Can you imagine a life without smartphones, without apps to help you navigate, play your favorite music or, say, buy insurance for your rental car right before you board a plane? It’s strange how we got used to this new way of living so quickly, because we grew up without any of the digital technologies that define it. Eager to follow suit, organizations are enthusiastically working to make their digital aspirations a reality.
There’s no doubt about it: disruption is in the air for Belgium’s energy market. When it comes to utilities, our country is facing numerous challenges in different areas, including technological, topological, regulatory and sociological changes. At the same time, we have been struggling with persistent paradoxes for quite some time now. Consider, for example, the almost exponential growth of alternative energy sources, while Europe is confronted with energy overcapacity. The debate concerning a nuclear power phase-out, too, is far from over, and our idea to rely more on gas-fired power stations is in no way consistent with the increasing pressure Belgium is under to drastically reduce its CO2 emissions.
The energy sector has faced a major transformation in recent years. The liberalization of the energy sector ensured that energy supply was no longer possible in the traditional “push strategy.” The customer became the center of attention, as customer churn became a common concept within the sector. From now on, an individual could actively choose an energy supplier, something that was impossible before. In their choice, customers were initially often led by favorable pricing. In a later phase, green energy made its appearance and became a decision factor just as valuable as price. In order to tackle these changes, suppliers started recruiting complementary profiles in other sectors that experienced a similar transformation. These recruits came mostly from the financial and telecom world to embrace a more customer centric approach within the organizations.
For utilities, the foundation of the energy marketplace is changing. Increasingly, business models and operational approaches of the past are being stretched to their limits and a tipping point has been reached.
What does this mean for energy providers looking to remain successful in the future?