Key Takeaways from Accenture’s 2014 Study on Consumer Behavior

Published: Fri 18 Jul 2014
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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Accenture’s energy consumer study has gained quite a momentum. This year’s study focuses on various types of consumers and their preference on number of initiatives ranging from communication to distributed energy generation. It’s impossible to cover everything in this short blog; therefore, I’ll highlight key points relating to smart meter adoption, mobile and social media use, and role of customer-driven analytics. I’m excited to see this report since it outlines many business problems that Siemens new Energy Engage Mobile application is trying to solve.

1.    Smart meter deployments spark consumer interest – According to the Accenture study, 93% of the respondents would like to learn more about smart meter functionalities. This is a positive development for the smart meter story around the globe. This data implies that customers who are interacting with smart meters are interested to go beyond what is provided today. In fact, the report states that "only 38% of the decision to enroll in the electricity management program" is due to the impact on the bill. The other 62% decision to manage energy is based on other factors that may involve insights from smart meters. This means having a smart meter does raise expectations for utilities.

2.    Consumers’ trust in utilities has risen, but they expect multichannel communication – The Accenture study clearly depicts that consumers' interest and awareness towards energy use is increasing. Hence, their expectations are rising as well. They expect utilities to interact proactively via social and mobile channels. But they also expect more information on how to save energy and money. Consumer products such as the Nest Learning Thermostat have helped improve perception of energy usage.    

3.    Utilities need to target multiple personas - According to the report, there are two big groups of energy consumers. The energy literate consumer wants proactive communication and outreach. The energy agnostic consumer wants simple and basic options and are a bit "old-school" in the way they interact with energy suppliers. This data underscores the immense work utilities need to do to understand varied type of consumers. This means they need a proactive communication plan via social and mobile but also analytics at the backend to convey insights to the customer.

Call to action for utility professionals - Accenture posits that there’s room for improvement to better inform consumers about multiple services such as price changes. I see this to be an evolving and phased approach. This is very much tied to the type of data utilities is churning and how often. Are utilities using data diagnosis and analytical tools in the right way to convey value to customer operations teams? Does utilities enterprise architecture support a scalable data sharing and insight creation abilities? Utilities that have done smart meter roll outs are testing various scenarios to the above-mentioned effect. Accenture data as well as Siemens engagement with utility companies validate that there are number of exciting opportunities to engage customers and continue the innovation spiral.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

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