The utilities industry is undergoing a profound shift toward cleaner and cheaper new energy sources, bolstered by consumers investing in electric vehicles and distributed green energy sources. These dynamics require utility companies to create new products and services to further incentivize their customers’ green energy transition, while also building robust, agile platforms that can support those new products and services. To meet these evolving demands, utilities are increasingly turning toward the cloud.
Our recent energy and utilities cloud report revealed that utilities continue to accelerate their cloud journeys, including for customer-related use cases. Within two years, more than 40% of utilities expect to use cloud in the customer experience area. As they seek to achieve new efficiencies and agility, one of their strategic imperatives will be to renew and refresh their customer engagement and billing platforms through a cloud-centric lens.
Overcoming the Limitations of Legacy Platforms
Customer management and billing platforms are considered core to the retail energy business. These systems have traditionally been complex and expensive to maintain. Utilities are finding that enhancing these platforms to support new digital customer journeys — not to mention integrating new products and services — is expensive and time-consuming on legacy platforms.
Cloud-native or “born-on-cloud” solutions for customer management, billing, and other functions are becoming the solutions of choice for utilities aiming to drive rapid and significant improvements to the customer experience. These cloud-native solutions also enable utilities to rapidly integrate products and services that deliver clean energy while providing scalability and enhancing their speed-to-market. Leading utilities companies, including large utilities with customer bases of 20 million or more, are advancing their transformation goals through born-on-cloud platforms.
Cloud’s Role in CX, Branding, and Transformation
One of the cloud’s biggest advantages is its ability to provide a foundation for adopting advanced technologies, allowing organizations to further develop their cloud maturity and expand their overall technical sophistication. Cloud adoption will enable utilities to reposition their IT applications from “built to last” to “built for change.” Accordingly, utilities should leverage their cloud transformations as opportunities to shift their branding and position themselves as digital energy companies.
An increasingly diverse and advanced landscape of niche CIS vendors can now cost-effectively accelerate a utility’s cloud journey and integrate previously siloed data across customer services and billing, including call centers, customer relationship management, metering, billing, payments, and collections. Some vendors are even offering managed services along with the platform and are providing transformation and cost guarantees.
These cloud-based solutions are giving utilities new opportunities to innovate; for example, supporting smart meters that provide an in-depth view of consumption patterns. Many solutions also have the scalability to support emerging capabilities like EV charging, peer-to-peer energy trading, and home energy optimization. As distributed generation creates a need for small, intelligent IoT- and AI/ML-supported agile networks that can respond to ever-changing customer demand, a cloud environment will be an ideal launching pad. Born-on-cloud platforms will also better support the embedded analytics-based insights and automation capabilities that can accelerate deployment and installation times.
Born-on-Cloud: More Than Incremental Change
In the journey ahead, utilities can leverage the power of born-on-cloud platforms and digital technologies to create new paradigms — and not just for managing customers and improving financial scorecards. Cloud-native solutions transform retail processes by providing richer, personalized self-service experiences with greater control, and they enable omnichannel services that are segment- and customer persona-sensitive. These changes, in turn, empower utilities companies to evolve their brand identity and value propositions. By becoming customer-focused and agile in product innovation, utilities companies can ensure that their green energy transition becomes a force that actively drives customer loyalty and retention.