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OTHER NEWS 14 Oct 2016

Pöyry event sheds light on utilities’ need to adapt to meet customer needs

On 5 October 2016, Pöyry welcomed more than 100 participants from across the European energy sector, including incumbent utilities and new entrants alike, to a day-long conference: ‘A Customer-Focused Energy Business: Positioning in a Changing World’. The event was kindly hosted by EURELECTRIC at its Brussels headquarters in Belgium.

EURELECTRIC Secretary General Hans ten Berge and Pöyry Management Consulting Director Stephen Woodhouse kicked off the day by noting that falling profitability is placing pressure on energy companies to develop new ways to create value for their customers.  Stephen Woodhouse argued that:

“Catering to more bespoke needs would attract customers and increase revenues – thereby making the customer relationship, not generation capacity, energy utilities’ most important future asset.”

In the first session of the day, speakers highlighted how companies which lack an in-depth understanding of their customers would lose their ability to generate revenue, and gave insights into some of the energy sector’s best practices for developing thriving customer relationships.  

Three further sessions, with keynote speakers from a range of well-known utilities, partners and start-ups provided testimonies concerning different companies’ ground-breaking efforts to engage more intensively with energy customers. Participants saw evidence that utilities are ready to engage with innovative start-ups if the latter can help provide new services to customers that the former could not have developed in-house on their own.

However, the sessions also revealed that start-ups have the possibility to engage customers directly – implicitly suggesting that it could be only a matter of time before some new entrants could become braver and evolve into major customer-facing players.

A fifth session, with speakers from Google Cloud Solutions, Tesla and EURELECTRIC increased the audience’s understanding of the regulatory and technological challenges that will enable or inhibit such a transformation.

The event concluded with a Great Balloon Debate, in which four participants competed for the title of “Europe’s most successful energy company of 2025”. All participants gave compelling accounts for how their companies would achieve this status – yet, after a close vote, Risto Penttinen snagged the winning title for Finnish utility Fortum, with a vision of a company that would derive more than 50% of its revenues from services.

Participants came away convinced that there is value in understanding and meeting customers’ needs, but also apprehensive that it is by no means certain that today’s dominant players will continue to enjoy that position in the future as well. Pöyry’s Management Consulting business, as an advisory group on the cutting edge of the energy sector, stands ready to serve its clients navigate this tricky transition, helping them achieve their own visions about the energy sector of the future.

Pöyry document: Customer-centric Business Transformation