring increased spend) coupled with increased competition (meaning a reduction in profits) demands a different, more digitally agile organization. Utility companies need to reduce the cost of the transition whilst increasing market share through differentiated customer experience. It is not those that spend the most on digital transformation that will succeed but those who spend it most wisely. Contact TIBCO today to see how we can help you digitally transform to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry.

TIBCO is very involved with customers in the energy and utility space and you can access some of the customer stories from TIBCO website such as Endesa/Enel Group who are providing solutions to customers as a way to become an energy-as-a-service provider and driving its business forward with e-mobility, distributed generation and storage, and demand management. Also, please visit our industry page to see the benefits, capabilities and some of the solutions we provide for the utility industry.