First Utilitywas one of the first energy suppliers to deliver dual-fuel smart meter solutions to consumers. Here,\u00a0CIO Bill Wilkins discusses how digital products can benefit energy consumers by saving an average of 5-6% per customer - and why that is good for First Utility.\nFour\u00a0of the seven board members at First Utility are from an IT background. CIO 100Bill Wilkins says the company\u00a0is currently rolling out\u00a0smart meters to its UK customers.\u00a0 The CIO discusses how the digital product can benefit customers in understanding energy consumption, and how this helps First Utility.\nSmart Meters \u2013 Changing energy consumption\nThe Smart Meter initiative will be part of a\u00a0UK Government programme and will be overseen by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.\nThe UK government plans to see the project rolled out to all UK customers and small businesses by 2020. The smart meter system will see First Utility customers save on average 5-6% energy, per customer, because of the tools provided that allow them to monitor in real time how much energy they are using.\nSince Wilkins' appointment at First Utility the company has been reinvented, with a shift from a cost-based strategy to a digital customer convenience focus.\nWilkins says:\u00a0"The primary goal is\u00a0to drive the relationship between the company and consumers."\nHe\u00a0says that\u00a0it was "not a challenge" introducing smart meters tocorporates with a "tech-orientated board", because he\u00a0believes the initiative will\u00a0help "understand customers better".\nThe programme will segment First Utility customers, by measuring every action and purchase they make on the online platforms. The smart meter system will improve First Utility's knowledge when producing and purchasing energy, reducing its cost in the energy market, giving consumers a better price for their fuel.\nFirst Utility's simple product structure will provide energy and enable customers to submit readings, SMS and video recordings all through their digital app.\nWilkins says "Customers can use what products are going to be more suitable for them."\nCustomers can also more accurately measure their own meters. Recently the\u00a0energy company\u00a0delivered the camera phone tool. This\u00a0tool will work the\u00a0app and will allow users to find the dials and read the meter.\nThe next 18 months will see First Utility's\u00a0system gain ownership of up to 150,000 dual smart meters. The solution will be funded by SMS service and part of its revolving credit facility.\nIt is early days, but First Utility is the UK's largest independent energy supplier and\u00a0the company is\u00a0willing to work with customers and grow the video recordings tool. The tool already generates\u00a0on average of 3,000 to 4,000 readings per week.\nChallenging the traditional model\nThe independent energy supplier has more than 950,000 customers, and Wilkins believes that\u00a0the smart meter programme can offer\u00a0a broader service to those\u00a0consumers.\nWilkins says the new technology will "accommodate traditional customers" who are not digitally literate.\nHe continues "It will give the chance for the customer to pick up the phone and speak to a team member." He asknowledges that the energy market has to\u00a0accommodate "all customers profiles" with some of the products being updated "not being the norm" to all consumers.\nHe says the investment in the new service will benefit customers because accurate consumption measurement means\u00a0not having to pay for\u00a0overestimates on a service they have not used or won't use. \u00a0And the new model should\u00a0engage customers to stay on top of the energy market and their energy consumption, through a smarter digital service\u00a0that\u00a0encourages customers to read and understand their meters.