“Everybody’s talking about digital. You name it; it is digital. It’s a magic word,” said Zarko Sumic, VP, Distinguished Analyst, Gartner in the “Building a Customer Experience Digital Technology Platform for Utilities” session during CS Week 2019.
Sumic noted, additionally, that “digital” means different things to different people, different groups, different utilities and different vendors.
“Whatever your digital ambition is, you don’t have what it takes to make it happen by yourself,” Sumic added, explaining that the average utility’s tech portfolio isn’t really architected to respond to digital innovation and the potential scary “cliff” that digital planning evokes.
So, how does a utility work toward digital without falling off that potentially scary digital cliff? Sumic started with one major concept—what he labeled with this headline a “digital business needs a digital technology platform architecture.”
But, you’re busy looking at that scary digital cliff. So, what does that mean?
Sumic started with some digital business history, and the largest point that utilities have traditionally invested in—namely IT systems (and related employees). That moved to development in analytics. More recently, customer experience has been pulled into the utility’s digital sphere with a goal of better customer connections and happier customers overall.
As the investments continue to move outward and encompass more products and offerings, services and “things,” as Sumic labeled them, it grows into ecosystems that involve partners to make it all work—or at least to make it all work smoothly, which includes having some serious conversations with your own people and your vendor partners, as well.
And Sumic noted that many of the utilities in the room are moving toward that interconnected digital architecture that brings in and ties together employees and customers and vendors, too. (“You may not have that specific plan in mind, but you’ll notice you’re following this trend if you look hard,” he told the audience.)
Sumic noted that, with their Gartner research, customer experience is a growth area for investment—in the top three with BI/data analytics and cybersecurity.
“But why this focus on the customer experience right now?” he said, painting the picture of a foggy crystal ball of the utility future with one singular clear concept: “whatever the future will be, the customer will have a major role in it.”
Sumic went on to note that Gartner data indicated that top utility performers in this industry have customers top of mind, with less of a focus on customers correlating to lower rankings in their data, which should be a wake-up call to any stragglers still believing that all this talk about the customer is just a fad sure to blow on by when the next industry trend comes along.
Editor’s note: Sumic brought up Pace Layering and architecture, which is close to our Oracle Utilities Opower hearts. Get more details on Pace Layers and what that means with this blog on the subject here
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