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The SAP Utilities community came together for the biggest conference of the year last week, and it was an industry star-studded spectacle that did not disappoint! A key highlight of the 2015 event was none other than the 2015 SAP Excellence in Utilities awards program where 8 winners were voted for by the community  and recognized for their incredible work and contribution across their organizations and communities over the course of the last year.

Together with our friends from The Eventful Group, SAP’s General Manager of Energy and Natural Resources, Peter Maier, Head of SAP’s Industry Business Unit for Utilities, Henry Bailey, and I led the event’s festivities, which were held at Huntington Beach’s Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa.  This year’s awards were all about the industry, the communities they serve, and our partners who round out the ecosystem of innovation and support for our growing energy sector.

Check out this short video:

THE IMMENSE VISION FOUND IN SNOHOMISH COUNTY

The first award announced at the conference was a newly designed category for 2015, to recognize the industry’s Visionary Leader, which went to Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD). Recognized as the second largest utility in the state of Washington, Snohomish County PUD, recently became one of the first global customers to consolidate several SAP solutions – all on premise – using the SAP Business Suite powered by the SAP HANA platform. CIO, Benjamin Beberness, accepted the award on behalf of the utility. Beberness also hosted an onsite customer roundtable where he discussed the reasons for the consolidation to a single platform and how this is allowing SnoPUD to gain a more sophisticated view of its assets through their recent go-live project, and how the journey has better equipped Snohomish County PUD to improve operational efficiency and deliver safe, reliable, and cost-effective services to its customers.

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CONSUMING ALL THAT IS CONSUMERS ENERGY AND THE CONCEPT OF UTILITY VERSION 3.0


Taking the stage for the first time to represent all that embodies the definition of a Utility of the Year
, was Consumers Energy’s newly appointed CIO, Brian Rich. Brian delivered one of the best keynotes we’ve ever had on stage at the SAP for Utilities conference entitled ” The EXACT Same Thing, Only Faster!…an optimist’s view of our industry’s future,” where he discussed the evolution of Consumers Energy from version 1.0 to now 3.0. It’s through this new age view on the industry that Brian has successfully led his utility to challenge existing boundaries, analyze and take proactive and definitive steps to prepare for unforeseen changes in the dynamic market, and seek new ways to define business processes, making Consumers Energy the unequivocal 2015 Utility of the Year. We can’t commend Brian and his team enough for their unprecedented transformation!

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Before day two of the conference came to an end, we had three of the most widely known utilities awarded and couldn’t wait to honor Puget Sound Energy, Pepco Holdings Inc., Xcel Energy respectively.


A NATURAL PIONEER UTILITY IN PUGET SOUND ENERGY

When Puget Sound Energy (PSE) laid out the strategic initiatives for the company, it was a tall order for both business and IT alike.  Three of these initiatives were:

    1. Significantly increase customer satisfaction.
    2. Financial Excellence
    3. Operational Excellence

As a result, PSE, already heavily invested in technology, has embarked on perhaps one of most ambitious business and technology programs in the country – and has strategically partnered with SAP to ensure that the proposed innovations make PSE best-in-class in the Utility industry and were awarded Pioneer Utility for 2015 at the conference.

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To accomplish the goal of Financial Excellence, PSE has commenced their Financial Transparency and Improvement Program (FTIP).  This program fundamentally changes the way the company’s accounting, costing and planning processes work. Already in the Blueprint phase, PSE is implementing Simple Finance, Fiori, Suite on HANA, CRM on HANA, and BW on HANA to support BPC and other applications, making PSE truly a pioneer in this financial excellence initiative. The pioneered spirit doesn’t stop there as PSE is also starting to analyze an Operational Excellence initiative which will bring together HANA, Geospatial, EAM, Scheduling, Multichannel, and is considering Linear Asset Management for enhancement and overhaul of PSE’s operational processes.


Perhaps the most pioneering plans have been laid out in the customer service area. PSE plans a Customer 360 view where ALL customer information – entered and kept anywhere in the organization – will be available to ALL employees working with the customer. To accomplish this, PSE is not looking at other Utilities but rather has gone to other industries like Retail that use technology to enhance customer service.  Such major transformation requires collaboration among the business users, IT and vendors.  PSE’s relationship with SAP – both licenses and services – has been a pioneering model in itself where parties come together to find a solution with great transparency.


PEPCO HOLDINGS INC. NEEDS TO GET A BIGGER TROPHY CASE – CS WEEK 2015 CIS IMPLEMENTATION OF THE YEAR and now SAP’S BETTER BUSINESS RESULTS AWARD WINNER


Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI) is one of the largest energy delivery companies in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving over 2 million electric and gas customers.  PHI embarked on a 3-year project to consolidate two 30+ year old legacy CIS systems into one new SAP CRM&B solution. The new solutions went live in January 2015 and PHI received the CS Week Expanding Excellence Award for the Best CIS Implementation of the Year in the utilities industry. The results that the utility have experienced thus far since the go-live are record breaking. It’s no telling what this utility will accomplish as the evolution of the customer experience continues to change. One thing we know to be certain, PHI will be ready and will have Better Business Results to back up future initiatives.


XCEL ENERGY: PRODUCTIVITY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY


Xcel Energy started exploring financial suite options in 2012 and will implement SAP at yearend 2015 and WAM modules 2016-2017. SAP clearly met our enterprise requirements better than any other partner maximizing the value of our transformation effort. While at the beginning of the transformative project, Xcel expects to realize more than $230M in annual cost savings once fully deployed. This is in addition to a multitude of other non-financial benefits. 

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As a next step in their journey with SAP, Xcel Energy will look to complete the financial suite deployment and continue with detailed design of our WAM wave. We are extremely proud to honor Xcel Energy with the Utility Transformation award for 2015.


UTILITIES WITH A PURPOSE


New to the program this year was the highly acclaimed award for a Utility with a Purpose, also known as the Humanitarian award. While this award was not recognized on stage in Huntington Beach, it is one of the most prestigious awards that we are honored to hand out this year. Human generosity remains one of the purest forms of integrity, and is something that the SAP for Utilities team maintains as critically important with all those we have the opportunity to do business with. So it’s no surprise that many of our community members and leaders helped design an award focused on this topic.


This purposeful award was created to emphasize the significance human touch still has in our industry today and more importantly, to recognize outstanding organizations who dedicate their time in providing for the under privileged communities they serve, and whose accomplishments are consistent with the goals of SAP’s core foundation of creating better lives. Two utilities were nominated by their internal account teams, and an outpouring of votes for both of the below stories came in from colleagues, friends, partners and peers to both San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and DTE Energy. Each project was so impactful on the local communities that SAP is excited to announce that both utilities are our Humanitarian Award recipients for 2015! SAP will be making a donation to each of the projects in the coming weeks to show our complete gratitude for the dedication these organizations have to bettering the lives around them.


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WINNING HUMANITARIAN PROJECT: DTE Energy Keeps Detroit Warm with 700 Volunteers


6,000 homebound seniors in Wayne County received a warm holiday dinner through the work of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and the DTE Energy Foundation, who donated $30,000 in December 2014.


Additionally, through the support of DTE Energy and its 700 volunteers, each senior received a cozy, warm, red fleece blanked. DTE continues to prove they are more than a utility company. They are a Utility with a Purpose.


WINNING HUMANITARIAN PROJECT: From Dusk to Dawn with San Diego Gas and Electric

SDG&E has a number of the long standing efforts the utility has put in place to strive for better, safer, more vibrant communities. In particular, San Diego Gas and Electric’s Dusk to Dawn program supports over 7,000 streetlights funded by residents to help support gaps across underprivileged neighborhoods. The choice SDG&E gives to its local residents to help support city wide safety is inspiring. This is just one characteristic that supports the nomination for Utility with a Purpose. 

THE FINISH WITH A BANG…PARTNER OF THE YEAR:

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Utegration has quickly risen to its current position as an industry leader based on talented people, unique innovation, and top quality results. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in several “first” implementations across a number of utilities including successful projects around: ALA, Mobiliser/UCE, BW on HANA, CRM on SAP HANA, and SAP Multi-channel Foundation.

When the utilities community expressed a desire for regional SAP utility events, Utegration took action. Four years ago, Utegration, CenterPoint Energy, and ASUG joined forces to organize the Southwest Utilities Day event series. The purpose of the event was to facilitate networking, collaboration, and further innovative thinking within the Utilities and Energy client/customer community. The regional nature of this event provided an expanded level of accessibility and affordability to grow the community. Four annual events later, the Southwest Utilities Days event has become an increasingly bigger success each year with the 2015 event yielding a client organization involvement of over 20 utility/energy organizations and significant representation from the SAP Utilities team itself. 

Continuing on this success, in 2015, Utegration, along with MUD, LES and NPPD, spearheaded the first ever Midwest Utility Day event in Omaha, NE, drawing over 120 attendees. This event included over a dozen speakers and a CIO panel. Utegration also sponsored the second annual Southeast Utility Day event in Nashville, TN, with Henry Bailey, Global Vice President of SAP Utilities, as the keynote speaker. These events have yielded similar early levels of success and positive impact on the Utilities and Energy client/customer community. The combination of these three events brought together over 400 SAP Utility community participants. For these reasons and so many more, SAP couldn’t be happier to honor the team at Utegration as our Partner of the Year for 2015. Congrats!

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And the rest, as they say, is history! Please help me by congratulating our winners and all of our 2015 Excellence in Utilities nominees. Look for announcement in the next few weeks on both the location and new date for SAP for Utilities Conference in the Fall of 2016. We hope to see you again next year!


PHOTOS: See all of this year’s winners at the 2015 SAP Excellence in Utilities Awards!


 
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