Government to review how data and tech could improve customer experience in utilities sector

Written by Sam Trendall on 28 September 2018 in News
News

DCMS and BEIS to examine how legislation could be developed to ensure tech developments and data sharing benefit consumers across regulated markets

The government has launched a review of how the better use of data and technology could improve consumer experiences in the utilities space and other regulated sectors.

The Smart Data Review will look at “how we can accelerate the development and use of new data-driven technologies and services to improve consumer outcomes in regulated markets”, the government said. The cross-government review will be jointly led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Their findings and recommended next steps for the government will be announced early next year. 

A policy paper published today reveals that the goals of the review will include recommendations for how best to “accelerate the development of innovative intermediaries and other services which can improve the consumer experience”. A key part of this will be examining how government can “ensure that a wide range of consumers can benefit” from new technology and the better sharing of data.


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The government believes that, if used to best effect, these technologies could “strengthen competition, transform the consumer experience, and modernise consumer markets”.

The policy paper said: “New technologies have the potential to address many of the problems consumers face in regulated markets and strengthen competition. These include innovative intermediary services – such as automatic switching services and utility-management services – as well completely new business models and providers.”

It added: “These innovative services depend on access to customer data. However, too often this data is locked away in a manner that works against consumers and innovators. For example, the development of many of these services are constrained by difficulties in accessing data on consumers’ current tariff, their usage and the other available deals in standard formats.”

The government’s ultimate goal is to “establish a regulatory and policy framework which builds consumer trust in data portability and innovative intermediaries” in regulated consumer markets. 

The review will seek to involve all relevant parties, including “developers, intermediaries, regulated companies, consumer organisations, and charities”. Anyone wishing to contribute to the review or who has any questions is encouraged to email smartdatareview@beis.gov.uk. The government said that it “would particularly like to hear from providers of innovative data-driven consumer services, or those who are considering developing such a service”.

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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