Preparing municipalities for customers of the future – ESI Africa

We arent likely to see cyborgs doing jobs at our municipalities anytime soon, but we are going to experience a shift in the importance of data and digital skills.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/10/16

There is agrowing public outcry around poor municipal performanceJoe and Jane Public areno longer captive customers as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has giventhem options. These choices are increasing their expectations of servicedelivery from their power utility.

Its areality faced by municipal managers who operated within the confines of strictregulatory frameworks, but now find themselves in a quandary as distributedenergy resources challenge the grid.

This is themessage from the AMEU president, Refilwe Mokgosi, during the opening of theassociations 27th annual convention, which is seeking to provide the municipalmarket with clarity on how to build the power utility of the future, today.

Poor municipalperformance was a message echoed by Ayanda Noah, a former Eskom employee,during the keynote panel discussion, which unpacked whether we are fit toface the future.

Noahrecalled a personal story that many South Africans can relate toa completelack of customer centricity and a missed opportunity by a municipal office touse a readily available digital solution such as an EFT payment.

Sincemunicipalities have little control over the steep tariffs from Eskom, they mustaddress managing their cost-reflective tariffs through the power of engagingwith customers. Through this engagement, Id wager that they will see anincrease in paying customers.

Preparingyour municipality for the 4IR need not be daunting. Just because it uses theInternet of Things doesnt make it any different from how you would implement atraditional non-smart project. Start by applying a small pilot project toestablish a business case and proof of concept to secure the finance needed toexpand the project.

What you asa municipality are aiming for is to make your services relevant in todaysworld of Mr and Ms Smart Public. It will be necessary to reskill your personnelto increase the quality and reliability of your service offering.

This can be achieved through using your data to know more about your customer, their supply (small-scale embedded generation) and demand (when, where and how such as a new school with an IT department or an EV charging station). This also raises the question of what does your customer needelectricity or energy?

The immediate cyborg to watch out for is big data. Dont become a slave to your data but rather put your data to good use to stay ahead of your customers expectations.

Until next week.Nicolette

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Preparing municipalities for customers of the future - ESI Africa

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