In late October, SAP released 3 year roadmaps across our Software portfolio, providing customers with excellent insight in to planned innovations.

Given my focus on the Energy & Natural Resources space, I have called out 3 areas of innovation that I think will be particularly important to customers as we pursue digital transformation:

  1. Enablement of S/4HANA Utilities for Large Systems

I recently came across an IS-U table that was 26 billion – yes, billion, with a b – rows long. Not surprisingly, a system that can command tables of this size (I’ve only come across two tables of that size, both in Utilities footprints) is often underpinned by a larger than life database. As an example, your typical Utilities ERP system will be roughly about 1TB, but the Industry Solution can be 8-10x this, in one extreme case, even 20x – although the one I’m thinking of hasn’t been archived since implementation!

As a result, customers running IS-U have been required to do significant preparatory work to shift to S/4HANA as a large, scale-up HANA appliance is not an inexpensive undertaking. More relevantly, for a number of organisations I work with, it forces them to revisit their “cloud-first” strategy as the roadmap for Azure, AWS etc is largely based on highly scalable, smaller node architectures.

Supporting a scale-out architecture by allowing the distribution of tables across different server nodes will allow organisations to adopt their desired flexible architectures and reduce their total cost of ownership. Along with this, clients can expect performance optimisation for their most critical batch processes in the areas of metering and billing.

  1. SAP Hybris Commerce, Utilities Accelerator

Optimising and automating the call centre has been and continues to be a large focus area for utility organisations. Most companies now see themselves moving away from being a traditional, commodity energy supplier to being a value-added services provider in the energy technology market.

Enter the Utilities Accelerator for Hybris Commerce. The planned innovations are focused on delivering packaged content for organisations to enable a smart, guided selling process across different rate plans for gas, electricity and home services. Aligned to this will be the ability to offer cross-sell opportunities for non-consumable and non-energy products such as smart meters and solar panels.

For consumers, this will give them a “one-stop” shop for all their energy needs and for retailers, they will begin to interact with their consumers on the same platform, allowing the organisation to forge connections not previously possible and deliver personal packages based on unique household characteristics. A win-win.

  1. SAP Asset Intelligence Network, Release 2

For those unfamiliar with the SAP Asset Intelligence Network, the most interesting analogy I have heard to describe the functionality was “Facebook for Assets”. Analogy aside, by leveraging the Internet of Things, manufacturers and operators can have a collaboration platform which serves as a global register for of the equipment in the client’s extended asset ecosystem. Operators can access up-to-date maintenance strategies, manuals, and more from manufacturers – and manufacturers can automatically receive asset usage and failure data from operators.

At its most fundamental level, manufacturers benefit from receiving feedback that allows for improvements, in turn boosting customer satisfaction. Operators benefit from complete asset information, tailored services and fewer maintenance issues. This collaboration platform serves as a conduit to transparent asset interaction, improving asset data quality (which is typically poor) and shortening issue response times.

Release 2 will see improved applications (e.g. work history and log books), enhanced content (e.g. equipment and location characteristics – particularly helpful for those far flung assets), and an augmented network and integration capability (e.g. integration with the SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service Solution).

The link to the full document can be found here. I strongly recommend taking a look and reaching out to your SAP representative to have the team come in and walk through some of these key innovations. Digital transformation is more than just a buzz word in the utilities space and SAP is aiming to provide utility organisations the opportunity to build competitive advantages in the brave new energy world.

To view the document requires an S-User login and is only available to current customers and partners. It should be noted that all innovations are planned and do not represent a commitment by SAP to deliver the functionality.

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