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Gearing up for digitalization at The Nordic Energy Forum

Decision makers and leaders from the Baltic energy sector gathered in Helsinki this week for The Nordic Energy Forum. Among them was Jouko Tossavainen, Business Development Manager for Arvato Financial Solutions, who attended the event to get updates on the latest trends impacting the energy and utilities industry. According to Jouko, suppliers operating in this market have very specific requirements and Arvato Financial Solutions has the right combination of skills, expertise and infrastructure to support them. Read on to learn why.

The Nordic Energy Forum took place at Vanha Ylioppilastalo from October 29-30 and attracted around 400 stakeholders, influencers and policy makers from the energy and utilities industry.  Over 30 industry experts spoke at the event. Most of the keynote presentations focused on addressing the current changes sweeping through the energy and utilities industry, future requirements, innovation, changes in legislation and new business models.

Onstage highlights

Angela Wilkinson, President of the World Energy Council, was one of the speakers that I was most looking forward to, so I was pleased that she exceeded my expectations. During her keynote Wilkinson presented findings from the WEC’s latest World Energy Scenarios report. The report is the result of a three-year study conducted by over 60 experts from nearly 30 countries.

She went on to summarize some of the key findings and explained how existing value chains within the energy and utilities industry are primed for disruption by innovative accelerators.

Wilkinson’s presentation confirmed that much of Europe ⁠— and the world — is in the midst of changing energy systems. Her forecast, and the disruption that she anticipates, reminded me of the vast changes the telco industry underwent 10-15 years ago when new digital players like Skype disrupted the market by offering innovative ways to communicate.

The potential for innovation might be huge, but how do we get there?

Collaboration across industries, governments and enterprises is key, said Artur Runge-Metzger  from the European Commission. Co2 emissions and reducing the carbon footprint are challenges that are too great for one nation to tackle alone, he said. The “Nordic Vision 2030: world’s smartest carbon-neutral electricity system” presentation, among many others throughout the event, reiterated that message and highlighted the importance and benefits of collaboration between countries, enterprises and across industries.

Eye-opening takeaway

The overarching key takeaway for me from The Nordic Energy Forum is that many experts expect digitalization to transform the energy and utilities industry, just as it has transformed other industries. In addition, I also got a greater sense of how committed the EU really is to the UN’s Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to curb global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What was truly eye-opening, however, was the realization that we can’t rely on one all-encompassing solution or piece of legislation to tackle problems like global warming.

Many of the presenters underlined that we need to think much bigger and beyond the confines of our national borders, when tackling global issues.

Rather than one solution fits all, we instead need to create a full toolkit comprised of many different solutions and initiatives, some that can be applied locally and some that function across geographical borders. Only then do we have a chance of creating a climate neutral world, they said.

I believe creating such a harmonious solution or way of doing things that appeals to every government or enterprise won’t be easy. But when it comes to climate change it is necessary. And if there is one message that was loud and clear coming out of the Nordic Energy Forum is that we need to collaborate more for the good of our planet, business and society.

Gearing up for digitalization

During the discussions with other attendees at Nordic Energy Forum I learned that automated processes, self-repairing systems, and blockchain registry energy-exchanges are among the innovative technologies being adopted by startups that promises to disrupt how power is going to be distributed to consumers around the world.

Finland’s electricity transmission operator Fingrid Oyj, for example, is designing and building a centralised information exchange system called Datahub which is set to disrupt the electricity retail market.

When the Datahub is launched in 2022 it will contain data from around 3.6 million electricity metering points in Finland. Today, this data is currently tied-up and restricted to various companies’ systems. But through the Datahub it will be made available to approximately 100 electricity suppliers and 80 distribution network companies serving electricity consumers.

As a result, consumers will be able to more easily access real-time market pricing and change their electricity supplier. Changing address, balance settlement, and payment will be some of the functions that could be easier to control and govern through the system.

Clearly, in Finland, we are heading towards a clean and reliable market-based electricity system. With many new electricity disruptors poised to enter the Finnish market over the coming years, one question remains: what will our role be, if any?

Business enablers

Let’s face it: finance is complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Today, and in the future, Arvato Financial Solutions have a crucial role to play as business enablers.

In the energy and utilities industry, we currently have a common platform for customer account management, reminder and debt collection in the Nordic region and handle approximately 17 million collection cases annually.

Our energy claims solution utilizes automation and is efficient. By means of predictive analytics, leading-edge platforms, and international process expertise, we’re already backstage working with the latest tech to diligently transform our customers business.
And, by outsourcing tasks to us, companies gain a competitive edge by being able to remain focused on what they are good at — their core business.

The benefits are real, too. Outsourcing processes such as order to cash, for example, can increase conversion and profits — as well as strengthening the whole financial process.

We are perfectly positioned to help newcomers entering the energy and utilities industry with outsourcing solutions that range from invoice administration to ledger accounts and receivables management.

Energy and utilities industry trends

Suppliers operating in the energy and utilities market are facing a number of strategic challenges. Current trends discussed at the Nordic Energy Forum suggest a decline in customers’ willingness and ability to pay. An increasing number of customers are willing to switch suppliers. Contracts are being drawn up for shorter terms. And new energy efficiency regulations are gaining ground.

Enterprises in the energy sector are acutely aware of this changing behaviour and require reliable partners to handle these complicated requirements. They also know that they must listen to their customers and be more in-tune with their needs, if they wish to remain competitive and appealing.

As a neutral partner of regional and nationwide energy suppliers, Arvato Financial Solutions offer a wide range of financial services solutions to suit every need. In addition, our specialist processes enable clients to benefit from Arvato’s extensive expertise in this market.

To deal with the increased need for know-how, companies hoping to disrupt need to choose to outsource to a scalable partner and expert, in my opinion. That’s where we come in.

Making a difference together

Big challenges exist for all of us who care about the planet. Thankfully, throughout the Nordic Energy Forum there was overwhelming evidence of a huge number of innovative initiatives, projects, and new legislation being developed and rolled out worldwide.

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There is also some serious commitment and ambition being pledged across industry verticals to transform outdated business models in favour of creating a better, kinder, cleaner and more technologically advanced planet for us all to enjoy living and working in.

We might not have all the answers just yet. But I’m proud to be counted as one of those who is invested in making a difference.

I hope you are, too.

If you’d like to learn more about Arvato Financial Solutions and what we can do for you, contact me here.

If you want to know more about the future trends of the Finnish energy market, download the Energy Research, which has been published together with Taloustutkimus Oy and Arvato Financial Solutions.