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Change is coming: Established businesses will be the next digital disruptors

Digital business, Energy industry - October 27, 2015

energy-disruption.jpgAs digital business transformation takes hold of New Zealand’s energy companies, the industry will see better, faster innovators emerge. But unlike the first wave of digital disruptors to have shaken things up, these new innovators will be established companies.

Size, which used to hold companies back in the digital race, will become a strength. That means that the effects of digital disruption will multiply, along with benefits of leading the charge and the costs of not keeping up.

Which energy companies will surprise New Zealanders by combining a powerful brand with unexpectedly great digital services? The winners will embrace digital business transformation, which brings change to almost every aspect of the company. Culture, technology, and information all play new roles under digital business models. Get this right, and the rewards are waiting for you.

Customers, data, and technology - together at last

The companies that win will put customers in charge by prioritising projects that make their lives easier. Whatever problems need solving, leading businesses will do it with well-integrated data drawn from multiple systems, and by asking how technology can deliver the solution.

It takes innovative thinking to create those solutions, so creative project teams are an important part of any digital business model. To let them be as effective as possible, the right business conditions are crucial as well. Even the best innovative team can’t succeed in a restrictive workplace.

Digital business transformation puts important things in place: A single, solid data platform; a culture that values quick, iterative work rather than imposing rigid constraints; and a collaborative, customer-first approach to designing and building new experiences.

Why is that data layer so important? Because otherwise your customers are held back by what each of your systems can and can’t do. Integrating data from every system gives you a single layer for software (and people) to interact with. This paves the way for more technological leaps - for example, imagine an app that combines metering, CRM, billing, and even fault data to give people a really clear picture of their household and its energy use.

Once your data layer is in place, the next question is what to combine, and how to present it. Innovators work directly with customers to find out what people want, and to quickly test ideas and see what works. Customer feedback fuels new ideas in teams that combine right-brain creativity and left-brain analytics - this silo-busting is another hallmark of digital business - and new products, services, and solutions emerge.

This responsive, agile approach to software design and development pays off for disruptors. Close connections between data, technology, and customers are crucial for innovation. They’re also a sign that your new model of digital business is paying off. You’ll see new products pieced together within hours, not weeks. The actual build time drops to weeks, not months. Ultimately, you get to market ahead of the others.

Digital disruption is going mainstream

The digital business wave is changing patterns of disruption. Being small, and maybe even new to the market, used to be an advantage. It was easier for new entrants, like online-only power retailers, to move fast, and that outweighed disadvantages like low customer numbers, no brand recognition, and only a small pool of skills and industry experience. But the downsides are starting to show: despite all the noise, most consumers have stayed away from these little, loud disruptors.

Unlike before, there’s now a strong blueprint for digital business transformation that gives established companies a route to become disruptors themselves. And as they do, they’ll bring the benefits of incumbency along - their resources, customer base, workforce, and knowledge. Big rewards are in store for the businesses that bring digital disruption to the mainstream. Imagine if the next digital disruptor was you..

This was originally published in Energy News

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