Earlier this week, the team from Junifer attended the Smart Energy London Masterclass as sponsors. We presented our thoughts on the smart meter roll-out, and then took part in a series of roundtable conversations with participants on the future of smart and what it meant for consumers. With a diverse range of attendees, conversations varied from the impact on fuel poor, through to National Grid’s thoughts on the growth of Electric Vehicles.
However, one theme was clear – whilst the roll-out of smart meters across the UK is inevitable, it’s still not clear what the future will bring in terms of how they are used. However, engagement and data are key – as other presenters discussed the role that the increase in data will play in customer engagement – and the Carbon Trust outlined their thoughts on making energy efficiency more relevant for people.
Smart metering is many different things to many different people. To some it’s a way to reduce energy consumption in the home, reducing carbon intensity, whilst for others it’s a way to revolutionise the energy grid. Some see it as the answer to fuel poverty by putting power into the hands of the consumers, while for others, it will simply reduce the number of touchpoints that energy customers have to have with their suppliers, thus improving customer perception. Technology companies perceive the future as being full of gadgets and devices that connect us with how we use energy, and suppliers are working out whether Time of Use tariffs will encourage people to avoid peak demand.
One thing is clear with all this – we as an industry need to balance the need for simplicity for the consumer with all of this new innovation and technology. With energy being one of the least engaged purchases that consumers make, and such negative perceptions of suppliers, smart metering does present the opportunity for energy companies to carry out a fundamental shift. But it must be done carefully, and without assuming that consumers WANT all this exciting technology, increased insight into their energy use, and to reduce consumption.
It is apparent that there is no crystal ball, but companies need to be prepared for every future eventuality. The smart revolution brings with it a wealth of data, and a change in what information suppliers will know and hold. Systems will need to be able to handle that data easily, and flex to meet new propositions, products and services.
Junifer is a leading provider of smart systems for utilities. Built with the new smart world in mind, we’re enabling our customers to deliver leading customer service, innovative propositions and low prices.