Millennials Design New Business Models for Utilities

Utilities tap into the immagination of youth for groundbreaking new business models.
Published: Fri 14 Mar 2014

SAP has announced the 2013 winners of the Global Connected Car Contest and the Utility of Tomorrow Innovation Contest. The winners will spend one week in the summer of 2014 working alongside engineers from SAP customers that sponsored the contests, such as San Diego Gas & Electric and other participating companies.

Searching for the next “big idea”

The firm initiated the contest with the aim of tapping into the millennial generation for the “next big idea” in sustainable industries.

University students worldwide were asked to submit solutions across the topics of green energy, smart appliances, sustainable resources and electric vehicles. Five winners were selected across the four categories, including the proposal for Green Home, a green energy mobile app submitted by the Dubai Womens College - Higher Colleges of Technology, located in Dubai, UAE.

Green Home aims to help consumers manage and reduce home electricity use with advanced home energy management systems, combined with an element of gamification to share results over social media. We discuss the benefits of gamification in our article Utilities Use Gamification to Engage Customers.


SAP narrowed down the list of finalists and selected winners who will get the opportunity to refine and implement their proposals with the help of industry experts. The goal is to explore the path to commercial adoption of these innovative ideas.

The innovative applications developed by this year's winners have the potential to impact consumer behavior toward more sustainable practices.

Don’t underestimate the millennial generation

This next generation is a powerful, disruptive force that business and society must accept, embrace and cultivate if they are to remain viable in the future.

According to a BPW Foundation’s Gen Y study, millennials will account for 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025. Smart companies recognize this trend and understand the need to build their business models around this generation.

The millennial generation is expected to have a major impact on future decisions in business, government and the role of technology worldwide. In fact, millennials are the largest purchasing class in the world and as the next greatest generation, companies need to understand them and their needs. Dr Anca-Diana Barbu, Project Manager for Energy and Environment, European Environment Agency, discusses this in our article Utilities: Focus More on Consumer Practices.

Millennials are the most digital, mobile and social generation in the world. They are disruptive and creative, and expect to be recognized in the digital world in a whole new way, explains SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott.

This young generation’s diverse expectations of employers, the workplace and the market itself are forcing businesses to completely reconsider traditional business models.

This generation has grown up with digital tools and social media-it is second nature to them. Today's generation of students, via crowd-sourcing, is able to take full advantage of creative thinking combined with the latest technologies to find more efficient ways to tackle everyday obstacles and make industries more sustainable.

Pleasing the next generation

Millennials have two expectations from any service or application offered to them: first it must be mobile and available whenever they want it, and secondly it must help with the goal of being more sustainable and environmentally responsible. This is according to Gil Perez, senior vice president of Sustainable Industries and general manager of Connected Vehicles, SAP.

"With their focus and unique relationship to technology, we believe this generation can develop groundbreaking new business models. Starting with the automotive and utility industries, SAP is bringing together leading customers from these verticals with the best student teams to take their ideas to the next level. These groups will create financially viable connected services that incentivize consumers to act in an environmentally responsible manner."