The Digital Home Virtual Conference

Delivering utilities in a smart, connected way

For many companies, COVID-19 has expedited their digital transformation timeline and accelerated the adoption of digital ways of working. Digital technologies are not only having a huge impact on the way utilities do business, but also on how they engage with their customers. 

Smart home technology offers customer-centric utilities the opportunity to compete commercially outside of the regulatory framework, paving the way for new revenue streams and business models. In this Virtual Conference, we looked at how utilities can define and develop a connected home platform that drives new business growth, the impact of smart home technologies on different households and consumer profiles, and the projects that are taking advantage of technology to enable lifestyle improvements, power system security and enhanced water management.



Charlotte Pordage, Editor, Utility magazine
Welcome remarks

Charlie Richardson, Utilities Lead in Australia and New Zealand, Accenture
Putting the human first in the future home

The future home is not merely a collection of internet-connected gadgets and protocols. The future home is an attitude - which is why companies must understand the complex emotional motivations that are rooted in the home.

PANEL - Taking advantage of technology to enable a new way of living
Bruce Hansen, Group Manager Gas Networks, Evoenergy

Dr David Bergmann, Research and Development Manager, South East Water

Renae Sambrooks, Virtual Power Plants & Orchestration, Synergy

Yolande Strengers, Associate Professor of Digital Technology and Society, Monash University
Digital Energy Futures: industry visions of technology and people

Everyday practices in Australian households are changing as new digital technologies emerge, and our social and work lives evolve. In addition, the 2019-20 bushfires and Coronavirus pandemic have illustrated how unanticipated events can shift the pace and shape of everyday life. Yolande will share insights from the Digital Energy Futures project, which aims to understand and forecast changing digital lifestyle trends and their impact on future household electricity demand.

Meet The Speakers

Dr David Bergmann - Research and Development Manager, South East Water

Dr David Bergmann is Research and Development Manager with South East Water, a water utility in Victoria. David has a PhD in Chemistry and has worked in a diverse range of organisations and industries – with extensive experience in product development in highly commercial environments from chemicals to detergents, food and now water and wastewater.

David has led teams to deliver major business transformations, cost improvements and new product launches. David also works with major universities, manages South East Water's Intellectual Property portfolio and works extensively with its commercial subsidiary Iota to bring innovations to a broader market.

David has led the technical deliverables of Aquarevo, a partnership between South East Water and Villawood Properties, and his interests include alternative water, resource recovery, solar energy options and development of digital systems.

Yolande Strengers - Associate Professor of Digital Technology and Society, Monash University

Yolande is Associate Professor of Digital Technology and Society in the Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University. She is a digital sociologist and human-computer interaction scholar investigating the sustainability and gender effects of digital, emerging and smart technologies.

In the Emerging Technologies Research Lab, she leads the energy futures research program, which undertakes critical interdisciplinary and international research into the social, cultural and experiential dimensions of the design, use and futures of new and emerging technologies.

Her research is applied in focus and has involved a range of research partners to inform current visions, designs, platforms and policies for emerging technologies in the energy, sustainability and smart home sectors.

Bruce Hansen - Group Manager Gas Networks, Evoenergy

Bruce Hansen is Evoenergy’s Group Manager, Gas Networks. He is a senior leader in the energy industry with over 38 years’ experience across gas networks, gas transmission pipelines and electricity networks in technical and leadership roles, working with Zinfra and Jemena. He has expert knowledge of all aspects of gas distribution and has managed the ACT and Queanbeyan gas distribution network for the last 17 years.

Bruce’s technical background has been in instrumentation, measurement and testing across both the electricity and gas sectors, which evolved into quality, safety, environmental and technology management. This broad base of technical management led to construction and project management, and Bruce has delivered significant capital projects as both project manager and project director throughout the ACT and regional NSW.

He has led a significant workforce delivering gas distribution services to the ACT region and also significant commercial change initiatives in Sydney and Illawarra related to delivery of gas distribution services

Charlie Richardson, Utilities Lead in Australia and New Zealand, Accenture

Charlie is a managing director based in Melbourne and leads Accenture’s Utilities practice for the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. This practice, which includes over 1,000 individuals, covers all elements of the customer experience across the entirety of the gas, water and electric retail value chain. 

He’s spent the better part of two decades fixated on how customers interact with companies across the telecommunications, software/hardware, energy and utility industries. He’s worked with clients across Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australia, but has been unable to shake his terrible Oklahoma accent. 

His current obsessions are the convergence of storage, transportation, energy, AI and automation and converting his girlfriend’s 2005 Subaru to be fully electric. He spends most of his days making unreasonable demands of Amazon’s Alexa and (prior to the pandemic) re-imagining the customer journey at his local café. 

Renae Sambrooks, Virtual Power Plants & Orchestration, Synergy

Renae Sambrooks is a commercially-focused leader with an outstanding record of developing innovation programs that lead to positive outcomes such as income generation, sustainability and cultural change. Highlights include:

  • 2019 Clean Energy Council Marketing & Communications Award
  • 2019 Clean Energy Council Innovation Finalist
  • 2019 Property Council Australia Innovation & Excellence “Australia’s Favourite Project” 

Her previous role as General Manager Energy and Commercial saw her responsible for the development and delivery of Vicinity Centres Australia’s largest retail renewable energy investment, featuring a $73 million solar and battery program.  

Renae leads Synergy’s commercialisation of Virtual Power Plants and orchestration of distributed energy resources.