Expert view | Energy Trading 3.0: Digital-washing or Powerful Lever for Growth?
by Igal Madar
Digitalization and “as-a-service” have taken over the global information web. Are these buzzwords, mere passing fads? Not within ENGIE’s "Global Energy Management" Business Unit, where they are the reality of energy management 3.0: an inevitable transformation and, most of all, a tremendous lever for growth.
In the energy sector, our clients are increasingly demanding. They seek to optimize their energy portfolio in a fast and ultra-competitive manner, and the evolution of the markets since 2008 is such that we can no longer stand out from the competition based on commodities alone. These customers are also committed to a sustainable and transparent approach. Competitors and new entrants have understood this, some of them are very different from typical energy suppliers: GAFAM-type players and start-ups specializing in artificial intelligence are entering the market, leveraging sharp customer knowledge based on Big Data.
ENGIE has had its finger on the pulse of these trends for several years already. Edouard Neviaski, CEO of the Group’s Global Energy Management Business Unit, has placed digital transformation at the heart of our strategy by giving us four major keys to redefine our way of doing business: trust, autonomy, support and means.
Trading 3.0: data, customer experience granularity and future-readiness
This transformation is spurred, above all, by our desire to always be as close as possible to the client's needs. Initially, digitization was focused on automating trading processes. This allowed us to gain speed, reduce certain operational risks and, crucially, free up time and reduce our costs. This was already a great benefit for our clients.
But beyond the automation of processes, we have been able to develop new ways of doing business. Collecting, centralizing and organizing data allows us to deepen the knowledge of our clients, continuously approach new market trends and co-construct e solutions with them, always seeking to be increasingly responsive.
In two years, we have set up no less than five digital platforms. Each is the result of a constant dialogue with our stakeholders, customers, partners, etc. They are now available worldwide as modular, future-ready and adaptable services. We no longer sell an electricity or gas contract alone: we provide expertise, resources and knowledge, in whole or in part, according to our customer's specific needs.
Today, our Business Unit is making its many activities “e-available”, such as instant energy market access, automated contract management and a blockchain platform enabling our customers to select their green assets and certify their renewable energy at source.
Digitalization in service of green growth
ENGIE's ambition is to lead the transition to a neutral carbon world. This ambition, initially relayed by government authorities, has been decentralized and it is now customers and local authorities who want to embody a sustainable tomorrow.
Digital technology is at the heart of this approach. How can we boost the energy efficiency of our industrial customers? How can we enable them to adapt their consumption? How can we reduce demand, and therefore production? How can we enable customers to track their green electricity at source? All this is made possible today by centralizing our customers’ data in a smart and organized manner. With this data, we can help them transform their consumption and production patterns: adapting demand according to grid balancing needs, local flexibility, optimizing production processes–these services we provide within ENGIE are concrete illustrations of greening through data.
The secret to a successful digital transformation
Seen from all these angles, digital transformation seems to be a 360° success! But this requires embarking all traders and team members on the journey.
The key concept in digital transformation is “transformation”. Whatever the objective of the endeavor, transformation can be impelled, spread, and embraced within the organization only through genuine accompaniment and guidance. Because these words can seem to be posturing, I would specify that internal transformation requires us to proceed exactly as we do with our clients: by constantly listening, sharing, respecting other viewpoints and putting things into perspective; we must accept initial reluctance in order to gradually open up all the possibilities offered by transformation. Digitalization is not just a question of transforming processes; it’s meant to provoke enthusiasm! It is a change in our state of mind, and an exciting, engaging challenge.
Whatever the changes associated with our jobs, we can rely on skills that will endure beyond any transformation: acumen, thoroughness, which go hand in hand with intuition inherent to our business and daily lives. The transformation we are going through today is essential to ensure our growth; we must make it a success, and get ready for the next revolution, which, I feel, will increasingly use data to bring energy ever closer to the consumer.
Igal Madar biography
With more than 15 years of experience in energy markets, Igal has comprehensive expertise in all their aspects – from IT to financial analysis, algorithmic trading, and more. He joined ENGIE's Global Energy Management Business Unit 6 years ago and currently manages the desk dedicated to e-trading, which comprises data scientists, sales teams and traders.
Igal notably pilots the business development of EGMA, ENGIE's digital trading platform supported by a team of 25. He also sits on the board of the start-up Kiwi Power, the UK leader in flexible electricity solutions, supported by ENGIE.