New business models, innovative products and efficient business processes in the twinkling of an eye – the powerAppstore from powercloud helps utilities accelerate their digitalization process and respond to market changes. Managers can avoid financial risks and the planning requirement within the company is minimal. How does this very flexible platform idea work and what makes it future-proof?
The introduction of smartphone app stores about 10 years ago changed the world: iPhone and the like became everyday life command centers. Economists refer to a veritable “app economy”, whose enormous scale is demonstrated in a study commissioned by Apple. According to the study, although app stores generated $519 billion in revenue in 2019, only a marginal percentage was attributable to direct app purchases! Physical goods and out-of-store services accounted for the lion’s share. We use apps to buy tours, take language courses, or book streaming services, thus dispensing with time-consuming installation programs and problems. Providers in turn benefit from a successful platform that guarantees them a direct (and stable) interface to the user.
Basic requirement for business success in the 21st century
The platform app idea has certainly become the IT role model for many industries, ranging from logistics applications to marketplaces for business needs through to Industry 4.0 implementation. But can it all be applied to B2B services in the dynamic energy industry with its host of regulations and complex market conditions? Powercloud answered this question some time ago with the impressive powerAppstore success story. The powerAppstore “platformizes” the utilities’ digital infrastructure and opens up a world of opportunities that allow companies to react extremely quickly to market and infrastructure changes – without expensive IT integration projects. They need only add the respective app to powercloud’s core functions to start benefiting from the use of new functions or services. This is ultimately the basic IT requirement for the success of utilities in the 21st century: a highly flexible energy market, whose detailed regulatory structure is still unknown today, cannot be taken on by monolithic IT solutions. Only a continuously adapting IT system can ensure investment security and competitiveness.
On the other hand, the rapidly growing powerAppstore is helping powercloud become a cross-industry interaction platform for ever more players and market participants. The participants compile new experiences that are incorporated into technological innovations and used to establish new business models, including models that were not feasible in the past for cost reasons. The motto now: go ahead and try it out, but avoid taking business risks. Depending on the application, the app functions can be available in a few hours. Rather than being a conventional marketplace – i.e. only the formal framework for a growing product range – the powerAppstore is an integral part of the powercloud operating model. Each app is automatically integrated into the transparent software-as-a-service model. Powercloud, as the platform operator, ensures the quality standard of the apps.
A growing system for a complex market
But what does the selection and the product range in the powerAppstore look like in concrete terms? The first answer is that the range is as large and growing as fast as the (ever increasing) number of new tasks and business models for utilities. Do you need to establish a tenant power model, calculate e-mobility in all its facets, or set up a purely “online customer journey” including a self-service customer portal, ordering process, and mobile app? Depending on the application, the solution is available “out of the box” within a few hours or days! This also dispenses with the costs for complex IT selection processes and integrations, unlike comparable projects that are part of traditional monolithic IT systems and often used to take more than three annual quarters to complete. Setting up a portal, for example, could take 18 months and cost up to 170,000 USD, not to mention interface-related operating problems.
Investment costs of under 5,900 USDs for customer portal
In contrast, utilities are given access to the advantages of the frequently booked customer portal app within powercloud in just three to five days, for example. And the technical provision of the customer portal takes only a few hours. Most of the time is spent on customizing the layout to ensure that all of the utility’s CI requirements are met. Users also need to define what customers can (and cannot) do via self-service. The end result is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art solution that includes complex self-service functions, enables cross- and upselling of non-commodity products, and is fully integrated into the backend. The one-off investment costs amount to less than 5,900 USD!
Ensuring long-term app quality and functioning
The associated organization and quality management show the importance of powerAppstore for the SaaS solution’s platform philosophy. For this purpose, powercloud has established its own organizational unit for integrating partner solutions. The experts take a step-by-step approach:
- They start off with systematic scouting to identify new IT solutions for the energy market.
- Potential partners are then subjected to an audit and accompanying qualification processes as a basic requirement for contracting and inclusion in the partner program.
- Various technical integration processes ensure the trouble-free connection of each new app. Onboarding is the final step in this process – the app is made available to powercloud customers as an out-of-the-box solution.
- Continuous monitoring is an important aspect of quality management. The functions (and susceptibility to errors) of the apps are monitored and optimized if necessary.
- Last but not least, powercloud kick-starts collaboration with app partners in order to jointly develop new solutions for users.
With that said, it is hardly surprising that powercloud’s growing ecosystem is characterized by a high level of diversity. Established industry partners, startups, fintechs and global technology companies transfer their know-how into the “co-products” – and powercloud’s holistic platform solution becomes the enabler for new business areas and models. The end result is measurable business success: a cost to serve of 11 USD per customer per year is realistic for utilities that rely on the powercloud platform.
Are you looking for an operating system that keeps all business opportunities open for the future while giving you access to a wide range of technological innovations? Rely on powercloud’s global partner network!
The powerApp store at a glance
More than 80 powerApps covering a wide range of topics are already available. Below are some examples and topics:
- Creating personalized customer interfaces: web tariff calculator, e-shop solutions, chatbot, smartphone app, omnichannel communication and output management.
- Introducing new payment methods: digital direct debits, credit cards and online payment services (PayPal, amazonPay, Klarna and Alipay).
- Strengthening customer loyalty: non-commodity fulfillment / logistics, voucher world and loyalty programs.
- Simplifying creditworthiness and receivables handling: information, intelligent dunning procedures and collection services.
- Optimizing B2B areas: sales partner management, intelligent forecasting, data-based B2B costing and quotation management.
- Supporting new business areas: real estate industry, tenant power and e-mobility billing.
About the author
Steven Dawson, VP powercloud North America, brings more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, working for SAP, Oracle, and Genesys. He is recognized for building Salesforce Energy & Utilities (formerly Vlocity) in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from the bottom up. His new mission is focused on migrating energy and utilities companies in North America away from old on-premises/legacy systems to a new, modern architecture and billing platform in the cloud. Dawson established powercloud’s North American operations within the Atlanta Tech Village, one of the nation’s largest technology innovation workplaces. Companies that are dedicated to the growth of the energy and utilities sector in the southeast and especially within the Atlanta area. In all of his endeavors, he has helped energy companies reduce operational and acquisition costs while achieving the best possible Customer Experience.