Customers, not technology, are driving change in the utilities industry
- Feb 11, 2020 8:59 pm GMT
This item is part of the Special Issue - 2020-01 - Predictions & Trends, click here for more
Technology has enveloped us. We have smart devices inside and outside of our homes that share information with our power, water and gas companies every hour—sometimes several times an hour.
Many utilities are still struggling to understand what all this data means, and Oracle Utilities is always ready to help in that process. (That’s my usual pitch, and you’ve likely heard it before.)
Here’s my other pitch: We need to remember that it’s the utility customer, not the technology, that’s actually driving these innovations. Today’s customer transformation will have the most impact on utilities since Edison connected the first power plant in lower Manhattan over a century ago.
However, this customer transformation isn’t how to better deliver electrons, it’s how to understand and monetize the data utilities collect every second of every day in their service area. This is so much more than delivering electrons and billing for kilowatt hours. The commerce that utilities will conduct in the future is beyond electricity. We must use technology not just to make our companies better or smarter, but to be more responsive to a customer’s needs.
And the failure to do so will be very impactful. Large companies have designs on utility customers. These companies already interact with them daily, and have the means to step behind the meter and conduct business that utilities should be doing.
Granted, some utilities may not be ready for this type of business. Dealing only with electric power, gas and water delivery and suddenly having to manage huge amounts of customer data is a hard pivot. However, neglecting these customer desires will have dire consequences.
My personal feeling is that we should never give up a customer. Utilities are universally respected by customers. They deliver essential goods for our modern lives and economy. Most customers prefer to deal with a willing utility, trusting that their data is secure and never compromised. (Oracle is also a respected utility partner; our cloud service is a proven security measure of customer data.)
With this data, utilities have the ability to unlock some amazing opportunities. And the same customer that is seeking these services presents a unique opportunity. Connect with them, seek feedback, and learn from their desires. Every utility has this built-in base upon which to build a whole suite of services. Let’s take advantage of what these customers want today. And while there are a few customers wanting these services today, tomorrow it will be thousands throughout the service area.
For instance, how many people use an app to order food and drinks from a fast food restaurant or a coffee shop? At first there were only a handful using these apps, but sit in any chain coffee shop and see how many walk in, pick up a drink and leave. These customers ordered and paid before entering the store, and never directly interacted with an employee. A utility customer is on the cusp of doing virtually the same thing: ordering services, changing rate plans or reporting a problem—all without making a phone call or sending an email.
Oracle Utilities, including our Opower brand, partners with the world's hardest working electric, water and natural gas companies to empower, enhance and enable your every single day. From cloud-native products and better grid management tools to support for every single step of your customer's journey, we have the answer. Learn more at oracle.com/utilities. Get specific product information as quick as clicking right here.
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