Exactly two weeks ago, our product director Joris van Genechten gave an interview at the Future of Utilities virtual conference. The conversation revealed Joris’ view on the state of the utility industry and, more interestingly, his view on its future. Here are some highlights to ponder during the holidays. It includes three stages of action that Joris believes will predict market success.
Q: Joris, what drivers for utility innovation have you observed in recent years?
Drivers for innovation in our market are hard to miss: strong deregulation, a push towards a sustainable agenda, and new, hyper-targeted entrants saturating the market and squeezing margins.
These drivers suggest that the time of simply throwing more assets or people at problems has ended. As a result, we see utilities embrace leaner ways of working. We also see new tools and data technology brought into the limelight.
Today, cost and margin risks are also strong drivers for impactful innovation in the B2B segment. Derisking configuration, pricing, and quoting can yield tremendous results. We’ve seen it happen firsthand at our clients’ business units.
Q: What do you think the next 10 years will bring?
I’m hopeful to see a holistic approach as the norm by 2030.
Imagine an end-to-end, streamlined data organisation. Not an Excel spreadsheet to be seen. Music to our ears!
Data would be exposed to just those who need it, and both repetitive processes and sourcing would be fully automated. We would see levels of combined speed, accuracy, and traceability unheard of in the utility sector today.
In ten years, this approach would also make organisations more humane. Humans will be able to focus their brainpower on the actions that require humans. What more can you ask for to lead the way to a net-zero, renewable world?
By being smart about organising and elevating data in operations, we will thrive in a world where deregulation and green initiatives introduce constant change. This will include financial health, as the cost to serve will be lowered by these initiatives as well.
Q: Let’s say your prediction stands true. Who stands to gain market share and who stands to lose?
I believe winners will go through 3 stages of action, without skipping a step. Stage one is data decoupling, two is gathering data insights, and three is deploying impactful data projects. If you skip or remove a step, you’ll lose. Let me tell you what I mean by that:
- DATA DECOUPLING means organising your sources and decoupling data processes from functional processes. You need an untangled and crisp playing field for step two.
- DATA INSIGHTS can now be gathered properly. This is impossible without properly going through step one.
- DATA PROJECTS can now be set up to improve usefulness, efficiency gains, and intelligence. In the market, we often see big companies skip straight to this step, ignoring step one and two. This is where things can take a wrong turn.
Q: What tools and services should energy companies choose to stay or become winners?
I advise to make two essential choices.
- Choose a suite of modular products that are fit-for-purpose over a one-size-fits-all monolithic solution.
- Choose to invest in a flexible data processing engine. Something to power the beating heart of it all.
Making these two choices now rather than later will avoid tremendous costs in the form of efficiency gains when implemented correctly. Although Gorilla offers solutions on top of a data processing engine, this advice is not just a pitch for our software. We see both our clients and those of our competitors making a switch to less monolithic and more specialised tools. This trend plays into our hand, sure, but it also creates a more cutthroat competitive landscape with many solution providers vying for a limited number of grand transformation projects.
Q: What are the key challenges that utility companies face when serving B2B customers?
Based on my journey at Gorilla so far, I would say there are three key challenges:
- Being flexible enough to follow market changes.
- Being accurate and truth-based in the face of risk and price management. Margins are thin as they are, so a wrong assumption can mean the difference between profit and loss.
- Being fast. You want to respond in minutes, not hours or even days when a big opportunity comes around.
Imagine, sending out 5 variations of a quote based on customer scenarios with confidence in the numbers (truth, not assumptions), all before your competitor has even calculated a first quote. That’s the challenge B2B is facing right now. That’s also where we seek to add value with Gorilla.
That’s all we have time for today. Thank you, Joris.
If you want to get in touch with Joris or another member of the Gorilla team, feel free to reach out below.