By Mika Manner, XStreamReports/XSR Sweden.
I had the pleasure of recently attending the 10th SAP for Utilities Conference in beautiful Huntington Beach, California at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. With more than 1000 attendees this was a great chance to meet customers, IT professionals and see where the future for SAP CCM in the utility industry lies. In addition to great industry networking and insights, it was an excellent location and service adding to a great overall experience.
I was also interested in getting some insights on project planning and this event was a perfect place for that. There were a lot of interesting presentations and insights to walk away with, and here are a few highlights to share:
What is going on and what to expect?
When attending presentations, the data analytics and business intelligence efficiency theme was apparent. The need for information to be provided in real-time is crucial for both companies and for its’ customers. Some of the main issues that came up hindering this was slow transfer of data and lack of multi-channel information options. Like in the case of Oklahoma Gas and Energy, Puget Sound Energy and DTE Energy, a lot of the information flow was restricted to a few options, mostly using callcenter, but also mail to communicate with the customers. During major outages this would lead to very long waiting in phonequeues and because of that cause a lot of irritation for the customers. This had an impact not only on their customers experience and as such customer relations, but also on the maintenance plans for these companies.
A good example on how to improve the information flow speed was shared by E-ON, where they installed a cloud based solution in Microsoft Azure coupled with using SAP HANA as their data platform. Then implement multiple output channels for mobile, tablet and a web-portal services to get real time information distrusted. This allowed them to go from having a system response time from 10-600 seconds to less than 5 seconds. Replication of data load between SAP BW and SAP HANA is now done in real time, resulting in 1 minute compared to the previous 24 hours – huge improvements!
We are going to see more and more solutions going over to be cloud based, if not fully then partly, and thus have a huge impact on both efficiency and cost reduction. Multi-channel options for self-service will be a norm in the future and already it’s apparent it is expected by customers.
We at XStreamReports are very familiar with this, creating multi-channel solutions using StreamServe/OpenText technology, like the new Exstream product, to achieve document presentment both internally and externally. By doing so we maximize our clients investment and utilization of their software to provide their customers with an outstanding Customer Experience.
Project management ideas
A key factor in a successful project and implementation is keeping everyone involved informed. Everyone involved does not only mean the key persons working on the project, but also employees/users that will use the system as well. Having seen projects where users have almost been forced to work with a new system is not beneficial to anyone. I’ve seen cases where employees have resigned due to this. Involvement and training are key factors for a successful project. This was showcased in a presentation where Accenture worked with DTE Energy where they also brought in extra staff to cope with the system transition, proving essential.
Doing a thorough analysis of the project, avoiding scope creep and not being afraid to postpone parts of project that are not vital for the Go-Live are other valuable thoughts to remember to keep in mind for long-term success.
Micro-grids vs Macro-grids
With the devastating events of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the topic of how to handle major power outages was a timely topic and utility companies are working hard to find ways to minimize impact on its’ customers in such events. Solutions were presented involved the use of micro-grids instead of todays’ macro-grids to make power delivery more reliable. The solution basically is to use a self-sustainable power plant that is using solar panels. So if there is a major power outage on the normal grid it will ensure power to the customers within that grid.
Fireside with President G W Bush
One of the most attended and interesting events was the fireside talk with President George W Bush. It was a very entertaining insight on his life as the President, and life after. He shared stories about his family and insights in to politics. He had a way to express himself that brought an audience to laughter with words like “Misunderestimate me” or “Nucularenergy”. He told us that meeting other high ranked politicians was like going to a school reunion. Not a lot of fun. Also that his daughter had not agreed with him on running for President by saying “OK, go ahead and ruin my life”.
In short this was a great conference with many fantastic people.