Implementing digital transformation within an organisation can be daunting, and it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint where to start. However, with a realistic strategy, intuitive digital platforms and the right expertise, utilities can remove the barriers to ‘going digital’ and create a business that puts its customers at the centre.
Developing a digital transformation strategy tailored to your business objectives is a crucial first step, and there are several things to consider.
A business needs to understand its goals and determine what success looks like according to its individual needs. In order to do this, it is important for utilities to assess the market and consider what suitable digital technologies and platforms are available. By analysing competition within the industry, or even successful strategies outside their field, businesses may identify key areas of interest that could impact their own success.
When talking about digital transformation, it should always be in the context of becoming more customer-centric. This doesn’t always mean that the customer will necessarily see or feel a change directly, but new products, new delivery mechanisms or new internal processes can help the customer have an improved experience.
Energy retailers in particular should also consider the benefits of researching existing and potential customers. By studying customer experiences, conducting surveys and collecting relevant feedback, retailers can more thoughtfully approach the question of which digital channels to use when connecting with their target customer base.
Crucially, businesses must consider whether the implementation of a strategy will be done internally or externally, and must also take into account that processes need to be adapted for a business’s unique IT requirements. For this reason, it can pay to engage an expert who is both adaptable and experienced in order to optimise value for owners and stakeholders, and improve overall operations.
Engaging the right experts
Morgan Duncan, founder of cloud-based utility billing software provider, Utilibill, said that engaging a trustworthy outside organisation to take care of IT hosting and infrastructure allows businesses to focus on other important initiatives. He also believes that businesses should take an active role in implementing a digital transformation strategy.
“Our team have built a set of implementation tools, a toolkit if you like, which we use internally to conduct billing platform transitions. We strive to self-enable, both because we are a lean organisation, but also because these days utilities need to be fast and nimble if they want to enact change directly,” Mr Duncan said.
“As a result, we have published our toolkit which enables our system integration partners and our utility clients to conduct the onboarding process themselves.
“In addition to our toolkit, we offer the traditional implementation and transition services to those looking for vendor driven transformation to the cloud. We provide the flexibility to mix and match the level of service offered by us and our system integration partners.”
Harnessing advanced technology
Just as a business is only as effective as the staff who work for it, a digital transformation strategy will only be successful if it harnesses the right technology.
When choosing a platform for digital assets, it is important to consider a business’s ongoing accessibility requirements; for example, whether it requires access to real-time data.
Utilibill’s platform is designed with several features to assist utilities in cloud computing. There is nothing to install or upgrade, and everything is remotely managed by Utilibill. With a platform that is compatible with any browser, field technicians are able to update meter reads and workflow in real time from their existing phone or tablet.
“Many utilities come to us just to look after their off-market embedded networks business, which is an area many retail systems don’t address very well. Over time, they usually pick up our full retail offering which provides an end-to-end embedded networks solution as well as an on-market retail solution, all on one unified platform,” Mr Duncan said.
Paving the way forward with automation
One of the most valuable benefits of implementing a digital transformation strategy is improving efficiency.
Utilibill CEO, Igor Green, said that Utilibill’s unique platform has inbuilt automation, meaning that you can rest easy knowing that your processes are implemented without intervention.
“Instead of several humans sitting around and manually going through all the tasks, we’ve automated many of these tasks through various process flows and robots, meaning less resources are required. We use a modern web-based interface that’s very intuitive so there’s also less training for anyone using our platform,” Mr Green said.
“Any retailer that signs up with us will achieve massive efficiency gains, both in the front and back office.”