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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

I was delighted to represent EUA members at the recent Customer Innovation Summit, hosted by the excellent Energy Innovation Centre, along with two dozen senior industry figures. The event was Chaired by Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks and facilitated by Fahrenheit 212. The purpose of the day was to explore what could be done in space that network operators work in to improve the customer experience. (Some of us also grabbed a quick demo of the FutureWave platform currently being developed by EIC).

What was striking, although not surprising, was the consensus around data and data management being key to improving the customer experience. Throughout the day examples of good practice were highlighted, from within and outside the industry. There were also a number of examples of where industry doesn't do a very good job of collaborating, for example, where electricity suppliers allow DNOs access to data, but the same companies as gas suppliers do not share with GDNs. No one can cry ‘data protection' as an excuse for this.

Ofgem were present for the whole event and their CEO Dermot Nolan opened the day with some telling observations around the future for networks and their relationships with consumers. Given GDNs are a monopoly in their geographical area, competition between them is false and from what I saw there is no appetite for it. Instead, shared learning and a genuine interest in the consumer (especially vulnerable people) were the order of the day.

As ever, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating - or more pertinently, what our industry actually does for consumers in the future. If we achieve only half of what was discussed at the summit, then not only will the event have been a great success but importantly, the consumer will notice the difference. That surely is our common aim.

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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