Phil Mansbridge, Head of Sales and Product Development, Generis Technology Limited
The Government’s 2020 deadline for installing a smart meter in every UK home is fast approaching and has been closely scrutinised. So how will the next step in the modernisation of the UK energy market be delivered, and how will the DCC (Data Communications Company) reassure consumers that this modernisation will deliver the flexibility and savings they are expecting?
Last week I attended the DCC’s first summit to update on the switching programme so far and to outline the next phase; design, test and build.
DCC Switching Programme Director, Richard Hilton opened the session and outlined the priorities for the next phase of the programme. He explained that the organisation’s key aims were to; deliver key services for the new switching process; deliver value for money for the consumer; drive innovation and competition; and mitigate risks through robust processes and contractual arrangements. Hilton also explained how a big part of the next phase of the delivery will rely on collaboration with partners. To enable the programme’s service delivery, he announced the collaboration with key service providers; Netcompany, Landmark, Expleo, and Capgemini. These companies, all expert in their own areas, will be responsible for delivering various parts of the programme and for its future success.
With technology and innovation a big theme of the day, it was interesting to hear from systems integrator Netcompany about its work in other markets to innovate consumer energy models. Chris Spence, Partner at Netcompany, outlined how the company had been responsible for rolling out a progressive supplier-centric energy model in Denmark. This resulted in simplified price comparison and free energy tariffs for consumers during certain periods, allowing them to take advantage of their smart devices.
One of the big challenges with customer switching to date has been the complex issue of inaccurate addressing with mismatched addresses accounting for 80% of failed switches. To rectify this, the DCC has partnered with Landmark Information to provide coherent and accurate addressing using the very latest technology. Their role will be to design, build and operate the registration elements of the Central Switching Service using a cloud-based platform.
I was certainly encouraged by the promised improvements to the current processes, but what can UK consumers look forward to as a result? The message was that simplifying the process and making it more robust, whilst aligning electricity and gas switching processes into a seamless customer experience, would lead to faster and, more importantly, more reliable switching for consumers. This will initially lead to the ability to switch in just five days and provide the platform and processes required to achieve same day switching in the near future.
Looking ahead, the message from Ofgem and the DCC is loud and clear. The smart meter rollout is being ramped up to ensure devices are connected to every UK home with urgency, ensuring the environmental and economic benefits are made available to all. Now is the time to push forward with further modernisation of the industry processes to capitalise on the benefits that smart meters bring. Smart meters coupled with streamlined processes will ultimately give homeowners the confidence to switch between suppliers and reduce their energy bills. This means more competition for the energy companies which in turn should also result in more competitive tariffs for consumers.