Saving money and energy at home: creating an ‘AI energy consultant’.
Opinno Italy Teams Up with Global Energy Giant to Revolutionize Energy Consulting with Phygital Approach
The Opinno team in Italy has been working with a world leader in the development of innovative solutions for energy transition on a project aimed at assessing whether users (current and potential energy company customers) would be interested in hiring an energy consultant’s services to be advised on how to reduce their energy costs. This business model would work through face-to-face assistance from the energy consultant who, supported by digital tools, would prepare a customized report for each individual user.
Developing an Energy Consultancy Solution
It all started with a ‘vision’: to explore the feasibility of creating a figure of an ‘energy consultant’, a person who would go to people’s homes and analyze a series of parameters in a more or less automated way and based on that information, share recommendations about their home in regard to energy efficiency.
The benefits are threefold: for customers, it saves money and energy on their bills; for the company, it represents a new way of diversifying its sources of income, as well as approaching current and potential customers (to whom it provides a differential value) and positioning itself as a benchmark in sustainability; and for the environment, as the impact on the planet is reduced and sustainable practices are encouraged.
It was December 2022, and the conversation was taking place at a business meeting between a team from Opinno and the main directors of the business line in charge of energy transition and digitalization at the firm, a company with more than 70 million customers and a presence in 18 countries.
One year later, the Opinno team – led by Manuel Camporro, and including Sebastián Guelfand, Business Designer; and Andrea Slaviero and Edoardo Caccavale, Market Researchers – has already carried out a market validation and benchmarking exercise throughout the world (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain…).
In addition, it has come up with a cross-cutting solution and analyzed its fit in the firm’s ecosystem, developed a digital tool that automatically generates a report, studied the performance of different models based on a research with potential users and the elaboration of a financial plan.
In this, “we are projecting a go-to-market strategy for the next three to five years that allows the solution to be sustainable, financially self-sufficient and, in addition, has enormous potential for generating energy leads,” analyzes Manuel Camporro, Project Leader at Opinno.
2.500 potential customers and savings up to 70%
In five years, it could generate more than 2,500 new customers. “This is the most conservative case, and already with these parameters, the solution could generate a significant profit,” recalls Sebastián Guelfand.
In addition, it could generate savings of up to 70% of the user’s energy bill, as a maximum estimate. “If the user were to apply the two or three recommendations with the greatest impact, he could save 20%-30% in an average Italian house,” Camporro adds.
To this end, the solution is based on six key elements (architectural aspects of the house, energy bills, family behavioral habits, household appliances, possibility of installing solar panels and electrification potential) and is adapted to the needs and culture of the Italian people, who prefer “some kind of human contact” (as opposed to countries such as the USA, where they prioritize complete digitalization).
So, the focus is on phygital (physical-digital); but how can this physical point of contact be achieved without involving extra cost and effort for the potential customer and the company?
“We decided to take advantage of the widespread presence of the company’s customer service centers, of which there are more than a thousand throughout Italy (…). It was a win-win, because it enhances the functions of these establishments, generating this new income,” explains Guelfand.
Finally, in the near future the energy consultant “can benefit from artificial intelligence”, envisions Manuel Camporro: “This project has been developed to coincide with the generative AI boom. We have dreamed how tomorrow it would be fantastic to take your cell phone, scan a fridge, your microwave, your whole house and have artificial intelligence process that information” and help you save even more and better.
The most positive thing he takes away from the project and the team, he concludes, is the hope they have in new technologies: “We refused to believe that there wasn’t already a solution that was using AI to generate reports of this type or to process the information fully automatically”.
“What the client wanted was to see how they could provide this service, and so we joined forces to take it a step further by finding the right balance between digitalization and the interests present in the Italian market,” says the Project Leader.
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