Wherever one goes now one sees people with smartphones in hand, checking messages, surfing the web, playing games or snapping and sharing photos, even occasionally making calls. These digital connections are driving new business and social patterns that are irreversible. These consumers want to be digitally engaged – and for savvy businesses they can unleash significant value, research by Accenture has found. According to the New Energy Consumer programme, digitally engaged energy consumers are more satisfied, more likely to participate in energy management programmes, more willing to share energy consumption information and more likely to stay with their energy provider than switch away.
To harness these benefits Accenture recommends a platform approach, bringing together the digital initiatives to enable the development of new products and services. [Digital Platforms Fueling the Next Generation of Innovation in Customer Engagement] They will facilitate the transformation of consumer to prosumer and of today’s utility to that of tomorrow.
Drawing comparisons with the enablement of today’s rich web experience through the commoditization of computing power and cloud computing, Sacha Meckler in a guest editorial argues that we are now in the early stages of a similar evolution in energy. With renewable energy costs dropping and in some cases already lower than coal, a transformational tipping point is created opening the way for exciting changes in the energy system as a whole. [Renewable Energy Tipping Point – Time for System Change]
Increasing volumes of data are impacting every aspect of utility operations from operations to interaction with customers. In order to harness the potential that data offers for market transactions, countries such as Denmark and Norway in Europe, are looking increasingly to a central hub model for supply and demand balancing and settlement. Such a solution is now available out of the box enabling regulators, TSOs and DSOs to enable a self-functioning competitive market. [Central Data Hub Market Brings Opportunities In Europe]
Pilot projects are commonplace today as utilities look to test new and different technologies in their service territories before deploying them on a wider scale among all their customers or across their networks. But while invaluable in gaining experience, their limited scope only partially prepares for a full scale rollout and utilities should also look to the experiences of their peers. In this respect Pacific Gas & Electric’s almost 10 million smart meter rollout – the largest in the US – offers some key lessons, which you can hear from Bill Devereaux, who led the rollout, in an Engerati briefing. [From Smart Meter Pilot To Full Rollout – Lessons From California]
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