SAP International Utilities Conference 2021: Personal Insights
Last month SAP had their annual International Utilities Conference, hosted by TaCook, in the light of the current pandemic situation the event was purely digital, but that was not a show stopper, in fact it was a fully packed event with numerous presentations by our customers, partners and industry experts. The move to a digital platform offered even some advantages: sessions could be watched after the event as they were all recorded. At an in-person event you could only attend in one of the two parallel topic-based sessions; you would have needed to choose one or the other, but now you can attend one and watch the other one later.
I was asked, and happily accepted, to host the Customer Experience (CX) track that was took place on day two. Doing so I came in touch with our customers and partners presenting their projects and talking about their business achievements. In this blog I would like to highlight two sessions and share my thoughts:
Enel is an Italian Utility headquartered in Rome, they are quite successful upgrading their customers to “Smart Meters”, intelligent devices that allow new rates and offerings in the market. In their presentation Rosario Piscopo and Antonio Diotallevi from Enel, jointly with Fabio Viroli from ATOS, explained the technical infrastructure to realize these new innovations, but more importantly they shared details around the structure of these offerings, as those were clearly designed with the customer in mind. That was impressive as this is a shift away from the very “price oriented” focus, supported by the new metering technology. “Ore Free”, what means “Free Hours” in English is a rate plan where the customer, with a second-generation meter, can select a time window of three hours that grants them free energy. And this is true for every day and up to 15 minutes to the actual start time. Absolutely amazing as this “activates” the customer to think more actively about their consumption and use the app (yes, you can simply activate the time window everywhere, even on the go) and therefore interact with the Utility, Enel, way more often. This opens a totally new dimension of opportunities to engage with the customer, they could expand this into offering complementary products and services and get data about the customer usage behavior.
In my last blog I wrote about my personal experience with my electric car. This rate attracts me personally as I can already “program” the charging times for my car, now take this paired with a free energy time window, amazing! Count me in, too bad there is nothing like that in the German market.
The other customer presentation I want to highlight is DTE Energy: Mark Blaszkiewicz and John Bueltel from DTE, jointly with Maureen Bolen and Lee-Wen Teh from Utegration demonstrated the project to drastically reduce the time to market for new products and services. Even though it was very impressive what they did I want to leave technology aside and focus on the business- and customer-benefits.
Creating a new product/rate took DTE two to three months and was a project on its own. You could say, ok if it takes that much time, it is like it is, why worry? Because we live in a fast paced, ever changing world and even in regulated markets, like the one DTE is operating in, it is important to keep up with the expectations from the customers and not only meet their needs, but to exceed them. So, the key is agility, coming up with a new product/service offering idea and push that to a selected segment of target customers and check their acceptance/adoption. This is what DTE achieved, they are able to design and model a new product/service within days, and that includes it to be fully billable, and it does not matter what it is: tree cutting services, green energy rates or solar options, every product and service type is possible.
The Utilities industry is changing, it started several years ago and the transition into a customer focused mindset is still ongoing. New market-trends and -entrants have pushed the companies to think beyond boundaries and the two examples, from Enel and DTE Energy, show in an impressive way the results of that transition.
I am working in the industry for several years and personally impressed by these great ideas and forward-thinking mindset. For sure I will closely monitor these projects as well as others.