One of the most important things is understanding the opportunity that data presentsJennifer Cherrington-Mowat, Genesis Energy\nWhen chief executive Marc England joined Genesis Energy in May, last year he had the vision for the company to be more than an energy supplier.\n\u201cHe said we have a relationship with our customer where we supply their electricity and then once a month they pay their bills, and it could be so much more than that,\u201d says Jennifer Cherrington-Mowat, executive general manager technology and digital at the power company. \n\u201cYou know, as a result of supplying energy, whether it is gas, electricity or LPG, there is data,\u201d says Cherrington-Mowat, who took on the newly created role, following roles in the UK for companies such as eBay UK, Amazon UK, Yahoo! Europe and, most recently, Electrocomponents PLC.\nThis data can help customers manage their accounts for their own comfort and convenience.\nIt\u2019s the smarter use of data, she says, that is the foundation behind Energy IQ, the beta testing environment for the power company\u2019s new products and services. \nEnergy IQ was launched to a group of around 25,000 customers in October.\nThe goal is to partner with customersto test and develop energy innovations and deliver products and services that give people more control and choices about their energy use.\nFollowing the beta phase, the products will be launched more widely to customers, assuming they get the latter\u2019s tick of approval during the beta testing.\nIn this way, Genesis is operating in the tech space by being agile and learning through testing and feedback with large numbers of people, or what she calls being in \u201ca constant growth mode\u201d.\nThe first product, Electricity Forecasting, combines the customer\u2019s electricity usage data with advanced data modelling techniques to produce an accurate weekly (updated daily at 2am) forecast of energy demand unique to the customer.\n\u201cWe are the only one doing this forecasting tool,\u201d she claims, as other companies will offer data on past usage.\nThe service applies machine learning to improve the accuracy of the forecast and adapt over time to customers' electricity needs. \nWe are starting to see now what digital can do for industries... It is all customer focused and it is not all about systemsJennifer Cherrington-Mowat, Genesis Energy\n\u201cThis is today, we predict you will spend this, your average spend is likely to be this and likewise this will be how much during the week and you can look at this data and it is based on all of your past energy usage,\u201d explains Cherrington-Mowat.\n\u201cPlus, information you told us, like you have five kids, you live in this kind of house and you have these many rooms.\n\u201cWe put in a bit of weather data as well, and we can help predict going forward what your energy cost is going to be so you can then make some decisions about what you would like to do.\n\u201cIt gives you the opportunity to say, 'What can I do differently?'\u201d\nNo caption\nShe says in the two weeks following Energy IQ's soft launch, they received feedback from 600 people, who gave the app a four out of five rating.\nShe says Genesis customers who have a smart metre can already sign up for Energy IQ.\nShe says new services are being deployed in stages through to the new year. All these will be using advanced big data\/machine learning and Internet of Things to give people more context to their energy use.\n\u201cThey are all based around working with customers on the sort of things they will find useful.\u201d\nShe says one product,for instance, will show the different types of energy use in the house, such as items that are always on, like the refrigerator and hot water usage.\n\u201cThe more you tell us, the more granular we can give you. The detail might say, your heat pumps cost this. Your lighting costs this. You can make some choices about the time and the types of energy use you have.\u201d\nAs to what next, she says it is getting out there using anonymised data.\n\u201cWe can see collective behaviour of consumers and businesses and so we can start to give them more information, if they feed us back information as well.\u201d\nThe more information we have, the more we can tell people how they are using their energy, how they might save money and have different ways of managing their energy budget, she states. \n\u201cIt is not for everybody, but for families who are interested in managing a budget, who are thinking what [appliances] they are going to turn on, or about more energy efficient products, that is important stuff.\n\u201cThey will be able to see the difference.\n\u201cOne of the most important things is understanding the opportunity that data presents,\u201d she says.\nShe then takes an example from an adjacent and much disrupted industry, retail.\n\u201cI might walk to a store and if I am lucky, somebody will smile at me, and then I will visit a number of areas,\u201d she says.\nShe points out chances are nobody will be speaking to her as she does this. \u201cPerhaps I will buy something or perhaps I will leave and the store will know nothing about my visit.\u201d\nWhereas, she says, when she will go to an online store like Amazon, it will welcome her and remind her the last time the store had delivered the following stuff for her.\nIt will also tell her about things she may be interested in based on her past purchases and browsing history.\n\u201cAll they are doing is using data,\u201d she says. \u201cAnd I feel I have a relationship with them because they are personalising things for me.\n\u201cLikewise, the more [data] customers choose to share with us, the more we can do for them.\u201d\n\u201cWe have got all of this data and [are] now turning it into stuff relevant to people,\u201d she says.\n\u201cI think that is the same across any industry,\u201d she says, \u201cso getting people who understand the value of data, who think about how to combine bits of data and what is the outcome of doing all of these things together [is important].\u201d \nShe says what worked for Genesis was the way the teams have worked together.\nWe said, \u2018what things are important to customers?\u2019\n The company started what she calls an \u201cincubation team\u201d.\n\u201cThey spend quite a lot of time talking to customers,\u201d she says. \u201cIf you could understand more about your energy use, what would be useful, why would it be useful?\u2019\nShe says the incubation unit has a classic agile setup.\n"We have a product owner, a scrum master, some developers, customer services people and marketing,\u201d she says. Some data people from her team are part of the unit.\nSam Fowler, scrum master and his team at Genesis Energy\nGet people who understand the value of data, who think about how to combine bits of data and what is the outcome of doing all of these things togetherJennifer Cherrington-Mowat\nThey work on the same floor with the team that runs My Account platform that allows users to manage their account online.\nThere is constant back and forth exchange of ideas between the teams.\n\u201cIf I do this, how will that affect the user interface, that kind of thing? They all work together and they are all excited...Because this is quite cool for the energy industry.\u201d\n\u201cWe are on the cusp of a digital evolution,\u201d she says.\n\u201cWe are starting to see now what digital can do for some of these industries...It is all customer focused and it is not all about systems.\u201d\nShe says this was what happened during the two hackathons they held this year. \nA third one is scheduled for early 2018, with customers as major participants.\nThe first one, held in March,focused on reimagining the customer experience through the use of mobile and\/or digital technologies.\nIt resulted in the creation of a Hololens and Augmented Reality experience that showed real-time power usage. The winning team also pitched a chatbot to help customer queries. It is now live on the Genesis website, with six other ideas pitched during the hackathon also in development.\nThe winning team during the inaugural hackathon\nThe second hackathon focused on big data, ML and IOT; combining the skills of data scientists with energy generation engineers.\nThree projects have been invested in, with the winning project featuring a mobile app that allows access to information held about an asset, while in the field.\nTeams in action during the second hackathon held at the Huntly power station in Waikato.\n\u201cThese projects are all around data, and how they can help the generation plant more effectively and efficiently, and keep people safe as well,\u201d she says.\n\u201cIt is now a case of we have got lots of choices [on projects], what are the ones that we can follow up on?\u201d\n\u201cThere will be lots of great stuff coming up,\u201d she says, smiling.\n\u201cYou expect that in this day and age.\u201d\nBecause, if you are not going to move, \u201cyou become irrelevant.\u201d\nJennifer Cherrington-Mowat joins the team of scrum master Sam Fowler (Photo by Divina Paredes)\n\nA CIO\u2019s top tip for building career resilience: Jennifer Cherrington-Mowat explains why everyone should have an experience working in sales\n\nSend news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.