Wide-ranging disruption makes innovation even more important: Insights from EMANZ
Disruption is coming from a number of directions, and becoming more innovative is the best way to respond. That’s the clear message from our survey of attendees at the annual EMANZ (Energy Management Association of New Zealand) conference last week.
Looking at the energy landscape, we asked about disruptive trends, levels of digital service, and innovation in the workplace - all themes that our CIO, John Ascroft, covered when he addressed the audience on Wednesday. The question that remains is how hard businesses are working to create their own cultures of innovation.
Disruptive trends compete for attention
Asked to nominate the single-most pressing trend in energy today, people chose environmental issues, technological changes, business challenges (like managing risk), and infrastructural trends such as the emergence of battery storage. The most popular category, renewable energy and climate change, topped the list with around a third of respondents, but the bigger lesson is that the energy market is being disrupted from multiple angles.
Looking specifically at which technology will prove most disruptive over the next five years (see graph), nearly half of respondents nominated battery storage, followed by electric vehicles, smart grids, photovoltaics, and real-time pricing. While there’s less of a spread of answers here, we still see that no single trend is top of mind.
The importance of innovation - something we can all agree on
A different pattern emerged when we asked about innovation. More than two-thirds described a culture of innovation as ‘Very important’, with the rest calling it ‘A high priority’. This agreement is encouraging in an environment facing so much upheaval.
But how much are EMANZ members working to foster their own culture of innovation? 62% say they have an innovation programme in place, while 38% don’t. Formal programmes can make a big difference to the ideas that organisations generate, and what they do with them. There’s a mismatch between the importance placed on innovation, and what’s being done to actually inspire it.
A harsh lesson for energy providers
When rating the digital services they receive from their energy provider, 50% opted for "Excellent" or "Good but not great", leaving the other half less satisfied. Most worryingly, 15% picked "Non-existent".
These results ought to concern the companies being rated here. EMANZ members value innovation, worry about many types of disruption, and are mostly working to become more innovative themselves. It sounds like only half of energy providers are keeping up.
Building an innovative culture
With EMANZ’s members being so interested in building up their innovative abilities John Ascroft’s address, ‘Applying innovation to accelerate productivity’ was a timely one. EMANZ members have a keen eye on the disruptive forces they face, and a clear idea of the best way to respond. For fans of innovation, the energy market is going to be remain very interesting for the foreseeable future.
More from Jade:
Battery storage, distributed generation, and smart grids are evolving what lines companies do and what they offer. This ebook looks at how to make the transition easier.
In late 2015, we sat down with executives from the distribution industry to hear their take on the future. This ebook covers the big trends that senior leaders are thinking about.
The old way of roughly matching pricing structures to customers and billing them monthly is dying. Change is coming, with most energy companies tackling a set common of problems. Here's a to-do-list to help you on your way.