It is an enormously exciting area and one of huge opportunity. The shift is that connectivity is going into the more ordinary aspects of life, so it’s transforming everyday things.
British Gas is already into it and there are three areas that we’re currently working on.
The first is the roll-out of smart meters and accompanying smart energy reports. We’ve installed more than 1.3m smart meters, which send regular, accurate readings of energy consumption. These help consumers make choices on their energy use, and we’re finding they have an increasing appetite for information and are engaging with it. The report breaks down energy use for parts of the home, lists the top six appliances for consumption and compares energy spend with other households.
The second is Hive – a new brand we have launched. Hive Active Heating offers the ability to control heating and hot water from your smartphone. It is the first of several products that will roll out under this brand name. Most customers that have Hive use it at least once a day, and in different ways – not just when out, but also when in bed, for example. The Net Promoter Score with Hive is very good – smart connected products like this makes them stickier to the brand.
The third area we’re exploring is connected boilers, which we’re trialling and looking at rolling out later this year. These boilers have sensors that can give customers and servicing teams information about what’s going on inside them. They can monitor and alert you to faults or inefficiencies, and when something has broken down an alert will be sent to customers and installers. This means British Gas can arrive with an understanding of what needs to be repaired, minimising the customer’s time without a functional boiler.
The internet of things is only scratching the surface in everyday products that can be transformed.