On a daily occurrence Ted Howes leads IDEO’s Energy Domain. At this year’s NEXT conference Howes enters the stage to talk about sustainability.
He covers the theme Beautiful Mistakes with different examples from his long career. Howes points at the energy company PG&E as an example of a beautiful mistake.
Wireless technology blinded PG&E
PG&E saw an opportunity in embedding wireless technology to interact with their electric meters. Amazed by the new technological prospects, PG&E started replacing all of their older technologies with the new wireless ones. Soon their customers became concerned – were these new wireless connections actual harmful to people’s health?
Criticism was pouring over PG&E. Angry customers protested against the wireless technologies, but feeling overheard and forced to accept the replacement.
Listen to your customers
As a result, PG&E had to switch back to the old technology once again to satisfy their customers – a really expensive and troublesome learning. PG&E did however learn how much listening to customers is worth. Ted Howes points at the importance of letting users lead and play an active role in embedding new products – otherwise it is difficult, if not infeasible, to convince customers to embrace new technology in their everyday life. Even though PG&E’s attempt to embed wireless technology turned out a mistake, the energy company has learned a lesson.