The Future of Utilities – disruption is certain, but is technology the key to success?

by Malcolm Fletcher

Malcolm Fletcher

We were proud sponsors of the flagship Future of Utilities event last week, and were looking forward to hearing from speakers on some of the big themes facing the industry. We weren’t disappointed. Heidi Mottram of Northumbrian water opened the event with a keynote looking at how her business was managing disruption – with a focus on innovation and technology. These themes were echoed throughout the two days. All speakers started with the customer, and then talked about how their businesses were focused on innovation, enabled by technology to deliver real results.

These themes were also clearly recognised in the report that Marketforce published alongside the event: The Future of Utilities 2019. Based on research carried out across industry executives from the water and energy sector, the results were clear; businesses realise that they need to focus on innovating via technology in order to improve customer outcomes and responses.

82% of executives felt that rising customer expectation was fuelling a growing dissatisfaction with utilities – with 94% of respondents saying that this was due to comparing customer service received with that from other tech savvy companies such as Uber and Amazon. And 70% of executives surveyed agreed that utilities are well behind other industries when it comes to adopting technology with 86% saying they believe tech will deliver significant customer service improvements.

So far, so good – we know technology has the potential to dramatically shift how utilities interact with customers. But what other improvements can it drive – and what are the barriers to change? Interestingly, 94% of senior executives identified legacy systems as being the biggest obstacle to the adoption of new technology, although 86% recognised that technology could bring significant operational benefits such as cost reductions.

We spoke in our recently published white paper about how working with trusted partners can help business to adopt new technology, deal with increasing volumes of data and ultimately allow business to scale. This is enforced by the results of the Marketforce survey which found that only 25% of utility executive believe that their businesses are ready to manage the large volumes of data created by the smart metering roll out – a problem that is already becoming a reality as more and more meters go on the wall. Energy suppliers need to know their systems can scale at pace to keep up with this growth of data, and will remain compliant through all the upgrades necessary to keep up with the pace of change across the industry.

These key themes of customer focus, innovating at pace and technological change are clearly going to be keeping the industry busy for years to come. To find out more about how AMT-Sybex can help your business manage this change, download our white paper or get in touch.

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