Four ways utilities can fight back against Google



You know about Google's acquisition of the Nest home thermostat, of course. And a while back I also offered proof that Google intends to take over the grid, not just home energy management.


So when I heard from Tendril's Adrian Tuck with these four ideas on how utilities can adapt and prosper, I wanted to pass them along right away. As Adrian is wont to say, brands from all industries have made strides marketing to the "customer of one" -- all industries except electric power, that is. Even though utilities collect mass amounts of data from millions of customers, they still struggle to make sense of that information to improve service offerings.


Since Tendril is in the business of providing utilities with a solution to that quandary, Adrian has some important insights. I added an "Amen!" to idea #2, but I strongly agree with all four. We're at the tipping point and the pace of change will accelerate from here. Utilities need to be grappling with these decisions right now. - Jesse Berst


By Adrian Tuck


What energy providers can learn from the airline industry

When Google acquired Nest earlier this year, I wrote an article for Smart Grid News detailing the impact on utilities. My position was, and still is, that this move would require utilities "to take a more personal approach and consider offering services they haven’t necessarily supported in the past."


Well, if that move wasn’t enough to convince you of this need then Nest’s acquisition of Dropcam certainly should. You might initially scratch your head wondering about the synergies between cameras and thermostats but when viewed in the context of the connected home it makes perfect sense. And it got me thinking ... what other products have come together to revamp an industry?  While there are many great examples, I settled on airlines because of the similarities to what we are seeing today with energy.


The airline saga

When commercial airlines began forming, they subscribed to a monolithic approach of selling a seat to get you from point A to point B. It was very much a commodity play that led to low utilization rates and ultimately the failure of many carriers. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 changed the game. It opened the door to competing providers that focused on offering an optimal customer experience. Whether in the form of cheaper airfare (Southwest), compelling perks like personal TVs (Jet Blue) or a club-like atmosphere and on-demand services (Virgin America), this move signaled a change that would transition the industry out of a commodity mindset.