Historical suppliers have experienced the time when technical expertise, including network management, dominated because they allowed, in integrated utilities, to ensure the essential: continuity of service and the quality of energy supplied. We were then in a “pushed” value where the energy provider delivered a service without really confronting consumers.
Today, the unbundling (meaning at least an organizational separation of distribution and supply) of the activities has refocused the actors on a more precise mission: that of the suppliers is to commercialize the energy thus to answer the needs of the various consumers regarding energy. The demand is now “pulled” by the market.
This inversion is not trivial for suppliers. For them, the skills needed today to succeed include:
These skills must be matched with a particular empathy with a market that is constantly changing for societal, technological or market-related reasons.
The cultural and human roots of the historical suppliers did not grow on this soil. This may favor alternative suppliers, some of whom, in several European countries, are starting to perform particularly well, despite consumers’ inertia in switching energy suppliers.
Suppliers deploying low-cost strategies can sustainably rely on these soft skills: the question, for them, remains to assess how will evolve the market share accessible to them.
For others, we could well witness changes upsetting this fragile balance:
These evolutions will require certain suppliers of new skills:
Clearly, these developments will lead most energy providers to a new stage: Successful completion will likely require more than just skills acquisition: they will need to manage the strategic and cultural change needed to be decisively engaged in the energy transition.
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Eric Morel is a worldwide recognised expert of energy transition and digitalisation. In the past, he has served as VP Corporate Business Strategy and VP Global Smart Grids and Energy Efficiency at Schneider Electric as well as CEO of Ilevo, a telecommunication start-up. He is a founding member and a former Board member of the Gridwise Alliance, the main professional private/public association dedicated to Smart Energy.