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Energy crisis serving as catalyst for technological transformation amongst energy retailers

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Energy crisis serving as catalyst for technological transformation amongst energy retailers. Image: Shutterstock.

The ongoing energy crisis is proving to serve as a catalyst for energy retailers to overhaul their technology platform and deliver transformational efficiencies.

This is according to a Kaluza, an OVO owned intelligent energy platform service, whitepaper ‘Crisis as a Catalyst: Why Europe’s energy crisis calls for a technology overhaul of energy retailers’, which claims the current energy crisis has highlighted the need to improve platforms.

The whitepaper states that there is a clear need for a technology overhaul for energy retail as there will continue to be unprecedented shifts in prices, regulation and customer needs. Due to these ageing platforms, frail operating models and brittle tech architectures have been exposed when they should grant flexible options.

A case study within the whitepaper utilised to highlight the need to replace ageing technological systems was represented in the National Meter Reading Day, which took place on 31 March 2022. This particular day saw many apps and websites crash as a result of a fourteen-fold increase in online account logins.

Smart meters have seen increasing interest from energy consumers as a means to manage soaring energy bills by presenting opportunities to utilise the low cost energy from the grid.

Because of this, SMS saw solid growth across the first half of 2022, with the company citing in its half year results that the run rate for smart meter installations had increased to over 40,000 per month since Q2 2022.

This coincides with the current energy crisis that has seen high wholesale prices over the second half of 2021 and into the foreseeable future.

Kaluza additionally highlighted that average call waiting times for customers to speak to their energy retailers increased by up to 75%. By updating technologies, efficient methods in communicating with retailers could be introduced to bridge this issue.

Despite energy retailers updating their systems to help create a smart platform, there is a worry that technologically disadvantaged customers could well be left behind in the dark.

This is something that was debated by Citizens Advice with the organisation having found that digitally disadvantaged consumers are at much higher risk of loyalty penalties and could be left behind by service changes in the energy market.

Released in collaboration with Age UK, a joint statement read that energy companies are prioritising online customer service channels to meet increased demand. As such, offline services like telephone helplines are now getting worse as a result of these changes.

It is important to gradually transition to new and updated technologies to ensure that consumers are not left behind in an ever-changing energy market. Doing so could be detrimental to obligations in supporting vulnerable households.

Decarbonisation is another crucial factor to consider for energy retailers. Kaluza argues that customers are looking for a onestop-shop to gain cost-savings, protection against price volatility and to reduce their carbon footprint.

To this end, simplification of the overall process so that customers clearly understand what they are set to gain from an energy retailer could be important. However, it is vital that this is inclusive for all.

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