We welcomed Jo Cox, Commercial Director, Centrica Connected Home (Hive) who spoke with David Hatcher, Senior Partner at Baringa, and took us on Hive’s start-up journey: the company’s aspiration is to bring technology and excitement into energy. Five years after launch, Hive now has over 1.5m customers who use the family of smart products and services. This success is down to the fact that Centrica spotted early on that technology would allow consumers to control their home energy management, an aspect they had very little influence over in the past. This, and the fact that smart technology has completely changed consumer behaviour presented a huge opportunity. Jo also emphasised the importance of gaining consumers’ trust and how established organisations have a huge advantage over start-ups in this field. As speed of innovation increases and resource limitations create boundaries for what can be done within an organisation, strong partnerships and ecosystems are key. Jo’s conclusion “The key is not what you sell but how it all links together.”
David Ferguson, Head of Digital Innovation, EDF shared his thoughts on the impact the ‘next wave’ of digital technologies will have on the energy sector, and illustrated this with AI-augmented engineers, digital twins that help prepare for engineering tasks, and neural networks and deep learning technologies that allow EDF to create an inventory of a power station with the push of a button. He explained how ‘unapologetically technology-driven organisations’ embed innovation in their organisations: they learn how to master the technology and then seek possible applications and use cases. David’s outlook into the future was that humans need to work out how to work alongside automation and technology, and leverage it for those tasks where technology has an advantage. We must however concentrate on, and perfect those tasks where we have an advantage over technology, such as collaboration and creativity.