How utilities can meet changing customer expectations and improve business processes with Oracle Customer Cloud Service (CCS)
It is a well-recognized fact that ageing infrastructure in the utilities industry is a major challenge. But the problem extends beyond transmission lines, high pressure gas pipes and water infrastructure. One study found that in the US, on an average, Customer Information Systems (CIS) used by utilities were 29 years old.[i] The same study found that modernizing the CIS led to better customer experience, improved the ability to handle complex rate demands, enhanced contact center efficiency and extended the lifespan of existing legacy systems.
So is it time for utilities to consider modernizing their CIS platforms? Here are some reasons why:
- Changing behavior and expectations of customers: Customers now want the convenience of digital – digital payment options, more data about their consumption with the ability to determine when and where to receive the data from their utilities.
- Technology trends are changing: The number of technologies such as cloud, automation and IoT are lowering cost of operations while injecting intelligence into systems.
- Mergers and acquisitions: Competition in the utilities market and the need for geographic diversification – unleashed by economic, policy and regulatory trends – has led to consolidation, thereby increasing the complexity of customer data and the systems to manage them.
- Regulatory compliance: Utilities are under increasing pressure from regulators to become transparent and answerable to customers. In Australia, for example, the price settlement interval for the wholesale power market has been reduced to 5 minutes, effective 2021, after being 30 minutes for the last 20 years.[ii]
- Evolving energy portfolio: There is a significant rise in renewable energy sources, leading to varied demands from customers. In addition, consumers are also becoming producers, driving newer ways of work that have to be factored into the CIS systems.
- Cyber security: Data security is a growing concern as breaches in customer data have substantial legal and financial repercussions.
- Smart city programs: Changes such as advanced metering infrastructure, time-based rates and the ability of collective community bargaining to negotiate dynamic pricing as part of smart city programs is placing new demands on CIS.
- Threats/ risks posed by pandemics like Covid-19: Decrease in consumption triggered by unexpected factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic (the power grid in New York experienced a 7% drop in load with a 10% off in prices[iii]) is forcing utilities to provide consumers with daily bill calculations, giving customers a chance to adjust their consumption. Existing CIS systems were not built to take the load of daily calculations, and reconfiguring existing systems can place critical processes such as collections at risk.
The importance of Oracle Customer Cloud Service (CCS)
One of the key criteria for adopting Cloud-based CIS rests on the fact that utilities will be able to retire the diverse systems they struggle to run and manage for processes such as CRM, consumption calculations, billing/ adjustments, collections, etc. With a single system they will benefit from reduced total cost of ownership, faster time to market and the ability to innovate new products, prices and packages.
With Oracle Utilities Customer Cloud Service (CCS), utilities can establish such a unified platform. It addresses changes in the utilities industry by providing the ability to combine and manage data and analytics at scale – CRM, billing, meter data management, device management, smart grid integration, etc. The result is a single solution with a great customer interface and self-service capabilities.
The reasons for modernizing CIS are urgent. Not only will Oracle CCS help contain costs resulting from on-premise failures of legacy systems but will also streamline business processes, integrate more easily with new technologies, be able to handle massive amounts of customer data, and provide utilities the ability to meet new customer expectations. It is imperative that utilities leverage this platform with the help of experienced technology partners, such as Wipro, as they move towards modernizing their CIS infrastructure.