What an imaginative take on the competitive threats facing the energy industry across the globe! It was presented by a couple of people from SAP Hybris at a recent gathering of people in Amsterdam, at the “Connected Customer: Utilities” Conference from TA Cook, who’s shared concern was how to meet the needs of the “Connected Customer” for Utilities.
Drawn from Germany, UK, Netherlands, Spain, Japan, US, Australia; Innovators, Customer Directors, Product Managers and Technologists, 60 of us got to grips with issues encompassing customer engagement, IT, innovation, data analytics, IoT, AI, Chat Bots, Blockchain, Data Protection.
On a personal level I made my move from presenter and panellist to chairing the 2 days, and I loved it.
A genuine shift
I arrived expecting to see the usual standard presentations and for audiences for each session to fluctuate as people “self-selected” which sessions to attend.
I left having made a lot of friends, witnessed full audiences for every session (even though long days) and a thoughtful takeaway from each presenter.
The one big thing for me was I witnessed a genuine shift in mindset. Until now, I have heard people talk about competition coming from outside the sector; insurance, health, transport; the coming of Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla. Until now I have witnessed a lot of “lip service”, as if people feel they should say those things but don’t really believe them.
This time, with this bunch of people, I felt it; the belief that the real challenge is not from incumbents and that connected technology is making it possible and providing the acceleration.
At the end I asked for a show of hands: “who in this room genuinely believes they are sitting with their competitors?”. Not one hand. Clear acceptance that connected customers who are enabled by technology
- expect the best standard, regardless of which sector is involved
- expect services to be customised and tailored to their needs
- expect immediate response anytime, anyplace, anywhere
… and that the place they are experiencing all this is not with utility companies.
So, recognition, acceptance and resolve. But how to compete?
As with Galaxians, perhaps it makes sense to let the new Energy Space Invaders destroy a few of the existing facades and constructs utilities hide behind, maybe even destroy them themselves; to get out in the open in order to have a chance of winning.