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For most of my career, I have found myself in roles where I face the challenge of achieving value over mere compliance. When I worked in architecture, I tried to introduce practical steps to reduce enterprise debt as opposed to following a strict framework that saw lots of form filling without adding much value. In Cyber Security I founds ways to leverage technology to help people be more productive in a secure way, instead of just focusing on satisfying auditors (which often results in a very expensive exercise in making an organization no more secure).

Today, I have found myself with a similar industry challenge – making easy to consume smart meter data available to customers and their approved third parties.

In recent conversations with industry peers here in Victoria, Australia, I was interested to hear how proudly they speak about customers being able to access their consumption data. Often, this was followed by “but people are not interested, and they don’t use the service.”

To test the theory – I tried to get access to my consumption data. Firstly, I called my retailer. The website offered no clear way to get to the data. When I called to speak with them, they said they were unsure of the service and would get someone to call me back. Next stop, my distributor. My first attempt failed, so I logged a support call. Eventually, I was able to download the file. When I tried to upload it to the Governments comparison site, it failed. So, I checked into the FAQs. I was blown away to see the long pages of instructions and the different rules for different distributors. At that point, I gave up.

Why is this happening you ask? Retailers and Distributors need to make this service available to be compliant. They see no benefit in making it a useful service, so they don’t. They have probably implemented it as cheaply as possible to be compliant.

Approaching customer access to data as a compliance exercise epitomises the problem the industry faces. Although I see the provision of such services as a key differentiator for retailers, no retailer I talk with agrees. As a result, Retailers will continue to be compliant but not add value. The regulator needs to step in and be more prescriptive as to the value this service needs to deliver to the end consumer or authorised third party. Like Green Button in the US, there should be a simple process where the customer approves access to the data and every night that data is exposed in a standard format that an agreed third party can consume and provide value-add services back to that customers.

I feel the current, compliant approach, will come back to bite Retailers as consumers become more vocal about the issue. When it comes to customers, do you design services for value or compliance?


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