Cloud and social media – the future of Energy?

You can’t write an IT blog today without mentioning the cloud or social media. That’s not because they’re hype – it’s because they’re here.

Why is cloud important? Yes, cloud moves costs from capex to opex. Yes, cloud can increase organisational agility. And yes, cloud can reduce costs. These are all good and necessary. But the real, disruptive power of cloud services is that they reduce barriers to entry.

Cloud lets little new companies act like large, well established ones without the upfront investment. It allow businesses to scale both up and down on demand, extending the reach of the organisation without the need to expand the organisation itself. Take a look at MetroBank or iHeart Studios, for example.

Cloud is everywhere. Email, maps, documents, pictures, video, music – they’re all accessible everywhere and on all kinds of devices. People can connect services and components together quickly to deliver new solutions at scale.

The potential for collaboration between individuals, across organisations, and amongst suppliers, subcontractors and partners is literally infinite. Just as containerisation revolutionised logistics – and the global economy – so the cloud is remaking the service industries in profound ways.

We can’t ignore cloud, but maybe we could ignore social media? If only! I have concerns about how people sometimes share too much on social media, but its impact on our lives and businesses should not be underestimated.

Social media can be used just as a way to stay in contact with friends and family. But the speed and reach of news and views is incredible. One tweet or vine can make you famous or infamous – and this applies to organisations just as much as individuals.

Social media’s greatest impact is its enablement of communities of like-minded people. Marketing folks used to invent categories and then assign people to them. Social media has flipped the logic and now consumers are defining and redefining themselves, choosing who and how they want to be.

Energy companies are service companies. In today’s connected, amplified social media world, poor service delivery rapidly becomes a very public matter. There’s a wealth of examples from seemingly simple IT glitches to examples of shockingly poor customer service being shared and going viral. The business feels the impact on its brand, with reputation being materially damaged and top and bottom lines suffering.

On the other hand, use social media effectively as part of a multichannel strategy for engaging with customers and you’ve got the attention of the next generation of customers and new customer segments.  Energy suppliers cannot ignore this opportunity to get closer to their customers.

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