British Gas exec berates energy industry’s “lack of innovation”

Mobile World Congress: British Gas’ emerging technologies group’s head of connected homes Alex Jones says the utilities sector is suffering from a “dire lack of innovation” despite the need for new thinking to help it reach targets to reduce carbon emissions.

British Gas Mobile App

Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Jones said the UK energy industry needs to be “turned on its head” if it is to reduce carbon emissions by 34% to meet targets set by the government.

He added: “Energy is not typically a sector you associate with innovation, it’s a pretty settled industry, a bit like healthcare, but there is a massive opportunity in this space.”

British Gas predicts that this is set to change, estimating the energy sector will invest £200bn in innovation in the next decade to work on technology such as smart meters and services that help consumers visualise their energy consumption.

Jones said: “There are some really interesting nuggets of problems that need to be solved in the energy industry, especially when it comes to reducing energy wastage. Mobile technology has been effectively applied to telecoms and even the automotive industry, but we just don’t have as much attention applied to the energy industry.”

British Gas set up an emerging technologies group to drive innovation at the company, which is currently working on upcoming launches such as a mobile app that helps customers schedule when their heating comes on, remotely.

The company is also trialling heating apps that can use pattern recognition, room occupancy, current weather and a customer’s personal location to automatically control their heating settings.

Jones said: “For us, innovation is all about making the home more comfortable. It’s important to offer services that aren’t just about electricity and  gas but about how comfortable you are and customers should be able to interact with their home in any way they wish – whether it be through a phone, TV, the oven or a stick-on flexible interface to take around with you.”

Further innovation will also help the utilities sector increase brand engagement, Jones said. Currently consumers only spend about 30 seconds per month thinking about energy and 187,000 people change utilities providers every week, British Gas claims.

Recommended

Everything Everywhere

Everything Everywhere eyes 4G services by year end

Ronan Shields

The UK’s largest mobile operator plans to launch 4G mobile internet services by the close of the year after seeing 150% growth in data usage on its network last year, according to CEO Olaf Swantee. Read the full story here. For all our Mobile World Congress 2012 coverage, click here

Comments

    Leave a comment

    Close

    Discover even more as a subscriber

    This article is available for subscribers only.

    Sign up now for your access-all-areas pass.

    If you're an existing paid print subscriber find out how to get access here.

    Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to unrivalled coverage of the biggest issues in marketing, alongside practical advice from the digital experts at Econsultancy.

    With a subscription to Marketing Week Premium you will get full access to:

    > World-renowned columnists

    > Analysis & case studies

    > Exclusive leading-edge insight

    > Carefully curated reports & briefings from Econsultancy

    > Plus, much more including a £300 discount for the Festival of Marketing

    Subscribe now

    Got a question?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

    If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here

    Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to unrivalled coverage of the biggest issues in marketing, alongside practical advice from the digital experts at Econsultancy.

    With a subscription to Marketing Week Premium you will get full access to:

    > World-renowned columnists

    > Analysis & case studies

    > Exclusive leading-edge insight

    > Carefully curated reports & briefings from Econsultancy

    > Plus, much more including a £300 discount for the Festival of Marketing

    Subscribe now