We accept that anyone under 40 has a smart phone and data shows even those over 60 are using smart devices at increasing rates. In the home, tablets and smartphones are replacing desktops. Smartphones are no longer cost prohibitive to lower-income families. And Brilliency’s users demonstrate access to our web platform via tablet or phone at a rate over 55%. This means that over half of users log into our web-based platform using their smartphone.
At Brilliency, we specialize helping customers engage in fun, interesting, useful ways with their utilities. We do this because we know that no community, business or household survives without electricity and water. We also know that utilities benefit by creating engaging experiences and control around customer data. Today, utilities struggle to turn data into information and are limited by their ability to get meaningful data to their customers so their customers can make informed decisions.
In a nutshell, utility customers need a mobile app because it is a ubiquitous, convenient, rich way to engage with utilities, and they will benefit from having quick, easy, real-time, unified access to utility information that can help them achieve budget and environmental goals. To that, Brilliency adds integrated data from their smart-home devices, generation, storage and EVs.
Access to customers, and for customers, is ubiquitous because the almost everyone has a smartphone. Pew Research in over three quarters (77%) of Americans own a smartphone. If you need to notify your customers of an outage, you can reach them wherever they are. If the outage is unplanned, or notice is shorter than the usual mailing cycle, this is something that you can only do with digital communications.
What do you do if your customers use more energy last month compared to last year, but they have a savings goal to use 10% less? Well, for starters, you gently notify them they used more, then you offer hints for why that may have happened (was the weather particularly different last month than the same time last year?) – and you do that all in an email, text or app notification. However they asked to be contacted is how you do it.
Smart phones also unify the experience by bringing it to the same hardware platform as apps for many smart home devices. The smart phone is where everything comes together for customers. For example, if a customer notices that heating seems to be high, she might adjust her smart thermostat from her phone that same minute. That same smart-device can feed its usage into Brilliency, allowing the customer to see how spikes from the thermostat affect overall usage.
These are some of the reasons that we’re so excited about our new mobile app. We think utilities and their customers are going to really like it.
With an app, your utility can help customers save money.
Do customers really care? Yes, data shows customers care about finding ways to save energy, and that they will participate in demand response if they maintain control. We’ve previously described different categories of customer attitudes toward it and the technology that supports it.
- Saving money — An app keeps budget-minded apprised of the ways their behavior is impacting their utility bills.
- Environmental concerns — An app keeps environmentally minded customers up to date on their environmental impact.
- Home-improvement — Regardless of attitudes about efficiency, smart home tech makes homes more appealing. An app matters because it brings all the technology together and increases the value of each individual technological investment.
- Convenience — An app makes it easy. It requires very little effort to set up on their phones, and no additional hardware to install or configure. It also simplifies complex information and shows them how they can save quickly and easily.
Whatever combination of these reasons a given customer has, they come together at the smart phone.
An app also delivers on consumer benefits from the smart grid
A recent article in GreenTech Media provided more detail about what customers want from the smart grid. It segmented customers by attitudes toward smart grid benefits. In segments and identified smart grid benefits, it seems to map quite nicely onto the above categories.
Julia Pyper (2017) Survey: What Electricity Customers Really Want GreenTech Media.
The best way to provide these benefits is with a mobile app because it lets users respond, and helps utilities understand their reactions to information.
An app is a great way for a utility to provide its customers with the benefits of the data it collects
But just providing some data isn’t enough. More and more, people and organizations are looking for unified, harmonized experiences. As Deloitte found in its 2018 report on technology trends, “Forward-thinking organizations are looking beyond one-off IT implementations in single domains—they’re evaluating the ways disruptive technologies can work in harmony to create something new and greater.” For many, the smart phone app is the most important way they can do that.