To Remain Relevant, Utilities Should Start Thinking Like Tech Companies. That is the title of a column that is a favorite of mine. It is a slightly older column (last summer), and worth re-visiting.

The pandemic changes business rules. New energy technology flexes options for customers. Divergent companies enter the electric energy space. Sets the stage for the topic of that column.

The column says that new technologies have made the old system of utility business outmoded. ECC would add that customer expectations have changed that, too. Doesn’t mean that the existing system is outdated everywhere, or all at once. After all, utilities were encouraged to build companies based on that way of business. They built by the rules they were told.

A key to the new approach to the energy business is captured in this paragraph: “It’s often said, ‘during a gold rush, sell shovels.’ We often see companies find success not necessarily by innovating new technology, but through predicting demand for something new and offering services that support it. As the energy landscape evolves, it’s important for utilities to continually re-envision what their ‘shovels’ would be.”

The author of To Remain Relevant, Utilities Should Start Thinking Like Tech Companies is Udi Merhav, who designed and implemented e-commerce and information technology solutions for varied sectors of business, including in energy efficiency and energy demand side management.

While Merhav suggests specific ways utilities can re-invent themselves through service and products, his most important message is about something else.

Let go of the past. Bravely think ahead.

“It’s not uncommon for large corporations to invest in nascent technologies, with the understanding that fostering such markets can reap large benefits to their bottom lines in the future.” Says Merhav. “Utilities have the same opportunity, those utilities that are bolder, more forward thinking will remain part of the energy landscape, while those that languish in evolution, where a choice is made to remain in the comfort zone, will become a thing of the past.”

Customers can ask their utilities to boldly think ahead. Let go of the past. Bravely think ahead.  Someone else will.

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Feature image credit: Unsplash, Israel Palacio