From Silos to Synergy:

Preparing Utilities for the Next-Gen Business Experience

Saman Shahid
Published: March 22, 2024
4 min read

What defines digital transformation in the utility industry?

Is it about migrating to the cloud, delivering digital customer experiences, automating field operations, or incorporating AI into their vocabulary?

While these are all crucial elements, these factors in isolation do not define true ‘transformation.’

Modern utilities need to embrace synergies driven by modern technologies across all aspects of their value chain to drive connected experiences – removing silos and driving transformation at scale -the next big step in reshaping the fabric of the utility ecosystem.

But how? Transitioning from a siloed approach to an AI-powered connected business experience!

AI-powered platforms enable impactful experiences and have the power to create an integrated ecosystem that facilitates seamless data flow between different departments and systems, eliminating inefficiencies, redundancies, and silos. For Instance: an AI-powered connected ecosystem will enable swift addressing of a request raised by a concerned customer via automated dispatching of a workforce agent or providing next-best recommendations.

Connected business experience emerges as the next big innovation for utilities. In today's digitally driven landscape, customers expect personalized, frictionless interactions across all touchpoints. By offering a connected experience, utilities can meet these evolving customer expectations while also optimizing internal operations. Connected business experience facilitates real-time communication and collaboration among customers, workforce, and service agents, leading to enhanced service delivery, greater operational efficiency, and improved customer satisfaction.

To address the urgency of delivering the modern-day experience in this volatile age, let us explore some critical emerging strategies utilities need to implement – for their customers, workforce, and service agents – for integrated business experience. As a keen contributor to the industry, I believe these strategies, based on my experience, will be key for utilities to truly become forward-thinking and customer-centric:

  • Addressing customer concerns with the power of swift customer service
    With the changing working patterns and digitized lifestyles, utility customers expect rapid and accurate responses. With AI-powered insights, customer service agents can facilitate efficient customer communications. The AI-driven 360-degree view of customer consumption behavior, pain points, historical trends, and service feedback enables more accurate and faster responses, leading to efficient case management, impactful communication, trust building, and customer assurance.

  • Leveraging AI/ML Analytics to enable data-driven decisions
    AI, ML, and Analytics are vital factors driving the next-best strategic actions for utilities and their customers. To leverage powerful insights, utilities must proactively adopt AI-ML systems and processes in their business operations to reduce operational risks and increase efficiency. AI/ML equips utilities with responsible ESG reporting, decarbonization reports, and granular data and insights to implement informed and data-driven decisions.

  • Empowering customer service agents with a low-code no-code (LCNC) self-service platform
    Speaking of technological advancements and platforms, self-service applications are the new fad and are here to stay. Low-code, no-code (LCNC) platforms are impacting the development lifecycle across industries, and utilities need to accelerate the smart adoption of such platforms. Make service agents the workforce of tomorrow by equipping them with the right tools at their fingertips, such as a self-service platform – (available as a web platform and native mobile app). Backed with customer insights and historical data, these platforms enable efficient customer issue resolution with analytics-driven reports, effective case management, quick field deployment, automated workflows, and much more. When added with the capability of AI-ML, these platforms are doing wonders!

  • Addressing the dynamic business demands with new-age connectivity
    In the digital-neo world, the essence of a connected experience is more relevant than ever. Omnichannel engagement is not only applicable to present customers and prospects but also to service agents to achieve dynamic business growth. Digitally connected platforms eliminate both concerns! It enables seamless customer account management, from creating effective targeted marketing campaigns to retaining and acquiring new customers, and foster skill development of service agents by leveraging existing and historic customer interactions.

  • AI-powered chatbots for modern communications
    We have already covered AI-ML-driven data insights and connectivity; AI-powered chatbots are next in line! With the increasing intelligence the machines are developing, chatbots are the tools for next-generation customer communication. Utilities need to equip service agents and customers with vertically integrated AI-powered chatbots. These chatbots efficiently act as the first line of service agents to address customer queries across multiple communication channels and 24/7 connectivity. Additionally, they simplify customer service by freeing up the bandwidth of service agents, helping them focus on advanced tasks, reducing call center call volumes, assisting in solving customer queries, and ultimately bringing the customers closer to the utility.

The utility industry is moving toward a hyper-VUCA-driven world, and adopting agile business practices has become vital to make the next leap toward development. By establishing connected business experiences, utilities can operate and serve their customers under a streamlined flow – leveraging end-to-end digital connectivity and experiences. With the current standards of operations and the state of technology, leveraging these strategies allows utilities to create a holistic business experience for all their stakeholders. And drive towards the goal of seamless interaction with its workforce and customers.

SEW's SmartBX Platform provides a fully integrated solution that simplifies utility business operations. Tailored specifically for the Energy and Utilities vertical, the SmartBX (Business Experience) Platform is the all-in-one answer to the challenges utilities face in today's dynamic landscape.

This vertical-focused platform serves a multitude of essential functions, seamlessly integrating Customer Service, Finance, Service Management, Marketing/Campaigns, Customer Outreach, and Operational Services (including Outage Management, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Program Management, and more) within a single, cohesive platform.

At its core, SEW's Platform is all about creating a connected ecosystem. It bridges the gap between customer service, assets, and field workforce management, ensuring a smooth flow of information and collaboration. It is the definitive solution for utilities seeking to streamline operations, enhance customer service, and stay ahead of the curve.

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Saman Shahid
Product Manager

Saman is the Product Manager at SEW, where she is responsible for leading the SmartBX product portfolio. Her role involves defining the product vision, overseeing the development process, and ensuring that the product meets the needs of customers while also meeting business objectives. Saman has a strong track record of successfully delivering B2B products, including SmartBX, Contact Center Solutions, Customer Relationship Management, Analytics and Insights, to Energy and Utility companies. Prior to joining SEW, Saman worked with IBM for over eight years, where she contributed to the development, delivery, and consultation of Customer Relationship Management accelerators as an MSCRM technical consultant. She is passionate about developing impactful technology products and scalable SaaS business models. Saman holds a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Computer Sciences and a Master of Technology (M.Tech) in Robotics.

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