Utility Week

Utility Week 28th November 2014

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 28 of 31

UtILItY WeeK | 28th November - 4th December 2014 | 29 Event The delegates Nick Topham Director, customer service and networks, Yorkshire Water "After 25 years of privatisation, we've become reliant on Ofwat's regula tory regime. But now competition is zoom ing in and it's going to blow a hole in this comfortable existence. This is disturbing for some people who have become used to a world where they know the rules." "In some ways a smart meter runs the risk of simply becom ing another thing for consumers to worry about. If we're not careful in the way we develop smart energy services and inter action platforms, we run the risk of going against the require ment to make people's lives easier." Sanjeev Mathur managing director of energy practice, Accenture "There are plenty of examples where companies have tried to diversify and have failed. It's not straight forward. Companies need to think strategi cally about where they can diversify and show competitive advantage against potential new entrants like online retailers." "If you can't get the bill right, you can't expect to jump to a position where people Five key points: The technology mandated in the smart meter rollout could become immediately obsolete. Technological progress may offer the water industry the opportunity to leapfrog energy and take up a position of digital leadership in the utilities sector. Utilities must tread a fine line when developing their digital strategies, ensuring that while giving control to customers, they are not contravening a trend to make customers' lives easier. New entrants are a real threat, although reputational risk will deter some big household names. Trust is key in allowing utilities to innovate with digital channels and data reliant services. Nicola Combe Product manager, british Gas "We must beware of making assumptions on the behalf of cus tomers. It's important to engage customers directly in the devel opment of new servic es. So far our research has shown that, first and foremost, people want to feel in control. Once they feel in con trol, then they might think about opting in to forms of automated energy management." Tony Conway Strategic programmes director, United Utilities "Digital platforms give us the opportunity to empower customers by putting informa tion in their hands. They also enable us to deal with customers' problems before they arise. For instance, we can use data to carry out advanced moni toring of our assets so we have greater control of them." "The water industry has been criticised for being inwardlooking and slow to change. We have learnt a huge amount from the manufacturing industry about using data successfully to improve customer service and efficiency." are willing to give you all their data. Gaining trust is a stepbystep journey. Get the basics right first, then you can hope to move up the hierarchy of permissions."

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