Thierry Chambon explains how the internet of energy is causing organisations to rethink and reorganise the energy sector and make the shift to a more shared and sustainable model.
Energisme has developed a big data and IoT platform that allows energy performance players to take control of their energy consumption. It collects and aggregates all types of multi-fluid data coming from heterogeneous sources and then standardises and renders this data via its dashboards. It also provides its customers with predictive modelling tools.
Energisme, headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt in France, is playing a key part in the digitisation of the energy sector and the internet of energy.
Kurrant Talent: How do you define the internet of energy and how is the IoT making it possible?
Thierry Chambon: The internet of energy marks one of the most successful convergences of digital technologies with energy. It is rethinking and reorganising the energy sector to achieve a decentralised and shared energy model that is both sustainable and economical. The development of the IoT and digital technology, and the data able to be generated, mean it is possible to have access to a huge amount of information that can be shared to make better use of energy.
KT: Your business-to-business energy management solution is targeted at blue chip companies, as well as the public sector and citizen utilities. How do the energy management needs, and usage differ between public sector clients and private industrial companies?
TC: The real difference in use is between end-users and energy service providers. The former only work with data for themselves, to monitor their own energy consumption, while the latter, use the data mainly for their own customers. But both are impacted by the digitalisation of their businesses.
I am fully committed to the digitisation of energy and with this comes energy efficiency as well as many other things, such as the internet of energy
Utilities have to break down their data silos to create more and more use cases and end-users have to reappropriate data to better understand the structure of their consumption. The end-users at present are very passive about the consumption of energy but in the future they will be much more proactive.
KT: How do you manage the complexity of collecting, processing and sharing energy data given the potential conflict of interests between the various stakeholders and data privacy issues?
TC: We provide a tool that enables you to do this but the key issue is to have really good data governance. When you have real data governance, you can decide to transmit only the metadata, which means private data can be treated separately and in a specific way and you can preserve privacy. If you want to analyse and reduce the consumption, you need to match many kinds of data. So you need to have authorisation to use the data in this way otherwise there are privacy issues. And that’s why we must be very cautious with the metadata we send. We also have a data protection officer who oversees this.
KT: Having deployed the technology to more than 160 clients, how do you see energy management decisions being made differently and the creation of new services to end customers as a result?
Our SaaS portal is very customisable. We are often surprised when we see how a customer is using it and offering a new complementary service for consumption, optimisation or energy-saving commitments. There seem to be unlimited possibilities and it is always a pleasure for us when we see the clients using the portal in this way.
We are part of an intelligent and collaborative ecosystem in which every actor has a role to play. If someone or something is missing, you cannot complete the global chain.
Clients create a lot of reports from the dashboard and these are always different. For instance, they reveal that how people monitor heating often differs, depending on their point of views. This shows they have differing needs. That’s why we sell our portal as a white label solution – our portal becomes ‘their portal’. It is branded and becomes an internal tool for them.
KT: You took over Energisme in 2015 with two other partners and different rounds of investors have joined since. What was your main driver for embarking on this entrepreneurial adventure and what have been your main lessons learned?
TC: There are always new and unforeseen obstacles but if you are sure of your path, you are always able to move forward. Each day may throw up a different problem but as long as you have a vision and know where you want to be, by a certain point in time, you can overcome it and advance. It’s a case of coming into the office and saying, ‘what is today’s obstacle going to be’ and my job is to resolve it and get to where we need to be.
It is important to listen to but you need to be resilient and persistent about sticking to your own vision and pathway
My main driver was the fact that I am fully committed to the digitisation of energy and with this comes energy efficiency as well as many other things, such as the internet of energy. We are part of an intelligent and collaborative ecosystem in which every actor has a role to play. If someone or something is missing, you cannot complete the global chain.
KT: You have over 100 employees. Have you been able to recruit and onboard the talent you’ve needed over the past three years and what has been the main challenge around this?
TC: The onboarding of new employees is always a challenge and for us the challenge is bigger because our employees are very young and IT people have a habit of wanting to work alone. And with Covid, of course, there is even more remote work so the challenge has got bigger. Also, we do not have many senior people in our company to help with recruitment. So we have put trust and confidence in our existing people and told them to recruit and onboard their fellow workers. When I see what we have done, I think we were right to take this approach. We have already hired 14 people this year.
The market for IT engineers and developers can be a tough one but in our favour is that young people are interested in the energy transition and share the vision of the company. They know their work will have an impact and this is often something they talk about. This has helped us to differentiate ourselves from other sectors.
KT: Most of your clients are still in France. How are you planning to grow internationally from a business and talent perspective?
TC: Basically we want to capitalise on our major global clients with business networks, in Europe, Asia and North America, and we aim to build partnerships with international IT consultants. We will use these two levers to expand into international markets. We may open a subsidiary office in North America. We already have a subsidiary in Madrid and have some small clients there but have high expectations. Many of our major French clients have a presence in Spain.
KT: You have 4,000 investors, what would be your main advice to other entrepreneurs when dealing with multiple investors?
TC: They often come up with good ideas and it is important to listen to them. But you need to be resilient and persistent about sticking to your own vision and pathway. Our investors’ networks can also be used for business development.