Guest Blog: Michael Prager – Lessons from Lockdown: Work Collaboratively

How to grasp the new normal by its horns and make it work for you.

We’re driven by competition.  Nice guys come last, winners are grinners, greed is good, yada, yada, yada.  But that’s not how we behaved during lockdown is it? Government was extraordinarily helpful digging deep into the national pot, neighbours were neighbourly and businesses started looking at how they could reduce cost without reducing service and some figured out that you don’t need to do everything yourself right through the value chain.

So we’ve seen food providers share delivery services rather than replicate the same journey umpteen times, farmers establish co-operatives to sell their, competitive but differentiated product in one market, alongside older collaborative models like transport; airlines have long collaborated on safety and distribution through IATA whilst the traincos have done something similar on ticketing and revenue sharing through National Rail Enquiries and The Trainline –  a commercial company.  And there’s the funny thing, it often as not takes an outsider to create a shared model rather than an existing player, a) because often as not none of the existing players trust each other enough to form a collaborative entity b)  existing players are often so heavily invested in their particular model, financially and emotionally, that they can’t see past their immediate self-interest (as they perceive it) to build something bigger, better, newer.

Image: Shutterstock

Energy is ripe for collaboration.  The energy services market is highly fragmented both geographically and at each level of the value chain. We have in the UK a structure that goes from giant firms like the big power generators, to mid-size resellers of power, to data collectors and meter readers to SME software and service providers and through this value chain there is significant overlap of services like measurement  & monitoring, data analysis, demand optimisation.

Why? Well partly we don’t do collaboration, we do outsource, pretty much the picture above it takes an outsider and partly the economic pressure to do anything differently has been absent.  Not so any longer. There is a window of opportunity for firms serving the same market sector or customers with different products to work in a collaborative manner to reduce cost and improve service by each focusing on what they really do brilliantly and leaving what they don’t to the one who does. Post Covid there is also the realisation that collaboration can complement competition without destroying it.   But it takes a big thinker to take the first step. Will that be you? Happy to chat to any other firm in our sector that would like to explore the opportunities released by collaboration.

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