Digital consumers are demanding fast-paced change in increasingly decentralised energy markets. This means that utilities must actively look for ways to bring the outside in – they must become more agile, acquire new capabilities and fuel new revenue streams.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution fundamentally transforming the utilities and energy sectors, businesses must embrace the new emerging technologies that are disrupting the market and develop fresh ways of working if they are to ensure the good times continue.

Across Europe and the wider world, many utilities are leading the way, demonstrating best practice and becoming true Business 4.0 organisations. The best of them are actively seeking collaboration, transforming the skills of their employees and entering into smart partnerships that allow innovation to flourish.

We’ve found four utilities that exemplify all that’s good and innovative in the industry right now. While each example focuses on a different area, they share a common thread: they’re all collaborating with the ecosystem and letting the outside in, to turbocharge change.

 

Engie – creating in-house innovation

Realising the importance of digital and business transformation, French giant Engie built two cross-company ecosystems to drive innovation, spread it across the business and, finally, turn ideas into business-ready projects.

ENGIE Digital is led by a Chief Digital Officer who in turn directs the company’s 24 CIOs, with teams organised into areas of expertise. The Customer Hub is filled with designers and CX specialists, a Studio focuses on agile ways of working, and a Factory houses tech experts, architects and cybersecurity gurus.

All these teams help Engie work towards its long-term goal of becoming a software developer. It is fostering digital communities within the company, identifying and reskilling tech talent, and creating an open culture so that the best of its innovation is shared across the business.

 

Across Europe, utilities are actively seeking collaboration and entering into smart partnerships that allow innovation to flourish.

 

Enel – finding the tools for change

Italian multinational Enel teamed up with CITRIS and the Banatao Institute at UC Berkley to harness startup innovation and bring great ideas into the Enel ecosystem.

CITRIS, a startup and invention incubator with a mission to help solve the world’s most pressing challenges, offers Enel the chance to develop business projects with some of the brightest minds in the US. The startups themselves have the benefit of being mentored by Enel experts in a shining example of win-win collaboration.

 

RWE – fostering change

German company RWE partnered with Siemens on a future-focused tech platform to connect a large number of electricity market participants in a single virtual power plant (VPP) that will greatly improve grid stability.

This was the first cost-effective solution for integrating producers, consumer loads and storage units on a mass-market scale. Thanks to the collaboration, overall system performance will be improved and there will be more ways that distribution system operators can integrate distributed generation to ensure greater stability. It’s a new high-tech backbone for Germany’s energy.

 

AGL – transformation for the customer

In Australia, AGL found that customer trust and transparency had weakened following the impact of brokers on Australia’s energy market.

AGL decided it needed to do something to help its customers buy energy in a clearer, simpler and more effective way. It wanted a cloud-based platform to make price discovery and acceptance much easier for its commercial customers, but it needed to use its ecosystem of partners to get there.

With TCS on board, expertise was pulled in from innovative organisations like the Indian Institute of Technology, among others. This collaboration ensured that AGL was able to put its name to a market-leading service – titled the Business Energy Marketplace (BEM) – that gives customers a much simpler price comparison service.

This is Business 4.0 in practice. AGL collaborated with external partners to transform the experience of their customers. But it also opened up new revenue streams – it now holds the IP to a retailer-agnostic marketplace that will likely expand into other markets in future.

 

Sandeep Simon is the Head of European Utilities for TCS