How important are ecosystems for energy suppliers? Our CEO Michel Nicolai and CTO Szilard Toth explore this question in the specialist book “Realizing Utility 4.0” by Oliver D. Doleski. Her chapter, “The power of the ecosystem – and how utilities can harness it, too,” appears in Chapter 3, Volume 2, “Practice of the digital energy industry from sales to innovative energy services.”
In a more digitalized world, the success of energy suppliers will rest on one central foundation: Customer Centricity. However, the times of pre-liberalization paralyzed the energy industry – for a long time, the customer was seen only as a “buyer,” and there was no trace of customer centricity. While there are already numerous approaches to providing customers with more than just electricity and gas through new energy services, the problem is more structural in nature. Utilities still think strongly in silos; areas or requirements are rarely integrated or linked. The existing IT solutions are neither future-oriented nor cross-functional and therefore only of limited use for an end-to-end based customer approach and journey.
As customer needs change with increasing dynamism, an energy supplier on its own has little chance of offering all the new products or services its customers request. The key to success is to harness the power of the ecosystem. When all market participants within the energy industry ecosystem network with each other, a transfer of know-how along the entire value chain is created. This results in enormous innovative power, which in turn creates greater added value for the customer. Digitization enables this networking and know-how transfer on a central platform. The platform approach allows all participants to participate in continuous further developments and improvements, which results not only in agility but also in higher cost efficiency. In the IT landscape of the future, interfaces to other solutions are also elementary, so that data is available flexibly in real time where it is needed. The networked ecosystem thus encompasses not only the various market participants, but the entire system landscape. Only in this way can all the added value, for end customers as well as for energy suppliers, be fully realized.
Conclusion: The power of the ecosystem enables the transformation from a classic energy supplier serving the customer to a modern, customer-oriented energy service provider that can dynamically adapt to customer needs and market developments. Digitization paves the way with the platform approach to become part of this ecosystem and profit from it within a very short time. Within 2 years, the e-pilot ecosystem has grown to more than 50 utilities. As a pioneer of the platform approach, e-pilot’s successes to date demonstrate that the new ecosystem world works in practice for energy suppliers and is rapidly gaining in importance.
The chapter will be published in October 2019 in the reference book “Realizing Utility 4.0 Volume 2: Practice of the Digital Energy Industry from Sales to Innovative Energy Services” by Oliver D. Doleski.
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