Traditionally, utility providers have been reluctant to change the way they internally operate and how they interact with consumers. Utility providers not only face direct competitors within their respective markets, but indirect as well – whether that be in the same competitive landscape or not.
As a result, the process of investing in technologies that will drive their organization forward gets prolonged and becomes less of a priority.
The utilities industry experiences constant changes to its competitive landscape, this being one of them. Utility providers are now facing challenges from innovative technologies, the increase in environmentally-friendly utility firms, and growing customer expectations among many other contributing factors that are shaping the market.
Industry disruptors refers to the creation or innovation of a product, service, or operational standards that challenges the pre-existing market leaders. These disruptors often gain traction in their respective markets and eventually create a new norm, replacing the current market leaders and standards.
To ensure utilities meet today’s customer experience (CX) demands and have the ability to keep up with disruptors - that may soon transition into industry competitors - utility providers must embrace technological innovations that drive them into the future.
Here are five emerging technologies that utility providers must embrace if they are to future-proof themselves against forthcoming challenges:
1 - Cloud-based technology
In today’s high-tech world, it’s crucial for companies to offer superior customer experience - whether they have fierce competition or not. One way to improve CX is by improving internal efficiencies. That’s why an increasing number of utilities are turning to cloud-based software.
In fact, a large majority (71 percent) of utilities now use cloud software, up from just 45 percent three years ago, according to a new Oracle survey.
Moving towards cloud-based computing, as opposed to old legacy systems, will bring utility providers a range of benefits including:
- significant cost savings
- operational efficiencies that drive CX
- improved data security
- a more seamless way to store, manage and access information
2 - The use of big data and analytics
Speaking of data, the number of connected smart devices along with data sharing tools exceeds far beyond what utility providers would have ever imagined even 10 years ago, let alone 20. The internet of things (IoT) has meant data can be transferred over networks without requiring the time-consuming human-to-human interaction aspect.
While big data can seem complex, there are a range of technologies that can help automate its management. For utility providers, smart forms are a great addition.
Smart forms, which allows your customers to send and receive information directly from your utility, will give your customer service team the technology they need to completely automate the process of managing, transferring and resolving customer queries. This automation of processes streamlines customer queries and alleviates unwanted stress from tedious, low-priority tasks across all departments.
3 - Augmented and virtual reality
In a previous blog, titled ‘How Utility Providers Can Make Use of AR and VR to Improve Operational Efficiencies’, we spoke about how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are set to revolutionize the utility industry.
AR and VR can help improve a utility’s internal efficiencies, reduce operational costs and provide better customer experiences by automating, simplifying and improving the way utility providers work. AR and VR technologies are unlike any other technology used in the utility space before, but are certain to make a huge impact on the way utilities operate in the future.
For instance, AR and VR can help your utility company with the internal training of employees by deploying real-life work scenarios through AR/VR without jeopardizing the company’s integrity. As a result, the staff of your utility company is better prepared to provide an exceptional customer experience.
4 - Electric vehicle infrastructure
Despite the recent emergence and adoption of Electric vehicles (EVs), they are still expected to impact the future in some way. In fact, BloombergNEF predicts that electric vehicle sales will rise from 2 million in 2018 to 46 million by 2040. To ensure they remain competitive with the disruptive nature of electric vehicles, utility providers must look to start building an EV infrastructure.
EV infrastructure, such as smart charging stations and demand response programs, will ensure utility providers are able to play a bigger role in the ever-growing electric vehicle market - which could explode at any moment. In addition, an increasing number of utilities have been preparing programs to incentivize EV owners to charge during off peak hours, in order to avoid the overload of power supplied to neighbourhoods when EV drivers come home from work and charge their vehicles (for example). Even though the emergence of EV still remains to be in its early stages, it is essential for utility companies to plan and gauge the impact of EV on their power grid.
5 - Self-service customer portals
Improving the utility customer experience is all about putting the customer first. That means creating a customer-centric business model that uses groundbreaking technologies to give consumers the experience they now expect from all companies they do business with.
By using a self-service customer portal, such as the award-winning SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities, you can bring all the features that your customers desire into one easy-to-use platform. This includes everything from:
- Paperless billing
- Direct notifications and alerts sent straight to your customer’s favoured device
- Customer usage and analytics
- Smart metering information
- Outage notifications
- And much more
Want to learn more about why a self-service customer portal is an essential component of any successful utility provider in the modern era? Contact SilverBlaze today.