My recent blogs have focused on why I believe a Utility should lead the way to enable approved third-party access to energy data. Since those posts, several people have asked me what value this would deliver to the consumer.
To answer this, let me share a personal experience with the finance industry. Eighteen months ago, someone I trusted recommended I try a company called Acorns. Acorns can only work by giving them access to your bank account. For every transaction you make, they will round it up to the nearest dollar, take the value that was rounded up from your account and invest it in managed funds. Today, I rarely think about this service, yet I already have a few thousand dollars tucked away. My decision to sign up for Acorns did not come about because the bank offered me this service, nor did it come about because I went looking for this service. It came about because a person I trusted recommended I look into it. I saw enough value that I was comfortable sharing access to my bank account. For those of you who think I am crazy, Acorns entered the Australian market early last year and already has over 250,000 members.
So, when I talk about allowing third-party access to energy data, I am referring to the introduction of services that we as energy consumers don’t know exist, and don’t yet know we want. These new services will deliver value, be simple to use, and will come from sources we trust.
If you’re still struggling to wrap your head around how this could work for energy, here are some examples. How about a service that guarantees your energy bill is accurate? If they discover overcharges, this new service would manage the process of recovering the funds and would take a percentage of the money recovered. No costs to you, no effort on your part, just upside.
Or, let’s say a service would monitor the market and make sure you are always signed up to the best rates for your consumption pattern? If they found a better product, they would ask for your approval to switch, and they would take care of everything to complete the switch. In return, they would receive a percentage of the savings. Again, no cost to you, no effort on your part. Only upside. There are many such examples, but you get the idea.
I find many of us in the utility industry tend to make the same common mistake when exploring new ideas. We ask our customers the wrong questions. If for example, we ask customers if they want to give third parties access to their energy data, that will elicit a very different response than asking if they wanted to receive a free of charge service that would guarantee they saved money.
Don’t you think it’s time to start thinking about the consumer, from the consumer’s perspective, and not from our own?
Look out for my latest book ‘The Digital Utility’, to be published early 2018, and don’t forget to complete the Digital Utility Scorecard. A free, anonymous, online diagnostic that takes about ten minutes to complete. The objective of this diagnostic is to help you start a conversation with your colleagues about what being a Digital Utility means to your organisation.