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The convergence in the relationship between energy providers and their customers is moving faster than ever, driven by a want to reduce costs on both sides and a desire for new and novel services. This new relationship is largely facilitated by the advent of new technologies becoming commonplace – technology such as smart meters, smartphone apps and new energy assets.
Each technology plays its own role in profoundly changing customer and supplier behaviour. In recent years, smart meters have enabled us to have a live view of all electricity activity in our homes. Apps, and other tools, help us to visualise and track this activity empowering customers to take control over their consumption.
OVO’s ‘Future of Energy’ event at the Tate Modern on the South Bank in London was ostensibly about celebrating the company’s 10 year anniversary – in which the company, founded by CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick, has grown to around 1.5 million.
With the announced acquisition of the SSE retail customer base of 3.5 million pending – subject to regulatory approval as Fitzpatrick was at pains to point out – OVO will become the second largest energy supplier in the UK with circa 5 million customers - quite a journey and something to be celebrated for sure. The company has relentlessly focused on customer service and experience, and its success in doing so shines through in its customer growth and the numerous customer service or industry awards it was won over the years.
Managing domestic energy assets for the benefit of households and networks
Homes of the future will increasingly have multiple energy assets such as electric vehicles (EVs), , solar PV and battery storage systems. The MADE (Multi Asset Demand Execution) project is all about understanding how to manage these multiple energy assets in a way that is both beneficial to the homeowner and the energy networks.
Poor customer service is one of the big drivers of churn in energy retail. It’s not difficult to recall a time when you’ve felt underwhelmed when querying an inaccurate electricity bill, when trying to understand a change in payment plan or when changing account after moving home.
But under the surface, there’s a fair amount of innovation happening to address customer pain points, particularly in the digital space. Our research points to a transition away from the traditional approach centred around operational efficiency towards a customer-first approach.
The UK has an opportunity to incorporate smart technology and Internet of Things (IoT) into its physical, energy and transport infrastructure, to improve public services and the overall quality of life for its citizens. Over the past few years, the National Government and UK Local Authorities (LA) have been taking proactive steps to implement and support this smart city transition, with key cities such as Bristol, London and Manchester pledging carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier.
City-wide and integrated approach
Energy is becoming more distributed and localised. We’re seeing the emergence of local energy communities, Microgrids and a whole plethora of potentially disruptive business models. To some this represents a challenge to their core business, to others it promises exciting new opportunities.
Today’s Distribution System Operators may fear the threat of grid defection. Even if there remain substantial income generating assets, these may become under-utilised and incrementally less profitable as new entrants cherry-pick the more profitable parts.
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