Spotlight on... David Sykes, Data Analyst
5th October 2016
I'm chatting to David Sykes, Data Analyst, who crunches the numbers to get at the sweet insights that deliver great value for our customers.
So, David, why did you join Octopus?
Before I came to Octopus I was working as an engineer for a big oil and gas company, but I wanted to work on the more positive side of energy. Somewhere progressive, where they were finding solutions as opposed to dodging problems. I also wanted to get into data science and analytics, and there’s no better place to start than working in an industry which has lots and lots of data. Octopus seemed like a great fit for all these things.
What do you do at Octopus?
I have two main responsibilities. One is analysing the underlying costs in the market then setting a price that reflects the wholesale cost of energy, while also being competitive. The other is general analysis work such as looking at competitor pricing, where our customers are coming from, market changes, and so on.
I optimise all this information and give it context, finding patterns which help us give a better service to our customers. I examine a lot of industry nitty gritty, like usage patterns and costs, and model them so we can better understand and predict future changes. This makes us more cost-effective, which in turn means we can offer better value to our customers.
What makes the pricing at Octopus different to other suppliers?
We've designed our business to have very low operating costs – no large call centres, or people travelling around reading meters – and we try to do everything digitally with the latest technology. We pass these efficiency savings to customers by offering great value prices.
Also, our pricing is fair. Lots of suppliers have large gaps between their fixed deals and Standard Variable Tariff (SVT), but we feel the price of energy should be an honest reflection of the price of energy to us. We don’t go out and play games by dropping prices on one part of our business to subsidise others, nor do we hoodwink the people who don't switch regularly.
What are you working on right now?
I'm always looking for patterns in the industry, especially unfair practices. As a company that prides itself on fairness, part of our job is shining a light on industry tactics that don't put customers' interests first.
One of the things we found recently was "tease and squeeze" pricing, and we’re looking at breaking other big stories. We also help the media with any questions they have, making sure that the number of tariffs in the market and the structure of those tariffs are clear to customers.
As the energy industry expands and the number of tariffs increases, finding out what’s out there, and making sure we’re offering the best deal for our customers, is really important. We hope our customers stay with us for many years because we believe we’ll do a good job for them. We give long term value, not just in their first year.
What is the best thing about your job?
The freedom and time you get to learn new tools and explore new data. I get to look at pricing, usage, and lots of other interesting things that we can use to give people a better experience. In the future that might be trying to predict how much energy people will use so we can better buy their energy for them, or forecasting how much solar energy we produce so we can keep everything balanced.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Trying to get your head around this incredibly complex industry, particularly at the beginning. Looking at how costs are set up, how people are profiled – and there are so many suppliers that there's huge differences in pricing. Trying to understand the patterns underlying all this variability and get answers quickly can be a real challenge, but I love it!
Any message for those thinking of switching?
There's always a bit of trepidation when switching to a new company, but you'll realise quickly that we’re working towards a sustainable model with customers at the focus. So trust us to do the right thing for you and we'll do everything we can to ensure you're not disappointed.
Any message for those who've already switched?
Don’t be a stranger! Speak to us. In the modern, digital world feedback is incredibly important and can be immediately acted upon. This is a young business and it would be great if our customers could be part of the journey. So, if there's anything you think could be done differently or better, do get in touch and let us know.
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