Mobile Workforce Group
This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today.
Somehow, mobile app adoption is decreasing among utilities?
- May 25, 2023 5:21 pm GMT
More than a year ago, I wrote in Energy Central about mobile app holdouts among the utility industry, all based on a JD power study that examined 36 of the largest utilities (electric, water and gas) in the U.S. The numbers then were surprising, 27% of the of largest 36 utilities in the country did not offer a mobile app, despite the winds of the market and customer service blowing toward the need and demand for mobile applications.
Well, the surprises continue. JD Power conducted the same study this year, with the same 36 large utilities. The latest number of utilities without a mobile application increased to 30%, meaning that a few utilities that once had a mobile app abandoned their plans, whether due to disappointing adoption rates or the cost of operation. This could be because introducing a new mobile app can be difficult. According to the same study, customer satisfaction with the mobile experience is 67 points higher among people who are used to the app than first-time users.
This peel back from mobile apps among utilities only emphasizes the criticism of electric utilities as dinosaurs. In many cases, these large electric utilities are the only game in town, monopolizing energy supply, which means there is little market incentive to spending money on something utilities have operated without for their entire lives. What's not clear in this study is customer satisfaction between utilities with a proper mobile app and those without. However, what is clear is that more and more people will use an app if provided. The study points out that 56% of utility customers use the mobile app provided by their utility, a surge from last year's rate of 38%.
Despite more utilities abandoning the mobile app, the move toward digitalization is undeniable. Digital communication is the "first line of communication" between customers and their utilities.
Of course, expanding the mobile reach of a utility means greater cybersecurity risks, but the last thing I expected to see in 2023 is an increase in the number of utilities that do not offer a mobile application. I'm curious what the Energy Central community has to say about this. Why, realistically, would a utility not prioritize a mobile app when 90% of our digital lives are spent inside mobile applications? The writing on the wall appears clear enough.
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