Consumer Engagement as a Strategic Competitive Advantage
World Class Consumer Engagement
The Australian Retail Energy Market is fiercely competitive with rising prices (primarily due to increased network charges) and switching rates up to 30%. So engaging consumers is more important than ever.
AGL recently presented their fantastic new My AGL IQ customer energy portal at the SAP International Utilities Conference in Copenhagen. My AGL IQ is a world class energy reporting tool for residential and commercial customers with gas and electricity (including basic meters, smart meters and solar feed in) across 4 different jurisdictions in Australia. View the solution in this video.
This is translating to real success in the market place with AGL advertising that 600,000 customers have switched to their service in the state of New South Wales alone.
Building a Solution vs Buying a Service
While CIO Owen Coppage said the implementation of the solution (based on SAP Smart Meter Analytics powered by HANA) had been challenging, he said that he had “no regrets” and that the solution placed AGL one to two years ahead of the competition. Importantly My AGL IQ is built on a flexible platform that allows AGL to continue adding features to keep them ahead of the competition. For AGL it was an obvious choice to build a solution using SAP technologies rather than buy an “out the box” consumer engagement service subscription service. AGL found that buying a service:
- Would not allow innovations to be brought to market faster,
- Would not provide better analytics,
- Would not be cheaper in the long run,
- Would not cover all customers,
- Would not be sustainable in the long run.
Standard Services vs Sustainable Competitive Advantage
To provide a profitable “out the box” consumer engagement service to energy retailers it is logical that any service of this type would need to standardised. This standardisation becomes obvious when you compare the web sites for different retailers that all use the same service provider. Compare the following four examples:
This standardisation is in stark contrast to the innovative and unique customer experience that AGL has built on SAP technologies. Multiple retailers that compete in the same market can build consumer engagement platforms on SAP technologies and offer distinctly different experiences and benefits to their consumers. SAP provides the ability for new innovations to be rapidly brought to market so energy retailers can compete into the future. For example Centrica in the UK co-innovated with SAP on HANA for smart meter analytics and demonstrated an innovative mobile solution for engaging commercial customers.
Leveraging the Asset
Another important factor in build vs buy decision is that an in house solution like SAP allows you to use the same data and high performance
analytics for many important business functions beyond Consumer engagement. AGL touched on the benefits of their HANA platform for energy forecasting in the conference presentation. Tata Consulting Services have provided a case study that describes the broader AGL solution and the business benefits for energy settlement, merchant energy portfolio management and analytics.
SAP continues to release new innovations that help Utilities deliver consumer engagement solutions more rapidly.
Alliander, the largest grid company in the Netherlands, presented their consumer engagement solution at the SAP International Utilities Conference. Alliander co-innovated with SAP to develop the new SAP Customer Energy Management solution. SAP Customer Energy Management uses the same foundational components as SAP Smart Meter Analytics and provides a layer of customer facing analytics, energy services (e.g. Bill shock alerts) and communications infrastructure to enable the rapid build of customer energy portals and mobile solutions. Alliander illustrates the solution in this video.
It is now easier to gain immediate value from the innovation of HANA with the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. This new deployment option combines the power of the HANA real time data platform with the simplicity of the cloud to help you get your solution up and running faster, with less risk and upfront cost – without locking you into the limitations of a standardised “out the box” consumer engagement service.
SAP has also released the SAP Utilities Customer Engagement Mobile App . View the solution in this video. This solution was developed with feedback from CenterPoint Energy in the United States. ASUG members can review a recent webcast by CenterPoint providing their insights on this solution and improving both your customer’s experience and your business with mobile apps.
In October SAP announced the release of the SAP Multichannel Foundation for Utilities solution. This includes a new web self-service portal for utilitiesand a library of services that unlocks CRM and Billing processes and makes it easier to deliver your own web portal features, mobile apps, mobile SMS, social platform content and interactive voice response (IVR) functions. For more information refer the following blog.
AGL has delivered a market leading consumer engagement solution based on SAP Smart Meter Analytics and SAP HANA. Energy retailers that follow their lead and build a strategically competitive consumer engagement platform can benefit from SAP’s ongoing innovations in customer engagement applications.
2015 Update: Please note that SAP Customer Energy Management and SAP Utilities Customer Engagement Mobile App have been superseded by SAP’s next generation suite of customer engagement solutions including SAP Multichannel Foundation for Utilities, Hybris e-Commerce and OpenText Document Presentment. These solutions make a tailored customer experience even more powerful for competitive utilities. You can find the latest information at the Customer Engagement Corner page.