As technology continues to advance, the energy broker sector is becoming more modernized. At the commencement of energy deregulation, energy brokers were forced to perform many manual processes. New technologies and softwares have streamlined operations, made markets more efficient, and even created new opportunities for energy brokers.
In this article, we discuss some of the more relevant technologies that have changed the way energy brokers do business.
Prior to many of the modern advancements in the retail energy sector, energy brokers operated like 1980’s stockbrokers. They sent manual price requests to suppliers, negotiated margin over the phone, and even had customers sign paper contracts.
With the recent development of new software platforms, energy brokers are able to streamline sales operations and become more efficient. Some of the new energy broker technologies allow for:
- Digital display of matrix prices from many suppliers
- Digital communication with suppliers for custom quotes
- Digital customer quoting
- Electronic signature of customer contracts
These advancements have allowed energy brokers to reduce labor costs and make sales processes simpler for their agents.
Some energy brokers operate online shopping websites that allow commercial and industrial customers to sign up with suppliers directly. Unlike traditional energy brokers who bring value to their customers through service, these shopping sites are all about price.
Some of the more prominent sites have developed software interfaces with retail energy suppliers, also known as API’s, that allow brokers to connect directly with suppliers’ backend software programs.
These API’s make it so that suppliers can update prices in their systems to automatically reflect on the broker’s website. Also, as customers enroll online, it eliminates the need for a manual deal submission from the broker. Rather, the supplier automatically receives the online enrollment through the API which cuts out manual intervention and streamlines the process.
Add-On Products and Solutions
While most brokers traditionally sell electricity and natural gas supply to their customers, some of the most successful energy brokers in the country are taking on roles of being a true energy advisor.
Rather than being one-dimensional, these brokers are looking for other ways to bring value to their customers through alternative energy solutions such as demand response or renewable products.
Some of these alternative energy solutions utilize technology to seamlessly integrate with customer’s systems. Demand response, for example, is the process by which customers can reduce peak energy load during times of high demand and receive cash incentives for doing so.
Since knowing when and how to shut down parts of your facility can be complex, many demand response companies have software components that can send signals to your breaker-board to turn off certain motors when a high-demand event might occur.
Energy brokers utilizing technology like this to provide additional value to customers are ahead of the game. These technologies make it simple for brokers to integrate solutions into their existing operations without having to take on the responsibility of managing a new product line.