Mobile app development for energy probiders: In-house vs white label vs hybrid

It is no secret that engaging customers has long been a challenge for energy retailers. Traditional communication channels are no longer effective nor live up to the expectations of customers. Other industries have already adopted mobile applications as an effective way to create an ongoing, direct and real-time channel of communication. The last two years have also seen a quick rise in the same trend in the energy industry, in particular in the most competitive markets.

The digitisation and energy transition is disrupting the traditional utility business model. With increased electrification and localisation of energy and a growing range of over-the-top services, sometimes described as Energy-as-a-Service,  customers are looking for experiences from service providers that reflect their values and lifestyles, and they want them at affordable prices.

With increased volumes of data from smart meters and other connected devices, energy customers expect a platform where they can access that data in a way that’s easy to access and digest. Mobile apps are the most popular and successful form of delivering energy insights to customers, and there is a growing demand from consumers to provide that option.

The opportunity now exists to create amazing energy products that solve real challenges for both customers and energy retailers. One question however left to ask yourself is “do we build or do we buy”?

Let’s look at the three options available on the market right now:

In-house – Preferred option by major energy providers with large budgets and time on their hands

This approach requires you to already have or recruit a new in-house team of developers, UX designers and data specialists.

Pros of in-house energy app development

100% control of everything – the customer experience, the timeline, the look and feel, the algorithms

Full flexibility – you can build what you want in any way that you want

Complete data ownership – control your data in a private cloud or even on-premise

Cons of in-house energy app development

Requires time, resource and budget – lacking one of these will be a significant detriment to success in increasingly competitive markets

Your data being siloed off puts you at a competitive disadvantage against ML algorithms trained on a more vast and diverse pool of data

Cost of iteration, innovation, support and maintenance is often overlooked and is very significant for in-house products

White Label – For energy providers that want to quickly achieve a great looking, but less flexible energy mobile app

This approach requires you to use a SaaS provider to create fully branded iOS and Android apps. Cover all key features to engage with customers and deliver results. 

Pros of white-label energy apps

Time to value is shorter than in-house – an off the shelf SaaS solution means get the outcomes you want, sooner. Proven technology, deployment and results

Pre-existing integrations – reduce complexity and speed up time to value

Not dependent on establishing an in-house product team – means higher speed and risk

Cons of white-label energy apps

Fewer options for deep customisation and being completely unique to competitors’ offerings

Limited control of the roadmap for the product

Reliance on a partner to deliver product and features on time

Hybrid – Preferred by energy retailers who want to reduce time to value ratio and deliver a great looking product

Enjoy the full freedom of building your own product from the ground up. Tap into energy AI trained on billions of energy data points. Use development tools such as APIs for full flexibility, or UI SDKs for faster development, available from specialised SaaS companies and integrate them into existing apps to supercharge them. 

Pros of hybrid apps

Shorter time to value for complex elements which are iterated, innovated and developed over time 

Full control of the UI/UX/design, whilst tapping into partner experience to ensure best outcomes 

Ability to use a mix of partners to bring your own unique value, meaning that what you can create ‘on top’ is the real product

Cons of hybrid apps

Possibly multiple integrations for different capabilities

Long-term resources required for product build (in-house capability + partner costs)

You need a great App product as a starting point – the average self-service app won’t cut it

All options have benefits depending on what outcome you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it.

In-house is a good choice if control is very critical to your business and more important than the end product. The White Label may be the right choice if you are looking to start and finish fast and are less bothered about the flexibility of the product down the line.

The Hybrid choice brings together the best of both worlds. You get to keep control of the workforce involved in mobile app development and its timeline. You also end up with a finished product that is flexible, allowing for easy updates and development in the future.

Future proof your energy business with the technology available today

Want to find out more about what option might work best for you? Plus how Eliq can help you realise your company’s true potential within the energy transition? Click Access Demo below to schedule a walkthrough.

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