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How Utilities Can Avoid Complacency and Boost Customer Satisfaction

Steve Ballmer’s first reaction to the Apple iPhone was not his best moment.

During a TV appearance in 2007, the then-Microsoft CEO and current owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, mocked the market potential of the iPhone. With a $500 price tag and no keyboard, the executive felt comfortable saying that Apple’s latest whiz-bang invention was more sizzle than substance.

We all know how that turned out. David Rowan, editor-at-large of Wired U.K., brought up that example at a conference about energy efficiency and the future utility model last year to warn against the perils of ignoring even the oddest-seeming innovation. “Crazy stuff is happening — mining asteroids, 3-D printing of cars, interacting with machines via virtual reality goggles,” Rowan told the audience at the CLEAResult Energy Forum in Austin, Texas. “How do you stay on top of all these changes? How do you change the way your organization thinks? You need an innovation culture.”

Rowan’s call for those working in the utility industry and the broader energy sector to be nimble and innovative is one of the nuggets included in the recently released report, Innovation Outlook: The 2017 State of Energy Efficiency. Geared primarily toward an audience of utility workers, the report’s findings are culled from conversations and speeches about topics ranging from electric vehicles and demand response to energy efficiency and distributed generation, all of which took place at the 2016 conference in Austin. The event and the report were spearheaded by CLEAResult, a consultancy that provides energy-efficiency guidance to utilities and others in the energy sector.

The need for the utility industry to evolve and embrace innovation is only accelerating. “I’ve been in the utility industry, the demand-side management industry for 10 years now,” said Colin Gibbs, CLEAResult’s director of business analytics and author of the report. “Ninety percent of the change has happened in the last 18 months. It has been rapid.”

More here.


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