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The theme of this year's International Utilities Conference is 'Creating Value in the Digital Energy Network' >>LINK

Utilities globally understand the pressing need to involve their customers as a key partner in the Digital Energy Network. They also understand the enormous opportunity a deep and frequent engagement with their customers presents. However, utilities are also asking how they can compete against digitally-mature market entrants from the telecommunications, automotive, or retail industry. And they are asking how they can compete for the talent of a younger workforce that has grown up in the digital era of consumerism.

I like how one colleague summarized the state of the utilities industry: “The age of disruptive monetization”. I like this statement since it sums up nicely what utilities are facing. Disruption by competition and technology while requiring to increase revenue. However, it also leads right away to a set of concrete To-Dos so utilities can not only mimic the new market entrants but use their strengths to “disrupt the disruptors”.

Just three aspects of this new age:

  1. Look around you and look in the mirror.
    We are all customers. We are constantly connected. We are researching, consuming, transacting constantly. And we do not make a difference depending on the type of product and service we desire. Heck, we surf the web on the mobile phone while watching our favorite show on TV!

  2. Utilities are turning from a commodity provider to a provider of turnkey services.
    This is absolutely the right direction for utilities since they are fulfilling the unmet need of the new energy consumer that almost no other provider can fulfill. From my own experience, it is hard to “get solar”, make the home smarter, more energy efficient, cheaper to run. Heck, most people do not even understand the rate they are paying for electricity, gas or water! A huge opportunity for utilities to shine and help people “get stuff”.

  3. It is a fast-changing marketplace out there.
    People are adding customer-owned devices and sensors like home security products or distributed generation like solar to the digital energy network. Utilities love having all this data produced by these devices. However, this data also creates high expectations from customers for highly personalized service since now the utility should have deep profile of the individual customer, right?
    Do you live up to this challenge or is data “your silent killer”?
    Do you know when to engage with the customer? What are your customers’ “Moments that matter”?
    Can you facilitate between the customer and the 3rd party provider for home security products you are using?
    What types of subscription services can you offer so you can reduce churn?

So many questions. But also so many answers!

I am excited about our “Digital Customer Innovation” track.  First of all, I want to thank our speakers that will present how they extract value from innovating in customer profiling and personalization, in the call center, in self-service and why a well-functioning commerce site is becoming so important so fast. In the end, a customer experience is only well designed when it delivers on the outcome the customer expected. Which customer wants to order again when the experience was sub-par previously?

Additionally, we at SAP want to offer you our experience that we gained from helping hundreds of retail, consumer goods, telecommunication and media companies digitally transform their business. These industries rank high when it comes to customer experience and the rate of innovation.

It is time to bring these best practices and proven tools like the SAP Hybris solution set to the Utilities industry.

See you in April in The Hague!

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