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Digital acceleration in the energy market

Elia is the operator of the Belgian transmission system for electricity from 30,000 to 400,000 volts. This grid stretches over a total of more than 8,896 kilometers of lines, underground and submarine cables throughout Belgium. Elia’s mission as a transmission system operator is of crucial importance to the community. They transmit electricity from producers to distribution grids so that they in turn can bring electricity to every consumer, both residential and business.

In addition to operating and maintaining the high-voltage grid, Elia has numerous other duties, such as those of market facilitator and balancer of production and offtake. In the wake of the energy transition and the disappearance of traditional generation plants, this role is evolving significantly and end consumers are taking on a central role. This leads to many opportunities and new possible energy services: automatic control of consumption in function of prices without loss of comfort, energy communities, peer2peer energy trading and much more.

To enable these kinds of consumer centric services, Elia launched the consumer centric market design in 2021 and organized a hackathon to develop energy services for the end consumer. (Hackathon (eliagroup.eu)) The team consisting of a strong Ordina representation, won the hackathon with an innovative energy community called ‘Greenbid’.

Elia then approached Ordina with the request to carry out a user study into people’s needs in the context of energy communities. Elia wanted to use this to focus on how they could best respond to this with digital transformation projects. After all, it is crucial to have a good understanding of which products or services are relevant to the end customer. In this way, you avoid spending unnecessary time and budget on initiatives that do not appeal to anyone.

Ordina’s approach

During the intake phase, the objectives and scope of the user research were determined in a series of workshops with Elia’s main business stakeholders.

With expectations aligned, the user researcher set to work drafting a protocol for conducting the interviews. This protocol describes the approach, the different target groups to be surveyed, the number of interviews to be conducted in order to arrive at actionable insights, and the questionnaires our user researcher uses as a guide to ensure the interviews run smoothly. For the interviews, several respondents were surveyed via an online video call.

Results

The results of the interviews were processed into a report with the most important insights and a series of concrete and workable recommendations. This enables Elia to use the research results for the further development of concepts within their digital transformation strategy. Finally, we created some clear personas that give Elia a clear picture of the needs, goals and wishes of the end customers.

A digital product with impact

How does user research in the early stages of a project contribute to a digital product with impact?

Every initiative starts from a number of assumptions. User research helps to validate or negate those assumptions
Concrete feedback gives valuable insights to design products and services from the outset that meet the real needs of users
You avoid unnecessarily spending time and budget on initiatives that don’t appeal to anyone
You gain confidence that your digital innovation projects are going in the right direction

Wondering how we can help you with customer needs identification? Get in touch with us!