Interview: CEO, Powershop, New Zealand

The Leaders of Energy series.

Ari Sargent, CEO of Powershop New Zealand, an online electricity retailer, shares how it is using data to improve customer engagement. How is technology changing your organisation? There are many parts of the energy supply chain that have the potential to be impacted and improved with technology. This could be distributed generation technology (eg. solar PV), other in home technologies (such as Electric Vehicles, battery storage), network condition monitoring and smart metering. At Powershop, our focus is on using the internet and mobile technology to put our customers in control. We use this to give customers insights into their usage and energy cost and allow them to purchase as much power as they want to when they want to. The “anywhere, anytime” nature of mobile is fundamentally changing the relationship customers have with energy. Ari Sargent What is the greatest challenge that you overcame in 2016? What we have discovered in the markets we operate in is that the challenges facing competitive energy markets across the world are very similar, particularly around poor customer service models. We have disrupted this with our approach and our technology. Building on our success in New Zealand and Australia, Powershop has been embarking on a establishing a multinational energy retail franchise - a world first. The greatest and most exciting challenge for us is adapting our approach to fit in with different energy industry rules and regulations across the world. What is your top priority for 2017? Our top priority for 2017 is to complete our implementation and roll out into the UK market and to find and franchise our next market. The evolving competitive markets of Singapore and Japan are very interesting to us. Which tool, technology or technique do you think will make the most difference to your industry this year? For Powershop, our focus is on continuing to evolve our customer experience to maintain engagement and deliver benefits to customers that are easy to access and fun. Developments in mobile technology have continued to evolve rapidly, with location based services and payments. The potential to improve customer service through mobile technologies such as bots and artificial intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality in the very near future are huge. What has been the best advice that you received in your career? Success comes through putting your head down, and your butt up and working hard. And finally, which restaurant should we visit for lunch when we are in your home town? Wellington is well known for its cafe culture and multitude of cafes and restaurants in the city. My advice if you’re in Wellington though would be to try something a little different. Take the ten minute taxi ride to Maranui Café on the beach in Lyall Bay. In the surrounds of this bustling and quirky cafe, as well as fantastic food and great coffee, you will be able to watch the waves roll onto the beach, look out over Cook Strait to the South Island. This series is run in partnership with our colleagues at Asian Utility Week - the expo for digital innovation in the energy sector. Main image by Anthony Tong Lee - CC BY-ND 2.0