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As part of DDC Outsourcing Solutions UK`s (DDC OS UK) drive to constantly improve our standing as a knowledge expert in the utilities sector, we welcomed John Brignell to the team in June last year. John has a wealth of knowledge and experience that he is putting to great use with our clients as Programme Manager. We recently sat with John to discuss the industry, his role and ambitions as well as, DDC OS’ position in this diverse sector.  

 

  • This is an exciting time for the industry, how would you describe the current climate?

There are a lot of new entrants coming to market. It’s exciting because they all have different USPs and business models, and this provides a lot more variety in the industry. But this also makes for a highly competitive marketplace.

  • Where is the industry heading?

We are seeing more companies start to offer bundled services across Gas, Power and Water, and I believe it won’t be long before the consumer will be able to add Phone, Mobile and TV services to these bundles. Also, there’s a real move towards technology in Utilities, smart homes, smart grids, interconnected and intelligent devices, the Internet of Things.

  • Phone, Mobile and TV… really?

I think so, yes. It will give utility companies a way of gaining smaller margins across each service, providing better value, as well as a single point of contact for the customer.

  • What appealed to you about working with DDC OS?

DDC OS holds a unique position in the market, a number of industry partners have cornered various parts of the customer journey and we seem to be fitting into the missing parts. We need to build on our great connections and create synergy in the customer journey model with these partners.

  • How & where do your experience and expertise come from? What can you tell us about your past and future in this industry?

I’ve been in the industry for about ten years. I started out as an Industry Analyst at Npower back in the days where data flows were processed manually. I worked on revenue leakage on the gap between billing and settlements. I also was part of a project that moved all gas processes over from another site to the site I worked at in Hull. I remember always being of the mindset that if I didn`t know something I`d go and find out about it, either from someone who did or from the many online resources. I carried that with me to my next role looking after the metering performance at Good Energy. Being a small supplier meant that I got involved in lots of work areas such as operational, contract and project management as well as compliance. I continued to learn as I delivered systems and metering and data performance improvement initiatives.

I’ve since worked in consulting roles, leading various clients through market entry, delivering change teams, settlement performance, business energy, prepayment, and smart metering. Before joining DDC OS, I was a senior utilities consultant for various power and water clients. I delivered water competition processes, water settlements solutions and a number of other systems implementation initiatives.

  • What role will you play for DDC OS and what projects are you looking forward to getting involved in?

I’m keen to be involved in the end to end service offering, from onboarding a client, supporting the client customer journey and continuing to consult and add value to the client experience. I’m eager to help clients and DDC OS form very lean, very agile services to keep costs to an absolute minimum and reduce overheads as well as optimise them for profit.

Part of this is going digital - such as the mobile apps and customer portals we’re working on - but a large part of it is the service we offer and the way in which we deliver it.

 

  • What would be your top tip/s for a newcomer to the industry, both an individual and company?

I would say be proactive and don’t be daunted. The industry is easily viewed as a complex and scary entity when you first look at it but in reality, it isn’t. There’s plenty of baffling and convoluted material out there I know, but it’s a bit self-perpetuating and self-indulgent on the part of the industry experts and as an industry, I think we’re going to grow out of it. In any case, I’ve always picked up the phone to an industry stakeholder or colleague and asked them to explain something I don’t understand, and everyone is super keen to help you out so don’t be afraid of the conversation. It’s much easier to retain the info that way anyway. The amount of initiatives I’ve delivered with no prior knowledge just because I was proactive is incredible. In fact, rarely have I been asked to do the same activities again and again, so expect to evolve.

  • Any hot topics we should be looking out for in the coming months/year?

Smart metering, smart grids, and smart homes, the ‘internet of things’ is interesting. How everything in the home connects to one another and consumes resources and the end-user experience of that.
Water competition is likely to open further, access to faster energy switching and energy settlements is also evolving.

  • Will we be looking at a very different industry in the next 5/10 years?

In five years, it’s likely to be a hybrid of legacy and smart, but yes in ten years the landscape will be totally different. Energy systems will be much more efficient, I hope we become increasingly renewable, and consumers will be in greater control of their households.

  • What are some of the more common mistakes you see amongst new entrants?

Loss leading tariffs. Those introductory tariffs to entice customers to sign up that operate at a loss. It’s not a good way to gain customers. Those customers will always switch to the next better deal; likely to be another loss leader. There is little brand loyalty in this model, however, as prices even out and these tariffs start to disappear, we will get to a more customer-centric market where good service matters. Plus, there are other ways to reduce costs and keep tariffs low, such as utilising DDC OS to take the pain out of operations and run a lean business!

 

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