The electric utility industry is engaged in a massive buildout of smart grid infrastructure, but the full benefits of this investment will only be realized if there is a similar transformation in customer engagement. Many utilities have realized that they need to dramatically change the way the way they view and manage customer relationships. According to a recent report from Pike Research, the deployment of smart meters is the key driving force in this revolution, enabling new consumer services and providing new insight into customer behavior.

As a result, the study concludes, the electric utility billing and customer information systems software and services market will nearly double in the next five years, growing from $2.3 billion in 2011 to $4.0 billion by 2017.

“Large U.S. investor-owned utilities looking to develop new revenue streams, European energy retailers working in a deregulated market, and utilities in the developing world seeking to improve revenue collection and energy auditing are all taking a new look at their requirements for billing and CIS,” says research director Eric Woods. “This shift requires utilities to master the product development, marketing, and customer relationship skills to ensure competitive success. In turn, the billing and CIS systems underpinning these business processes will have to step up to the challenge.”

Many legacy billing and CIS are technically unsuited for the emerging smart grid requirements. Another significant factor driving billing and CIS change will be customer and business process analytics. This technology will play an important role in guiding utilities in product development and market execution for the targeted offerings and bundles that will enable competitive differentiation, according to the report. Today, confusion still exists in the market about how and where to apply analytics to improve business outcomes, but the market will mature rapidly as a result of growing commercial pressures.