E.ON: Establishing a customer-centric innovation process for Germany
The energy market is undergoing a revolution and suppliers must turn to customers to understand how they should operate in new conditions. the savvy company created a customer-focused innovation process to combat these struggles.
Utilities have traditionally been a commodity market, but this is no longer true. Big energy providers are facing heavy pressure from many sides these days. They are being increasingly challenged by new entrants which are often faster in applying regulatory and technological changes – including those related to environmental issues – into their strategies. Such dynamic environment demands constant innovation and adaptation to customers’ needs.
New approach to innovation
Because the industry landscape is radically transformed by external forces, the only way to find the right direction is orientation on the customers. Firms need to be constantly open to creating new kinds of solutions and business models, which often lie outside of their core activities.
In order to prepare E.ON for these challenges, the innovation process and innovation management had to be remodeled. Using the Design Thinking toolkit, the savvy company organised and implemented the innovation activities in a way that put the customer in the center.
The project was divided into three main parts:
- Establishing the Design Thinking methods as appropriate solutions for creating the customer-focused organisation
- Anchoring the crucial processes in the organisation without destroying existing efficient processes
- Conveying the know-how to the employees and creating an innovation culture
The introduction of the customer-centric innovation process changed fundamentally how customer experiences are created and had a significant impact on the introduction of new products and services. The innovative solutions introduced lead to a higher customer satisfaction and as a result to major cost savings in customer service.
The role of the savvy company
With different stakeholders and their perspectives in mind, the savvy company coordinated the efforts of the substantial project. The development of the innovation process was conducted on equal terms with each stakeholder group, which also helped to generate the maximum possible number of useful insights.
The concept itself was created in the following way: After a single process has been defined, it was enriched with Design Thinking methods and then gradually developed. The outcome was a set of frameworks which allowed for the optimal use and further improvement of incremental and disruptive innovations.
Finally, the implementation process was completed by the successive introduction of further methods. The savvy company helped define the business rationale and supported E.ON during the introduction of the E.ON Ideenlabor (Idea Lab).
The Idea Lab is an online platform which enriches the methodological toolkit with Open Innovation methods. Its main purpose is to use ideas and opinions of employees and customers to test and refine existing projects in cooperation with the community. This way it is much easier for E.ON to be up-to-date with customer needs and to generate new interesting ideas. It also facilitates its strategic reaction to regulatory changes, for example by monitoring customers’ views and needs related to environmental policies.