Guest blogger Henk Ensing, Technical Consultant at TNO, looks at the crucial role of billing in the creation of Smart Grids and Smart Cities.
Just a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak about the Energy Transition in front of a distinguished group of people, all of whom have made their mark in the Telco industry one way or another. The central theme of that session of course being revenue management, and based on the lively discussions in the room I can only come to the conclusion that today, billing is very much alive.
It has, however, become quite a different animal than the billing we’ve become accustomed to in the Telco area in the last decade or so. Sure, billing has already transformed from a subservient service supporting a straightforward set of products to a much more integrated service providing insight and transparency, and enabling the customer experience levels required at the starting of the internet age. However, I consider today’s excellent billing solutions to be a temporary measure, for there’s something quite different looming on the horizon. And what’s more, we can already see glimpses of that future. For that, one only needs to look at what’s happening in the area of Energy Transition.
In the Telco domain we’re quite familiar with terms like ‘unbundling’ and ‘deregulation’. And while the reasons for doing so may differ, much the same processes and developments are happening within utilities like energy generation and distribution organisations. There is however, one singular difference that makes the Energy Transition quite a game changer, to such an extent that it forces other industries to take note. This difference is the opportunity that ‘ordinary’ customers have to generate electricity themselves, also called decentralized energy generation. The exponential increase in Europe alone for people installing photovoltaic panels on their homes barely shows the enthusiasm that exists within households to become self-reliant and save money.