I have written about the connected home, and how the giant is now awakening. Both startups and established players are entering this space with everyone from home entertainment to white goods manufacturers. Those of us in the energy industry need to ask ourselves, what will our future role be in this space? At this stage in the evolution of the connected home, we just don’t know.
To try and answer this question, energy companies are investing in start-ups to ‘test and learn’. Origin’s investment in People Power and AGL’s in AutoGrid are examples of solutions aimed at gaining deep insights into the consumption behaviour of consumers.
AGL’s investment in August Home, takes this one step further. Like British Gas with its Hive thermostat, this approach relies on selling or giving the consumer a smart device that captures usage data, with the intention of developing insights into their behaviour.
Both approaches are trying to achieve the same goal. We cannot be sure which path is best at this stage. Success will largely depend on the future buying decisions of the consumer.
As energy professionals, we rely on access to energy data to inform our decisions. Whether this is to deliver safe and reliable electricity, low price solutions or environmentally friendly products. So the more data we can access, the better.
With consumer adoption of the connected home, more and more data is going to be generated from smart devices. Access to this data will be vitally important for us to continue to improve the services we offer as both consumer expectations and competition increases.
We have a choice to make when trying to access this newly generated data. We can remain product agnostic and find ways to access the data from all smart devices. We can sell products to consumers that captures the data we want. Or, we can do both.
If we opt for the first option we will need to partner with as many connected home manufacturers as possible, putting agreements in place to access the consumption information. With this approach, we don’t care what products the customer purchases so long as the data is available.
If we go for option two, we need to persuade customers to buy our product. By doing so, we get access to the data we want.
Both options are challenging. It is difficult to put agreements in place with both customers and device manufacturers to access the data from third party devices. However, it becomes even more difficult if those same manufacturers see us as a competitor. The latter option can also create a perception with the customer that we are more focused on selling our products, then helping with their specific energy needs. Either way, this is unchartered territory for most of us.
I don’t envy the decision makers at energy companies given how the future is unfolding. Would you be investing in connected home device manufacturers? Would you be partnering with them to get access to the data? Or, would you try and do both?
Contact me to find out how we help electricity companies use energy data to deliver measureable customer value.
In our book ‘utilidocs™, building blocks to a Digital Utility’ we describe how you can leverage energy data to deliver new and improved services. Get your paperback or kindle version here. All profits go to Solar Sisters.
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