Author: Håkan Ludvigson
This week, Eliq announced our partnership with CGI – the leading provider of utility billing software in Sweden – making our customer engagement platform available in a seamless integration with the IT giant’s Swedish billing software. The partnership rockets CGI’s BFUS system to the forefront of innovation; can this be the beginning of a new era for an otherwise neglected software category?
I just got back from European Utility Week in Amsterdam a couple of weeks back. The explosion we have seen in innovation on the customer side in recent years is starting to make a real impact on the industry. Ranging from blockchain based peer-to-peer energy trading to smart EV chargers and demand-response solutions, we are witnessing the early signs of real disruption.
In utility billing systems – a software category where the prospect of “meter-to-cash” used to be the ultimate service – this year’s Utility Week saw vendors boasting of new aspects of their software. Customer engagement, seamless user experience and customer-centric were printed on several booths. Yet no major steps seem to have been taken in the developments in customer interfaces. Lowering the utility’s cost to serve remains the core focus of billing software and as a consequence, their end-customer interfaces are designed to enable self-service above all, rather than driving customer engagement, trust and loyalty.
It’s clear that Oracle’s $532 million acquisition of Opower in 2016 and their campaign for customer engagement that followed has started to stir up the miso among billing system software providers. So far, however, little of those efforts have made their way beyond the banners in the trade show stands.
Utilities in the increasingly competitive Europe are screaming for ways to retain their customers from their the advances of their loss-leader competitors. For years, the likes of EY, Accenture and PWC Strategy have been urging utilities to start thinking of their customer relationships as assets and not as costs and the message is starting to come through.
As CGI Sweden realises, with their direct access to smart meter data and the right partnerships, billing systems providers are uniquely positioned to help utilities deploy innovative and engaging customer interfaces.