A struggle is underway for ownership of the utility business. Not a fight between companies, but a struggle within each company for the future of the utility.
The battle pits two groups against each other. One side consists of the operational professionals, such as the engineers who build and maintain the power grid. The other side includes an emerging group of marketing and communications professionals.
In the past, the engineers "owned" the company. They built the products and services offered to the public. Regulators and senior managers followed their lead, defining after the fact how services would be presented and priced. Today, however, the marketers have emerged as the new force. To carry out their job, the marketers must define, support, and sell services for various market segments. Ignoring (in a sense) the internal operations and corporate infrastructure, this new group responds to the pull of the market.
This battle (em engineers versus communicators (em will define the future of the utility company. No resolution lies in sight until full competition takes over the utility product market. Until then, utility companies must somehow contain the battle, even while letting it continue to bring out the best of each group. Otherwise, management runs the risk of encouraging divergent and incompatible business strategies.
Since the battle is inevitable, what's the best strategy for marketers and communicators?
The Battle is Joined
At present, the utility sales force remains closely aligned with the engineers (em and for good reason. Sales people work against sales targets. To meet their goals, they need something to sell. Only the engineers can supply that product. That is why the engineers currently hold the upper hand.