04 Apr 4 reasons the energy industry needs to fuel up on cloud software
Uphill challenges from big data to customer expectations can drain today’s energy businesses and leave them running on fumes. But thankfully, a fueling station is just ahead: innovative cloud solutions that can meet and exceed the industry’s performance expectations. Many energy companies have already begun stockpiling cloud solutions from Salesforce and Oracle that have increased their data visibility, dynamic pricing ability, energy savings solutions, and customer satisfaction.
One challenge that left sPower, a solar power company, white-knuckled behind the wheel was its disconnected contact information stored in multiple spreadsheets and a non-existent process for recording past business decisions. Essentially, the business was driving without its side and rear view mirrors. These data silos caused confusion, which led to inefficiency and lost profits.
Responding to the distress call, Simplus came to the rescue with Salesforce Sales Cloud in tow. With an integrated solution and single repository for all data, sPower is now in command of its chassis, with a view from all angles.
“I appreciate the Simplus approach and the expertise they brought to the table. Everyone has been incredibly knowledgeable. My team at Simplus was great to work with; I applaud their skill and ability to execute successfully,” states Polly Baranco, Sr. Manager, Commercial Power Marketing at sPower. “This tool is going to change how we do things around here. I refuse to update one more Excel pipeline!”
Exelon companies Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) and Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) faced the challenge of selling the benefits of the smart grid to their customers on a larger scale. In a sense, they had to show customers that trading in their old, comfortable, yet energy-sapping pile of tin for a newer, fuel-efficient model was a worthwhile move. Then, they had to be sure to deliver.
By hooking up with Oracle Utilities Opower to integrate intelligent IT solutions, these companies have brought dynamic pricing rates to millions of customers and increased customer satisfaction. ComEd enrolled four times more customers than expected, and BGE achieved 76% customer participation and 79% satisfaction.
“We’ve provided over 2.4 million dollars in credits back to customers,” says Michelle Ackmann, Manager of Residential Home Efficiency Programs at ComEd. Now that’s some dynamic pricing in action.
Increased energy efficiency
Naturally, the hoped-for byproduct of bringing customers to a smart grid program with dynamic pricing is achieving more efficient energy use.
At the same time, BGE increased customer participation by 500,000 customers between 2013 and 2014, it also saw energy demands reduced by over 200 MW, thanks to the resourceful tools provided through Opower. Now, if that’s not getting farther on a tank of gas…
ComEd sees similar advantages in its software integration solutions. “ComEd is using Opower, Oracle’s home energy reports. We send data-driven insight modules, and with these data modules, customers are encouraged to use less energy,” Ackmann says. “We also have the peak-time savings platform, which Oracle and Opower provide, so this helps bring down generation needs and make sure that we can continue to provide reliable power to our customers.”
“Customer engagement is one of the challenges utilities have,” says Carol Leboffe, EMEA Sales Industry Business Development Leader, Utilities, with Salesforce. “Innovation, technology, and new business models drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Energy companies know that today’s customers are not only looking for savings, but also for all the bells and whistles they are becoming accustomed to in all aspects of their lives.
“When we engage … personally … we buy a ticket online, we check our bank online, or do anything … we are the same customers that go and interact with utilities,” Leboffe says. “A utility customer expects to be treated as in any other industry … Utilities customers are also expecting services—solutions—from their energy provider. The time of commodities is over … It’s not sustainable for a utilities company to sell just commodities. [It’s] up to you where you want to play.”
An omni-channel solution that allows customers to engage seamlessly across all channels, Leboffe explains, is one of the components necessary to meet this challenge. Engie Italia uses Salesforce as a console to deliver its omni-channel service. Since implementing this technology, Engie has seen an increase of 54% in digital customer engagement.
“The winners in the next generation of energy will be the ones who embrace digital transformation early,” states Futurist Peter Schwartz, SVP Strategic Planning at Salesforce. Will your energy business be among the pioneers?
Simplus offers integration services to fuel your energy business with cloud solutions from both Salesforce and Oracle. Contact us today.