The Smart Grid “Product”

Over the past few years utilities have been striving to bring the outdated infrastructure of the grid into the big data world we live in today where consumer data can be analyzed and turned into insight.  Their first answer: Smart Grid 1.0.

Smart Grid 1.0 was the push for the distribution of smart meters to the public. Smart Grid 2.0 is about doing something with the data those meters produce.  With 2.0, utilities promise that smart meters will offer consumers  benefits beyond simple meter-reading like demand response and outage detection. At San Francisco’s Soft Grid Conference, David Merkoski, a partner at Greenstart, offered a different take on the utilities’ product offerings.

Merkoski began by explaining that a product is something that is produced to “solve a problem, at scale, for a market and for a profit.”  A service is the “use afforded by the product”and “the solution to the problem.”  In that vain, “the smart grid is a product that provides the service of electricity.”  He went on to say that the utilities and the companies that serve them have the product/service equation wrong and put it to the disregard of User Experience design.  Utilities are not finding out and understanding what actual users needs and then designing product and service to fit those needs so the people who need them use them. Instead they are developing a solution to “solve their own problem.”

David believes the answer is already here: Consumer Energy Products!  The New Energy Companies are creating products with services that afford the control of consumer energy.  And these consumer energy products are creating competition with the utilities and people who serve them.  Consumers can now replicate the smart grid products without the utility by the way of New Energy Companies.

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