Utilities Are In a Bind And The Only Way Out Is Innovation — Maru Group
By Sara Cappe, Managing Director, Public Services
Utilities in the US are caught between a rock and a hard place. An estimated 80 million Americans are struggling to pay their bills, including their utility bills. It is projected that Utilities will be stuck with unpaid bills totaling $35-$40 billion dollars by Spring. And that money will be owed by people who are ill equipped to pay it off, if at all.
We believe that Utilities can work through this situation providing they embrace the need for innovation and act right now.
Our recent whitepaper, Customer Focused Utilities, draws on our research on consumer opinion, a utilities roundtable discussion we led, and a scan of industry, public, and social media. From that work three critical themes emerged:
- Spend is up, income is down, and for some consumers it is overwhelming;
- People are open to change, and many are looking for ways to reduce their utility bills;
- Now is the moment to act-so that your organization is best positioned to create a better future.
Truly customer focused utilities will innovate right now
Moratoriums in many places are requiring Utilities to keep people supplied with electricity, even if they can’t afford to pay for it. But the cost of supplying electricity for free pales in comparison to the fact that many Utilities are facing a significant income shortfall that will not be easily absorbed.
And this is happening just when the recent storm in Texas highlights the need for significant infrastructure investment-investments that will be even more difficult to make given the money owed. Utilities are truly caught in an almost impossible bind.
But there is a way out: innovation.
We at Maru are here to help. In fact, the story behind our name underscores our commitment to working with organizations to identify ways to rethink a problem and find a powerful solution.
Our Maru name is rooted in the idea of disruption and innovation. It comes from a famous science fiction story from Star Trek.
Thinking and innovating with creativity in a no-win situation will help you win
The Kobayashi Maru is a training simulation which poses a no-win situation, designed to test leadership and decision-making ability.
How do you win in a no-win situation? You think creatively.
The only person to ever win in this simulation reprogrammed the simulation. He changed the conditions of the test. By not accepting defeat as an option, and by not being defined by the problem, he was able to find a way past what appeared to be insurmountable barriers.
This desire to disrupt to find a way to succeed, to use original thinking is the Maru promise to our clients. Right now, we at Maru are helping Utilities think beyond the seemingly unwinnable situation they are facing.
Organizations are drawing on our strengths in ethnography, social mention monitoring, and cultural framing, for the seeds of ideas. They are using our Instant Qualitative Environment and our Agile research solution as testing grounds for nascent innovations. Then they are prioritizing ideas with Choice-based Ideation before refining them with Concept Connections.
To start a conversation about how Maru can help your organization navigate the challenging times ahead contact me. We are here to help!
Originally published at https://www.marugroup.net on March 30, 2021.