This year on September 10-13, the 10th anniversary for the SAP for Utilities conference was held in Huntington Beach, CA. As a SAP partner, Avertra was a gold sponsor at the conference. Not only were their sunny skies and a beautiful beach, this conference gave utility companies the opportunity to learn about the most innovative technologies to optimize business processes.
What were companies looking for?
Smart technology that is simple to use that will enhance their SAP environment. Back office, customer facing, field service, customer service… all applications need to be simple to use. Utilities have deep roots and their processes have been slow to change so simplistic systems will best help their employees adapt to the changes. Luckily, simplistic technological solutions are surrounding the utility industry right now and a lot of them were at this conference.
To enhance the utility companies SAP environment, the vendors at the conference were showcasing services, innovative technologies, applications and other products that can be customized to suit the utility’s needs. These customized products can optimize efficiency for the utility during any step of their business process and each utility company was there looking for a specific technological solution to solve their process needs. Fortunately, Avertra has an amazing product suite fit for the entire new construction to cash cycle that is able to integrate with SAP, or any current ERP or CIS that the utility may have. Our team of technology and utility experts demonstrated our products (the MiUtility Product Suite as pictured below) and SAP services capabilities to multiple utility companies during the conference. At Avertra simplicity, synergy, and innovation are threaded into everything that we do. We are always working to make processes more efficient and right now we are working on incorporating machine learning, IoT, and bots, all while keeping the look and feel of the application simple.
Utility Professionals gathered at our booth to watch product demos
What were some noticeable trends?
This year some noticeable trends at the conference were; procurement solutions, mobile device management applications, IoT, the cloud and customer journey mapping. Four different utility companies spoke about their implementation of SAP Ariba this year, all satisfied with their shift to cloud procurement solution implementations or their track to implementation. SAP Ariba Procurement is helping utility companies to consolidate their internal and external catalog system. Next, mobile device management applications are being implemented for renewable utilities and non-renewables. Mobilizing your workforce has shown to increase efficiency and employees have shown easy adaptation to the new technology. With the cloud companies can do so much more with less, they are recognizing this and making the shift. IoT has pushed an era to be hyper-connected and SAP is at the forefront of creating IoT business solutions for the utility industry. Lastly, numerous presentations were focused on ways to improve the experience of a customer by taking a step into their shoes and looking at the entire customer journey from starting service all the way to ending service. We saw that utilities are starting to think outside the box and are looking at new emerging technologies (such as MiUtility) that can be leveraged along with their current SAP environment to ultimately create a new sense of customer delightfulness without having to upgrade their current systems and go through lengthy and costly implementations. In today’s market, customers are demanding faster responses and up to date notifications now more than ever and it is vital for utilities to always stay focused on the customer journey.
Looking over this next year…
The rapid advancement in battery and storage technologies, as well as machine learning, are topics to be watching this year as both are developing at an accelerated rate. Also, SAP is developing SAP Asset Intelligence Network which will be “a central hub that serves first as a global register of the equipment in an extended ecosystem”. It is important for utility companies to stay proactive during this time of innovational technological change in order to stay relevant and profitable.
Overall, the SAP for Utilities Conference was a success. As a team we learned what companies are looking for, trends in the industry, where we should be heading, and better ways we can serve the industry. We are already looking forward to our return to the conference as a gold sponsor in 2018.