More than half of global energy consumers would consider installing connected-home solutions or solar panels in the next five years, or purchasing an electric vehicle in the next 10 years, according to a new survey by Accenture.
Interest in connected-home products and services such as energy management and other monitoring and control solutions is projected to rise from seven percent to 57 percent in the next five years, due to the expectation that they will help reduce energy bills, increase comfort and convenience, and enable remote control of home devices.
Customer interest in solar panel installations is expected to increase six fold in the next five years, driven predominantly by a desire for energy independence, but also by the availability of subsidies and the ability to reduce environmental footprint.
“While specialized providers are consumers’ default choice for solar panels and connected-home solutions, energy providers are currently a very close second,” said Greg Guthridge, managing director in Accenture’s utilities industry group. “Despite moving into the home energy market, big-box retailers, phone and cable companies and online retailers rank much lower.”
“In these nascent, rapidly expanding and converging markets, the opportunity to capture market share is a wide-open field. Success will come down to those providers who perfect the digital customer experience,” he added.
The latest instalment of Accenture’s annual New Energy Consumer research, Architecting for the Future, published today, surveyed more than 13,000 individuals in 26 countries and found that a majority of customers are interested in a range of next-generation home and energy solutions from their energy provider, including advice on energy efficiency.
Connected-home and alternative energy technologies are appealing to consumers concerned about their energy spend. In fact, 71 percent of consumers believe that their energy provider could do more to help them reduce their energy bills and only 21 percent said that they were comfortable with the reasons provided for recent price increases.
The study also found increased consumer interest in digital enablement channels and tools, but nearly two-thirds of consumers said that they experienced challenges when using these channels, and only 45 percent said that they were able to complete a given request every time.
A significant majority (more than 80 percent) of customers said that they expect the same or better digital service from their energy providers as they do from online retailers, banks, phone and cable companies, and even government agencies.
“Many utilities still compare their service levels to other utilities, but our research shows that they need to look to other providers’ digital experiences. Energy providers need to take the hassle out of customer interactions and make them as simple, accessible and convenient as possible. This will become even more critical as connected-home solutions gain mass appeal,” continued Guthridge.
Of particular interest is that digital channel users appear to be more satisfied with their energy providers than non-digital channel users – 67 percent versus 58 percent.
“The digital revolution is causing industry lines to blur and barriers to entry to all but disappear. This is creating opportunities to provide new, interconnected platforms for innovation that bring the connected-home, electric vehicles and alternative energy sources together. The battle for the home has become a cross-industry one. With traditional business models at risk, leading energy providers will need to move quickly to differentiate from new entrants,” Guthridge concluded.
Accenture’s annual global survey was based on questionnaire-led interviews with 13,720 residential consumers in 26 countries, conducted online in native languages for Accenture by Harris Interactive. It is a quantitative survey with a sample statistically representative of the general population in each country, with the exception of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, and Thailand, where the sample was representative of the urban populations.
The New Energy Consumer – Architecting for the Future draws upon five consecutive years of end-consumer research, analysis of consumer and technology trends, insights from leading energy providers, cross-industry experience and Accenture’s knowledge of managing utility customer operations. The report explores new opportunities in virtual customer interaction, the connected consumer, distributed energy, and new products and services. It also offers Accenture’s view of the energy consumer of the future.