Utilities that are serious about customer engagement might take a page from the Consumer Electronics Show, now drawing the multitudes in Las Vegas. CES has loads of "green energy" products on display, which might spark utilities' creative juices on the engagement issue. At least one major utility is working the show.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas offers some instructive opportunities to compare and contrast that world with the power industry.
First, the CES is an orgy of shiny gadgets and gi-normous televisions. Honestly, once televisions become wall-sized, the only advancement possible is to actually shove the viewer out onto the hockey rink and cudgel him with a stick. Why merely watch the game when you can deliver and receive virtual body blows? Oh, it's coming, folks. Just mix gaming and 3-D-motion-sensitive body suits and live events and you're there. Presuming you want to be. I'd give it five years, tops. Fantasy football? Show me what you can do with that left-handed shot-put and a football, okay?
I digress. Only slightly. Consumer electronics operate on an annual, sometimes semi-annual basis, with new developments expected and delivered on par with fashion accessories, which they've become. The power industry, as we all know, must operate on much longer timeframes and style be damned. It's about functionality around high voltages. Except when you reach the utility-customer interface, where these two disparate worlds meet. The power industry talks about "customer engagement" like Sisyphus mentioned his favorite boulder. CES draws 100,000 people like zombies drawn by a midnight incantation.
Could there be any symbiosis between two worlds with such different drivers, cultures and trajectories?
Well, it's already happening. We remarked upon it last year in "Smart Grid Consumers Up for Grabs?"  and "The Smart Grid ... at the Consumer Electronics Show ." The question for the power industry is how to leverage any