10 Oct 2022

Utility Nightmares: 5 things keeping CEOs awake at night

By Jonathan Briggs, Solutions Strategy Manager, Gentrack

It’s a tough time to be a utility CEO. The news is dominated by stories of soaring energy prices, rising costs of living, political turbulence, and the impacts of climate change. The gaze of the media has once again settled on the actions of energy and water suppliers.

Leading an organisation through such unprecedented times, in an already volatile industry would surely keep most of us awake. So, what are the major problems utility CEOs are wrestling with in the middle of the night…?

  1. How to reduce costs

Energy supplier margins have always been tight, while domestic water companies are bound by regulated revenues. Recent global events have doubled down on these challenges with record drought levels and gas wholesale costs. Running a lean and efficient operation and increasing your meter points per employee has never been more important.

  1. How to excel in customer experience

In our 24/7 world customers demand access to information and transaction capabilities at the touch of the fingertips, along with an expectation that whatever they do is captured and understood for when they next contact a company, regardless of channel. With the utilities industry transforming for a more sustainable future, the needs of the customer will only increase in complexity; it is vital that providers go beyond today’s CX and create a total experience which truly engages customers.

  1. How to get ahead in regulatory change

As an essential service it is right that utilities are tightly regulated. But the level of regulatory intervention facing utilities, particularly energy suppliers, is arguably greater than at any time since privatisation. The complexity of regulatory compliance is likely to increase as well; in the short term driven by intervention around the cost-of-living crisis, and in the long term to accommodate for more complex prosumer orientated propositions. Controlling this complexity is key to future success.

  1. How to lead on sustainability

Net zero is the challenge of a generation. The effects of climate change appear to be accelerating and the low carbon agenda is finally gathering momentum. Customers are demanding to be part of the change and utilities need to develop business models to encourage that transition. It is likely to be a costly undertaking but one with potentially huge benefits for all parties.

  1. How to ensure resilience

Given the volatile market, where the pace of change drives the need to constantly adapt and innovate faster, utilities need to make themselves resilient. Resilience requires adaptive and flexible technology while reducing costs, running lean, excelling in total experience, controlling regulatory change and sustainability.

With all these considerations, it might be logical to assume that transforming operating systems would be the last thing a CEO would consider. Transformations ARE a risk. However, done well, transformations are a strategic opportunity and, in the utilities’ world, arguably an existential priority.

Modern next generation solutions will fundamentally shift the business operating model to take advantage of automation, low code no code flexibility and the ability to rapidly innovate and deploy new products and services ensuring the business can successfully navigate the choppy waters of today’s utility industry with minimal disruption.

So, perhaps the risk of doing nothing, of standing still and being left behind, is the biggest risk of all.

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