Interest ‘high’ on connected home, alternative energy

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

MORE than half of global energy consumers will consider installing connected-home solutions or solar panels in the next five years or purchasing an electric vehicle in the next 10 years, according to a new survey by Accenture.

Interest in connected-home products and services such as energy management and other monitoring and control solutions is projected to rise from seven percent to 57 percent in the next five years, due to the expectation that they will help reduce energy bills, increase comfort and convenience and enable remote control of home devices.

Customer interest in solar panel installations is expected to increase six fold in the next five years, driven predominantly by a desire for energy independence and the availability of subsidies and the ability to reduce environmental footprint.


Consumer choice

“While specialized providers are consumers’ default choice for solar panels and connected-home solutions, energy providers are currently a very close second,” said Greg Guthridge, managing director in Accenture’s utilities industry group. “Despite moving into the home energy market, big-box retailers, phone and cable companies and online retailers rank much lower.”

“In these nascent, rapidly expanding and converging markets, the opportunity to capture market share is a wide-open field. Success will come down to those providers who perfect the digital customer experience,” he said.

The latest installment of Accenture’s annual New Energy Consumer research, Architecting for the Future, published recently, surveyed more than 13,000 individuals in 26 countries and found that a majority of customers are interested in a range of next-generation home and energy solutions from their energy provider, including advice on energy efficiency.

Cut energy bills

Connected-home and alternative energy technologies are appealing to consumers concerned about their energy spend. In fact, 71 percent of consumers believe that their energy provider could do more to help them reduce their energy bills and only 21 percent said that they were comfortable with the reasons provided for recent price increases.

The study also found increased consumer interest in digital enablement channels and tools, but nearly two-thirds of consumers said they experienced challenges when using these channels and only 45 percent said that they were able to complete a given request every time.

More than 80 percent of customers said that they expect the same or better digital service from their energy providers as they do from online retailers, banks, phone and cable companies and even government agencies.


“Many utilities still compare their service levels to other utilities, but our research shows that they need to look to other providers’ digital experiences. Energy providers need to take the hassle out of customer interactions and make them as simple, accessible and convenient as possible,” Guthridge said.

Of particular interest is that digital channel users appear to be more satisfied with their energy providers than non-digital channel users - 67 percent versus 58 percent.

“The digital revolution is causing industry lines to blur and barriers to entry to all but disappear. This is creating opportunities to provide new, interconnected platforms for innovation that bring the connected-home, electric vehicles and alternative energy sources together. The battle for the home has become a cross-industry one. With traditional business models at risk, leading energy providers will need to move quickly to differentiate from new entrants,” Guthridge said. (PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 03, 2014.


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