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Karol Oponowicz
Pope of Design
Business
01.10.2022 | 4 min

How to level up an energy company with technology?

Let me tell you a little secret: if you work in an energy company that uses dedicated, custom software for internal or external use, you are also a technology company. Maybe only partially, but still. The sooner you realize this, the better because using technology is only one side of running a tech company. The second part is digital transformation, including appropriate IT processes, standards, and team management. So if you want to take full advantage of your company's business potential, you must first take full advantage of its technological potential. Let's consider why this is so and what you can do with it as a CEO or CTO conquering the energy market.

How to level up an energy company with technology? - 2022 21
Table of Contents
  • The energy industry vs. technological trends
  • What is the key to winning a modern client?
  • Trust the process (but first, establish one)
  • The biggest business blocker of energy companies
  • How to bring an energy company to a new business level?
  • Release the best technology and learn how to do it yourself
  • The business leverage in the energy sector is right by the corner

The energy industry vs. technological trends

Generally speaking, the energy industry is a traditional sector governed by local, national, and international regulations. The industry is developing relatively slowly because it values stability and security above innovation, which is entirely understandable considering the potential safety threats.

At the same time, the world is rushing forward, and the average energy customer’s profile differs from 20 years ago. The energy recipient is used to the standard of service known from industries such as social platforms, online shopping, or even mobile banking. The user wants to settle the energy matter remotely, quickly, in one place, on an intuitive panel.

Let’s add to this that consumers' energy awareness is growing too. For example, local energy intermediaries have been developing for years in Norway, France, and the UK, encouraging conscious energy use. To stay relevant in the market and fight energy corporates, they offer modern platforms and apps that, for example, calculate when it’s most affordable to use energy.

Energy services, like any other, are personalizing and digitizing because modern users want the personal touch and a digital solution.

What is the key to winning a modern client?

Modern technology, of course.

On the one hand, you must tailor your solution to the user’s individual needs. At the same time, the tool must fit in with general, current technological, and design trends.

If you release an app that resembles the times of Windows 95, your customers will probably choose your competitor with a modern, functional, intuitive app whenever they get a chance. We all would.

Trust the process (but first, establish one)

To avoid a scenario where your user base leaves you for competition, you need to release software that keeps up with consumer trends. Means: you need Agile Methodologies. They come down to 4 main principles:

  1. People and interactions over processes and tools,
  2. Porking software over extensive documentation,
  3. Cooperation with the client beyond formal arrangements,
  4. Responding to change over strictly following a plan.

How do these rules relate to the process in your company?

The biggest business blocker of energy companies

Unfortunately, many energy companies are still operating the old way. Especially their IT teams.

Every month I talk to the CEOs of energy companies who feel their company’s business potential and are eager to conquer the market. Still, at the same time, they are frustrated by the feeling that they’re not actually using this potential to the full.

Their business assumptions are on point, but the company's technology isn’t keeping up.

In OG, we see at least three reasons for this:

  1. Corporate IT teams work in Waterfall Methodologies, i.e., they assume a specific business scenario and create a technology tailored to it for several months.
  2. IT teams are agile, but only partially; they add elements of agile management to the waterfall.
  3. Nobody specific really owns the IT project.

Consequently, products are created late, don’t match customers’ current needs, and when they are released, they must be improved almost immediately (and costly).

At the same time, it’s impossible to find a person responsible for this state of affairs (no specific project leader), and the Management Board is frustrated because the company doesn’t grow as fast as they would like.

And this is where companies like us come in handy. :)

How to bring an energy company to a new business level?

How good technology you release into the world comes down to questions about how it’s being created:

  • Do the programmers understand the business context of the project, and do they cooperate with the business daily?
  • Is the technology team complete?
  • Are team roles clearly divided?
  • Does the team set deadlines and meet them?
  • Is there one specific person assigned to each project who manages it and, taking responsibility for it, reports to the Management Board?
  • Does the team monitor the progress of its work?

Sometimes in-house development teams do a tremendous job but simply lack the human power, and we definitely see the value of us undertaking projects where we’re an extension of what works well.

However, most often, and this is where I feel we’re the real difference makers, companies choose us because their internal IT departments work on outdated standards, resulting in slow and sloppy product releases.

Having us consult their IT process is what unlocks their technological and, thus, business potential.

Release the best technology and learn how to do it yourself

We’ve worked on several energy projects, including building an industrial IoT system for Thermal Energy Storage or dedicated software for V2G systems. In all these cases, our work perfectly complemented internal programmers’ work.

We get the necessary knowledge about the project and the industry’s technological and business nuances from internal developers. Simultaneously, we bring a specialized look at product delivery, such as current project managing trends or the latest and proven technology.

We enter such cooperation as an external R&D department, which, on the one hand, consults the current processes and helps to release better products faster. But on the other hand, we create the software ourselves, especially prototypes of business ideas, which are to explore the market need ASAP. Such a job is almost impossible for a team not directly aligned with what’s cooking in the tech world.

The business leverage in the energy sector is right by the corner

Seeing the incredible business results of our clients, we can see that unblocking the technological process and improving operational efficiency is a key to unlocking business potential. This is especially visible in the energy industry, where operational standards and project management beliefs are often not necessarily adjusted to the current reality.

Sometimes even I’m shocked by how much you can speed up the developers’ work and improve the company business-wise just by appointing a Product Owner responsible for the project.

Ah, the good, ole’ responsibility. :)

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