We do have provided Innovation during the last ten years at the utilities industry: what is now different?; why do we talk so much about it?; is this just marketing? . I think that the difference is about speed, and I am not pointing to technical performance issues but on how quicken new features are adopted by companies and the capabilities we develop to help into this fast adoption.
I think we know about pioneering new applications and quick delivery at SAP. An example: some years ago it was prioritized the development of a new and disruptive application component for handling energy data profiles, later called “Energy Data Management” (EDM) which, years later, would become the foundation of the integration of our CIS application with the Smartmerters among other functions like Real Time Pricing or Energy Settlement processes. Why I use the word “prioritize”? These days I attended discussions in Walldorf where some major needed features on the device management application component were postponed to accommodate the EDM development. Some argumentations were very passionate supporting the urgent development of things like new validation methods while from the other side if was provided the following vision: “in the future, all consumers’ energy data will be handled on profiles by electronic meters”. That was ten years ago, when the market only requested functions for analogical meters, not innovative solutions based on smartmeters. Another example for quick delivery: ten years ago we were providing upgrades of our utilities solution on six month basis, and this process was for several years.
Looking at current application creation processes my belief is that the receipt to initiate new things has not changed so far: a combination of passion, intense networking, internal sponsorship, industry experience, capabilities to discuss new processes, close co-innovation with customers and partners as well as a key technology ingredient delivering reliable, scalable and standardized applications and procedures. However there is something new, a new ingredient to add at this formula: the capability of each new deliverable to be safely and quick adopted by the final user, this is the “packetization” of the product. My belief is that Smartgrid Analytics is a current example on how we are bringing new features for the utilities industry: this is a product oriented to envision processes and technologies for the next decades in order to support the management of SmartGrids. It contains all the intelectual and technological elements just mentioned plus an ongoing effort to bundle some of the business scenarios into Rapid Deployement Solutons (SAP RDS), like Grid Infrastructure Analytics which is focused to Transformer analysis.
Is really the market demanding this adoption rush?
I think so. Last April, at the EMEA SAP Conference for Utilities 2012 which took place at Madrid, Mr. Pan Minghui, CIO of Liaoning Electric Power Company from the State Grid Corporation of China presented how they are adopting SAP portfolio for Asset Management Optimization Strategies with Analytics. The presentation was impressive. Such intensive and fast IT transformation of the company and the huge positive results achieved shows the benefits of the appetite for innovation.
As going through the slides of the presentation, showing a large sequence of projects in a masterplan designed to increase sophistication and benefits I see the paradigma of what is currently innovation both for utility companies and application / technology suppliers like us, a constant purse of the “what’s next”?