Utilise puts the smart into smart me­ter­ing to bring value to busi­nesses

New elec­tric­ity re­tailer Utilise is bring­ing the ben­e­fits of in­no­va­tion in the elec­tric­ity sec­tor to small and medium-sized busi­ness cus­tomers.

Idealog - - PROFILE -

FOR TOO LONG busi­ness cus­tomers have been for­got­ten in the elec­tric­ity mar­ket, so says new re­tailer Utilise. In a nut­shell, it set out to change this us­ing smart tech­nol­ogy to re­duce energy costs for its busi­ness cus­tomers.

Utilise has been set up by busi­ness peo­ple for busi­ness peo­ple through­out New Zealand. How­ever, one may ask why now?

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Si­mon Young says that in re­cent years he has seen some crit­i­cal fac­tors come to­gether. The key changes in the elec­tric­ity and tech­nol­ogy land­scape in­clude a trad­able whole­sale mar­ket, cloud based com­put­ing, and the roll­out of smart me­ters. Utilise cap­i­talises on these fac­tors to bring in­creased value to busi­nesses.

Young brought on board in­vest­ment and con­sul­tancy com­pany Mil­len­nium Cor­po­ra­tion, which has ex­per­tise in un­lock­ing value and grow­ing busi­nesses, and to­gether they set about defin­ing the Utilise mar­ket, es­tab­lish­ing the brand and sys­tems, and pro­vid­ing sup­port to the roll­out.

From the out­set Utilise has de­signed its ser­vices based on what busi­nesses said they wanted from an elec­tric­ity provider.

It sees its ‘edge’ as the com­bi­na­tion of smart me­ter tech­nol­ogy with pro­pri­etary pric­ing soft­ware and a lean busi­ness ap­proach. This pro­pri­etary pric­ing tech­nol­ogy pro­vides cus­tomised pric­ing for busi­nesses based on their own us­age pro­file, en­abling its cus­tomers to re­ceive our best pos­si­ble energy price.

The com­pany’s lead­er­ship team is made up of in­dus­try ex­perts and has trans­lated the ex­ten­sive re­search into what busi­ness cus­tomers said they want and need in a power com­pany into the Utilise of­fer­ing.

“Un­sur­pris­ingly, busi­nesses, of­ten re­liant on the se­cu­rity of power, yet with­out the re­source of big in­dus­try, want com­pet­i­tive prices, good ser­vice and trans­parency in a power com­pany’s pric­ing,” says Mar­cus Kohn-Tay­lor, Gen­eral Man­ager of Utilise.

Kohn-Tay­lor, who has ex­pe­ri­ence in suc­cess­fully es­tab­lish­ing new en­trant energy

re­tail­ers in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, says there is a large op­por­tu­nity in the small and medium busi­ness mar­ket.

The Utilise sys­tem em­ploys half-hourly smart me­ter read­ings to de­sign a pric­ing struc­ture that matches very closely the way busi­nesses con­sume power. The web-based tool uses a cus­tomer’s us­age pro­file, lo­ca­tion and net­work costs, at their busi­ness premises or any­where else.

“We de­liver cus­tomised pric­ing to the busi­ness con­sumer, but not just that, we de­liver good en­gage­ment and ser­vice that caters to in­di­vid­ual busi­ness needs. We like to think we are a breath of fresh air,” says Kohn-Tay­lor.

Typ­i­cally, whole­sale power prices are lower dur­ing the week­end and night, and us­ing the smart me­ter­ing tech­nol­ogy, Utilise is able to pass on this cost-sav­ing pat­tern to cus­tomers.

Large energy re­tail­ers tend to charge a fla­trate, 24/7, whether it is an off-peak or on-peak time, Kohn-Tay­lor says.

“Pric­ing used to be a spe­cialised area. We have taken it out of the head of­fice and put it on a tablet. Our sales staff can sit down with a cus­tomer and they can have full trans­parency of the costs, if they want it,” he says.

Start­ing a new elec­tric­ity re­tailer isn’t an overnight busi­ness. Their team spent 18 months scop­ing, do­ing de­tailed de­signs and build­ing sys­tems with to­day’s so­lu­tions for to­mor­row’s chal­lenges.

Utilise’s re­search into un­der­stand­ing small busi­nesses’ at­ti­tudes to power, their re­tailer, switch­ing, and what their ideal util­ity provider looked like re­vealed that 80% of those or­gan­i­sa­tions who switched re­tail­ers thought it was easy. Of those who hadn’t switched, two thirds said they didn’t be­cause they thought it was a has­sle, or they were too busy.

Over the last five years, the whole­sale elec­tric­ity hedge mar­ket has be­come more trans­par­ent and liq­uid, which means Utilise trades on a sim­i­lar play­ing field to its larger com­peti­tors.

Even though the com­pany re­searched the mar­ket be­fore launch, it re­alises it can’t be wed­ded to as­sump­tions it had about the mar­ket. “If you find that mar­ket feed­back is say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, you’ve got to be ag­ile and mod­ify what you are do­ing ac­cord­ingly,” says Kohn-Tay­lor, “some­thing we are ca­pa­ble of do­ing at pace”.

The chal­lenge the com­pany has ad­dressed is to be able to of­fer tai­lor-made so­lu­tions to cus­tomers, and then have the abil­ity to scale it up.

Young and Kohn-Tay­lor are ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­i­ties ahead, armed with re­search and mar­ket anal­y­sis, and a well- de­vel­oped cus­tomer of­fer.

“You’ve got to earn trust, you can’t con­tract it.”

And that’s ex­actly what this com­pany in­tends to do.

Pric­ing used to be a spe­cialised area. We have taken it out of the head of­fice and put it on a tablet. Our sales staff can sit down with a cus­tomer and they can have full trans­parency of the costs, if they want it.”

Mar­cus Kohn-Tay­lor, Gen­eral Man­ager - Utilise.

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