EMACS 2019: Delivering in a digital, data-driven landscape

Rachael Harper, Research Manager –

Speakers, Sessions and Second Lines, OH MY!

EMACS 2019, held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in New Orleans, was filled with compelling and insightful data, discussion and deep dives with utility leaders and winners of Chartwell’s Best Practices Awards. Attendees heard a wide range of perspectives from executives and thought leaders inside and outside the industry, gladly sharing their valuable insights for improving the customer experience.

Here are a few takeaways:

Data Analytics

  • Data analytics continues to challenge utilities, especially those still working to align legacy data systems to provide a 360-degree view of the customer.
  • Many utilities have integrated new CRM platforms to gain visibility into customer data for improving the customer experience and achieving internal operational efficiencies.
  • Many still struggle with integrating (AMI) Advanced Metering Infrastructure data in a way that allows for complete oversight of customer data such as energy usage, time-of-use rates and outage information. This data is not only important for operations, analytics, budgeting and forecasting; it can also illuminate pain points for customers that are unable to be traced when customer data is siloed and not accessible by other departments.
  • With the industry moving toward omni-channel alignment and creating several touchpoints in multiple channels, it has become even more important for utilities to organize and centralize their data management systems to leverage that data and improve their customer experience. Only when you have your data organized can you begin to gain a holistic view of your customers, analyze and move toward predicative analytics.
  • With the plurality of utilities touting initiatives to centralize CIS and CRM systems, data analytics that provide a complete view of a customer might not be far away.


  • Many utilities have implemented Robotic Process Automation (RPA), mostly for back office and administrative tasks. However, with the ever-evolving pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency, it’s easy to see why utilities are interested in automating tasks that free up personnel and reduce costs. As utilities become more sophisticated and build out their technical teams, we will see them become more comfortable with automation.

Digital Experience

  • It was all about the digital experience at EMACS 2019, and for good reason. Many utilities cited website re-designs, portal overhauls and implementation of chatbots as their top initiatives in hopes of reducing costs by increasing customer self-service and reducing traffic to the contact center.
  • Delivering a great digital experience is paramount for utilities aiming to increase customer self-service and satisfaction. According to Chartwell research, 33% of residential customers prefer using a digital channel to communicate with their power company about a problem and even more prefer digital options for routine transactions and getting information.
  • Many utilities already have realized the benefits of improving the digital experience, and many more will follow suit as the industry adapts to a digital landscape.