Creating tomorrow's energy industry

Helmut Scherer • Managing Director, Munich

Go where the power is generated. By your customers.

It’s practically impossible to overstate the importance of the energy industry, which makes the annual trip to European Utility Week such a pleasure. The excitement of an industry in the throes of a monumental change are palpable in the air at the Fira Barcelona venue and the scores of innovative talks, discussions and booths.

The changes happening in the energy industry are also apparent in the EUW app’s activity feed, most obviously in the wealth of polls conducted. The last few days visitors have weighed in on questions like:

  • Will distributed energy systems be the new normal? (94% yes, 6% no)
  • Is storage the biggest disrupting technology? (41% yes, 59% no)
  • Does smart metering need to move beyond billing (90% yes, 10% no)

Results are from Wednesday afternoon.

We all know something is happening and we should all take an active tact towards creating tomorrow’s energy industry where customers are also energy producers, utilities no longer own production assets, the storage issue has been largely solved and smart meters have a real impact on all our lives and energy consumption. A race is on to find the right formula for the market.

We’ve found three questions that we believe are critical for the industry, as well as a few potential answers:

What would an ideal energy company be like from a customer’s perspective?

  • Helps consumers become active participants in the market via smart meters and home automation
  • Empowers consumer impact via their own actions and choices
  • A mentor and a business partner in addition to service provider

In what role can you create the most value in a market where consumers both use and produce energy?

  • As a service provider and a business partner
  • By revolutionizing customer services via the use of data and AI

How can an energy company be a market orchestrator and an energy provider if it doesn’t own the production assets?

  • By creating platforms that allow people to improve their living environment and work towards common goals
  • By creating a context for the wisdom of the crowds
  • By offering people access to the company’s knowledge and resources

As you may have noticed, all our answers basically revolve around energy companies getting closer to their customers. In the future customer-centricity is an all-important competitive factor in all industries.

Customer-centricity requires a deep understanding of people. Some of that understanding will come from the data collected by smart meters, but there’s always more to the picture. We’ve always advocated that our customers’ employees get out of the building and go where people live and work to see what they are up to and what they need. The same applies to the energy industry. Get out of the power station - especially since the power station may not be where you think it is in the future.

Go see what people - and their solar panels - are up to. Go see how they live and work.

This is all somewhat familiar from last year.

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