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Energy Storage Represents Latest Investment Opportunity in the Clean Energy Transition

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Alan Greenshields, Director of Europe, ESS Inc. 

The ongoing transition to clean energy has spurred new technologies, new markets and new opportunities for investors seeking to invest in a sustainable future and earn solid returns on their investments. Energy storage, a critical component of the clean energy future, is gaining notice by utilities, large-scale energy users and investors. Today, as the world reels from energy shocks stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and grapples with the ongoing consequences of global warming, investors seeking opportunities in the clean energy space are moving towards the massive opportunity presented by energy storage.

The UK Government recently published its “Energy Security Strategy” which established a target of 95% low carbon electricity by 2030. Achieving this target will require not only significantly more wind and solar generation, but Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) solutions that can economically store and release clean energy over 10+ hours to balance the inherently intermittent nature of renewable resources like wind and solar. LDES technologies store valuable renewable energy when it is plentiful and ensure that energy is available when it is needed, eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

As the clean energy transition gains momentum, the rapidly growing need for LDES is already driving a new market with ample opportunities for investment.

 

The Decreasing Cost of Renewables Enables the Clean Energy Transition

Since 2010, the cost to deploy wind and solar energy has declined substantially. Today, they are among the lowest-cost options for new generation capacity. Meanwhile, recent geopolitical upheaval has driven up the price of fossil fuels and underscored the volatile nature of global energy markets. Gas prices have skyrocketed, and the UK energy price cap increased by 54% in April 2022, with speculation that the cap could increase by a further 30-50% in October.

Due to its low costs and both environmental and geopolitical developments, the transition to clean energy is proceeding rapidly. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the renewable energy sector is expected to grow 50% between 2019 and 2024.

However, even with improvements in technology, wind and solar remain intermittent sources of electricity. For the successful transition to renewables, the UK will need to couple wind and solar with energy storage to fully utilize these renewable energy resources and replace fossil fuels.

 

The Opportunity for LDES Technology

Today, the energy system is increasingly supplied by intermittent renewables and primarily balanced by fossil fuel generators which are able to augment the variation in wind and solar generation to maintain grid stability. With Lithium-ion (LI-ion) technology as the incumbent, most battery energy storage projects built to date have durations below four hours.  While these can help smooth brief fluctuations in generation, they lack the capacity needed to provide baseload renewable energy and fully replace fossil fuel generators over longer timeframes.

With these projects built on Li-ion technology, the same technology that powers most cell phones and EVs, they suffer from a number of operational and practical drawbacks which make them poorly suited for grid-scale storage. Risk of fire, reliance upon critical minerals and capacity fade, as you have likely observed with cell phone batteries, are just a few of the constraints presented by Li-ion technology.

New long duration technologies are now available which offer advantages over existing battery systems. For example, iron-flow batteries, such as those manufactured by ESS Inc., are now commercially available and offer a number of advantages over their Li-ion predecessors.

The new LDES systems on the market are ideal for long duration, (4 – 24 hour) energy storage. Where Li-ion system costs increase roughly in proportion to storage capacity, iron-flow batteries rely upon a low-cost electrolyte made of iron, salt and water, which is not only non-toxic and fully recyclable, but allows the cost-effective addition of capacity. At long durations, iron flow batteries are the most cost-effective form of energy storage. And, the technology is not theoretical: Iron flow batteries have already been successfully deployed at a number of utility and commercial sites.

Demand for long duration energy storage is already growing with over $3bn invested in technology providers in the last five years. These investments represent a start, but much more LDES capacity will be required in coming decades. According to McKinsey & Co., the world will need between 85 and 140 TWh of long duration energy storage by 2040 to achieve carbon neutrality.

 

Sustainable Energy Systems

Investments in the energy transition will enable society’s shift towards low-cost renewable energy to minimize climate change and deliver returns for years to come. LDES will be the lynchpin of that clean energy future, enabling wind and solar to provide baseload power and fully retire fossil fuel generators. The opportunity is commensurate with the need for LDES solutions as LDES technologies attract unprecedented interest from governments, utilities and transmission operators. This sector presents both short and long-term benefits which will deliver not only a return on investment, but a lower cost, more sustainable and more secure energy system.

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The power of a proactive customer service

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By Delia Pedersoli, COO, MultiPay

 

2023 is shaping up to be another challenging period for B2C businesses. While the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has for now largely disappeared, new challenges like the cost-of-living crisis have arrived. As economic uncertainty impacts every consumer business from retail to travel and leisure experiences, service providers and suppliers must double down on their customer service to help clients through these challenging times. One area of customer service that is particularly important – and often overlooked – is proactivity.

A move to a more proactive customer service approach should not come at the expense of reactive measures. Regardless of how well-prepared customer service teams are and how detailed processes are, there will always be unforeseen and unexpected issues that need to be addressed. But by working in tandem, B2B service providers can deliver the service that customers now expect.

In recent years, the landscape has changed. Customers expect proactivity and for suppliers to understand what they want. Data from Salesforce that covered both consumers and business customers identified that two-thirds of respondents expect the suppliers they buy from to understand their needs and expectations. Not only this, but those that do take a proactive approach to customer service see a full point increase in their NPS.

Delivering a first-class proactive customer service is therefore a key requirement for businesses wanting to build and develop long-term relationships with their customers. However, for many businesses, it can be hard to know what to focus on and improve to attain the proactivity required. At MultiPay we have made proactivity a core part of our customer service, which has allowed us to identify several important factors.

A proactive process

Delia Pedersoli

The first area to focus on is getting close to customers. The more you know about a customer, how their business works, what the goals are and where there are challenges all helps in identifying areas to support with a proactive customer service. A good method to structure these insights is to conduct a SWOT analysis. Knowing the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of a client helps identify areas that may need support soon. On top of this, it is important to invest time in speaking with clients. Not only will this help with the SWOT, but it can also highlight areas for operational improvements. Speaking with people from across the business allows you to truly get under its skin.

Knowledge is power when it comes to enhancing the proactivity of customer service. In addition to getting under the skin of a business, it is also important to understand its industry inside and out. Staying on top of key trends, themes, and issues affecting a client’s industry and sector helps with remaining on the front foot. Recently at MultiPay, we experienced a scenario that brought this home, working with one of Europe’s largest tourism operators, The Travel Corporation (TTC) which needed to bounce back quickly following the Covid-19 pandemic. With consumers excited to travel again, TTC needed a customer service and payments solution that could quickly scale and support its on-the-move workforce of travel directors. Working closely with TTC’s team along with monitoring the news and industry trends like the lifting of travel restrictions we were able to be proactive in scaling up operations in anticipation of key markets reopening. Staying ahead of the curve meant we were prepared to deliver new or replacement payment terminals at very short notice to travel directors anywhere in Europe. As a result, we eliminated the risk of downtime and loss of earnings that TTC could have suffered if there had been delays.

Planning for success

In addition to knowing a client’s business and their sector inside and out, it is also important to remember that no two businesses are ever the same. While some tactics and strategies may work for one, they may not translate to another. By getting to know clients, customer service can be tailored to them and their unique needs. Working with TTC for example, we learnt that its travel directors when out in the field, often lack an internet connection. Consequently, they needed to be highly self-sufficient. To achieve this, we developed a bespoke handbook that provided a step-by-step guide to setting up payment devices and solving common issues. On top of this, a dedicated hotline was launched, allowing travel directors to quickly gain help if needed when they did have connectivity. Taking the time to develop tailor-made services specific to TTC and its travel directors, helped provide the agility the business needed and removed pressure from TTC’s internal team.

Of course, before developing a user guide or establishing a hotline a plan needs to be created. Taking the time to meticulously map out the strategy and tactics to support a business is key. Factoring known events or challenges into a plan is vital in getting ahead of them. For instance, as well as navigating the reopening of travel destinations, our work with TTC also meant we had to work around the global chip shortage causing delays in device deliveries. To plan around this, we purposefully pre-ordered additional handsets that could be kept on standby. Then when a request for a new terminal came in, we didn’t have to let the client experience the delays caused by the chip shortage. In doing so we could ensure a smooth flow of devices to travel directors.

With so much uncertainty in the world currently, there has never been more of a need for proactive customer services from B2B suppliers. By building up a knowledge basis of a client’s business, their industry, and then planning and tailoring approaches accordingly, B2B suppliers can help their customers thrive in 2023 while also emerging as true partners. When uncertainty hits as much as we are now seeing, planning, and proactively become more important than ever.

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Digital Asset Management (DAM) To Transform Enterprise Brand Management

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Alexander Rich, Co-founder and CEO Desygner 

 

Rapid digital transformation fuelled by the pandemic has undoubtedly proven beneficial to overall business outcome. However, today we are witnessing the age of hyper-digitalisation. With user or employee generated content exposed to multiple channels of distribution, monitoring content that is authentic and on-brand is becoming an increasing challenge and threat to brand image, authority and identity. The present day branding team has a mountainous task to create, streamline, and monitor a huge number of branded files each time costing businesses a large amount of time and money.

According to a report by SkyQuest, the global digital asset management market was valued at USD 3.68 billion in 2021, and it is projected to attain a market value of USD 9.32 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 14.2% over the forecast period 2022–2028.

Businesses are warming up to the concept of digital asset management (DAM). However, it is important to have a clear understanding of a DAM system to assess its significant impact on business. Let’s examine closely as to why DAM is an impeccable one-stop-solution for enterprise brand management.

What is a Digital Asset Management system?
Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is a centralised repository of visual files which includes, branding files, images, audio/video files, graphics, templates or any form of branded documents that are made easily accessible to anyone within the network of users. DAM tools are designed to achieve maximum business efficiency for creating and sharing of branded assets that are on brand and compliant to brand governance. Advanced smart DAM systems also offer AI driven intelligent features including animation, printing and multiple linguistic translation.  With the help of a DAM, users can effortlessly share huge files, resize and format their media, track usage patterns, and manage any digital file.

Increased Business Efficiency Cost and time effective
With organisations adopting remote and hybrid working models, access to information and company assets can be a huge challenge. Plus, with hyper automation, businesses are evaluating for better resource allocation and reduce  the production cost for speedy delivery and enhanced customer experiences.

DAM enables an ecosystem within an organisation which breaks inter-departmental silos. With an ideal digital asset management system, branding teams can create and store complex design assets with inbuilt restrictions for compliance while employees with no-designs skills can access pre-approved branded files with quick turnaround time to share with customers. Investing in an effective DAM system can bring 100 times the ROI for businesses saving not just valuable time and cost.

Brand management and Brand Governance
The volume of user generated content (UGC) disseminated globally with real-time personalisation is driving organisations to look for solutions that help them lead and control corporate branding while at the same time eliminate roadblocks of brand design and marketing bottleneck. With the adoption of DAM, employees can work with pre-approved ready to use assets cutting down dependency on design teams for a multitude of alterations in designs and templates. This means empowering employees to custom create pre-approved branded content that can be adapted to the local language & markets for specific business requirements – be it for sales, HR, marketing or social media promotion. Also, unlike the older version of asset management system which doesn’t allow control over utilisation, an advanced DAM notifies users of newer versions of templates every time restrictions are established by the admin. And since these assets are pre-approved and on-brand, each touch point of communication with users, partners, vendors and social media by employees can be used to promote brand advocacy.

Updating Legacy files:
With the multi-channel communication across a dynamic tech landscape and geographies, the ways and format in which we use branding assets have changed drastically. Many organisations today find themselves using outdated files that are no longer synchronised to the current tech landscape. Which means, these files are no longer usable for sharing in social media, emails or any visual formats. Not just that, the bulk of files that are outdated seem like a mammoth task for the design teams to individually update. Now imagine that, with a DAM in place, brand managers can choose the latest features and compliances to update all branded files with just a click of a button. Within seconds, the outdated files are updated and are ready to use saving time and cost.

Security & compliance:
For any business, information management and security of critical assets is an absolute priority. Streamlining content management with a centralised DAM system to control, regulate and monitor content can ensure safe sharing of content that is compliant and in line with company branding policies each time. A DAM system can control access and trace every single iteration to assets thereby limiting breach  against content malpractices.

Conclusion:
With marketing automation taking a centre stage in an increasingly UGC landscape, DAM has a significant role to play in enterprise brand management to both increase productivity by minimising operational silos and empower businesses to promote brand advocacy.

 

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