What skills should businesses be looking for in the era of the Utilities revolution?

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I’ve frequently blogged about how the pace of change across the Utilities sector is increasing, almost on a daily basis. And whilst that makes for an exciting period for all those involved in the industry, what does it actually mean in terms of job roles, and skills? Our 2017 skills shortage results, which will be launched this week, highlights that there is a changing focus on the types of skills and expertise that utility businesses are looking for – so what should businesses and candidates be aware of?

Customer service is becoming consumer led

One of the biggest changes we’re seeing is how Utilities are servicing their customers – and more specifically – how customers are demanding they are serviced. 5 years ago, everyone predicted a move to online platforms – that phone based service centres would soon disappear. And to an extent that’s true. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted how quickly we’d move beyond online – and to a truly digital and integrated offering. Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn are now becoming channels via which customers want to be serviced. Never mind snail mail – email is too slow! People want instant results across a multitude of different channels. The old customer service skills need to be translated across this myriad of platforms – and who knows which ones will come next?

Data, data everywhere!

Traditionally, Utilities have not really had to worry about data – they might have an accurate name and billing address, all related to an MPAN or MPRS and that was it! However, the roll-out of smart, and with it more consumer information, and consumer BEHAVIOUR information, means that the next few years are going to see a focus on data – what do we have, who does it belong to, and what are we going to do with it! Skills in data management and usage are going to be ever more in demand, particularly with legislation like GDPR coming into force.

Technology led businesses

We’re seeing an increasing blurring of the lines between BAU operations and new technology developments.  AI and chatbots are becoming more and more part of the consumer landscape, and Utilities are looking with interest at how they can use these technologies within their businesses to improve service, reduce costs and deliver customer benefits. However, in order to get to a stage of widespread adoption, businesses are going to need experts in User Experience, technology and software development as well as project managers with skills in agile product development and management. Long gone are the days when implementation projects could take months or years – now change has to be delivered quickly and learnings integrated into the business in a matter of weeks.

The pace of change is increasing, and candidates and businesses alike need to consider the key skills they will need in order to succeed over the coming years. It’s important to keep constantly reviewing the skills you have within your business, and those you might need in the months to come, because without a focus on the future, your business will quickly become out of date!


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