New Challenges and Opportunities in Smart Energy
A recent report delivered by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative describes how society attitude towards energy and technology is influencing the development of the power generation sector.
Researchers, however, have suggested that more in-depth research is required to understand how the new generation does view energy.Technology has become further ingrained in our society and combined with heightened awareness of environmental issues and energy conservation, influencing the development of the energy market.
The report identifies society are more inquisitive, information hungry and more enthusiastic about energy, climate change, and sustainability. The new generations demonstrate a stronger affinity with technology and more likely to invest in energy-saving technologies.
Rise of Smart Energy Generation
In the New Energy Consumer research program at Accenture suggests that energy markets are experiencing a transformation, disrupting energy business models, indicating that electricity is no longer just a commodity but that companies need to care more about consumers values and needs.
The energy grid is changing and consumer engagement is more apparent, driving energy businesses to become more of a partner with consumers, rather than just a provider.
The alteration to the business model will create challenges but does generate many opportunities. Increasing customer engagement may be a challenge initially, it will drive the development of a new marketplace to provide varied rate deals determined by peak demands and times.
Reports highlight that utility business should be communicating closely with customers to develop the opportunity to extend their knowledge, relationship, and customer loyalty. Consumers are more interested in technology and are more likely to consider a new plan if the technology is associated with it or there is the opportunity to save additional money.
Many energy businesses in the UK and USA have implemented a range of smart energy products and services to consumers. For example, British Gas customers can convert their household into a smart home with the Hive Welcome Home Plan, enabling users to control their appliances via a smartphone app.
Energy businesses need to ensure they stay integrated with technological developments and offer services that customers feel are utilizing the benefits of new technology. Utility companies rarely are regarded high on lists for customer satisfaction and this generally is down to the lack of customer engagement. In the consumer watchdog Which 2017 annual energy satisfaction survey, not a single energy business was in the top ten for customer satisfaction.
Energy companies need to focus more on what customers need, increase consumer engagement, and use technology to create rich data that can benefit the company. For example, companies are harnessing smart meter data, anonymised records, and selling the information based on postcodes.
Based on customer demands, energy businesses should continue developing clean energy schemes and incorporating energy efficiency into their portfolios.
It is also critical to create an effective method of communicating newly developed, sustainable schemes to consumers.
The values and motivations of the energy consumer are transforming and providing new opportunities for the energy market worldwide. If an energy provider can truly engage with its consumers it has the opportunity to really benefit from a range of new revenue streams. The challenge is building customer relationships in an industry that has traditionally lacked any real focus on customer relationships within the business.