Interview with Stefan Engelhardt
Back in July 2019, SAP revealed the new and largest initiative in the Utilities space since the launch of SAP IS-U in 1998, known as SAP Cloud for Utilities (C4U). Its primary objective is to enable our customers to reconceptualize their traditional business models and become utilities of the future. This week I sat down with Stefan Engelhardt, Lead Solution Owner, to better understand why SAP Cloud for Utilities is so important and how our customers can benefit from it.
Alena: First of all, Stefan, how would you describe SAP Cloud for Utilities (C4U)?
Stefan: SAP Cloud for Utilities is SAP’s end-to-end solution portfolio in the public cloud for the Lead-to-Cash process used by digital utilities. The solution architecture has a modular structure, meaning that it consists of a couple of individual cloud solutions, which have been combined as a business suite with a seamless end-to-end experience. The solution portfolio supports all relevant business processes used by utilities– from identifying customers, understanding customers’ behavior and demand, modelling respective products and bringing them to market quickly, producing customer orders and managing the complete billing and collections process. In other words, it is the next generation utilities industry solution in the Public Cloud.
Alena: So, why is C4U so important for our customers?
Stefan: Our customers are currently facing a paradigm shift in their market. The utilities industry is going through a massive transformation process, caused by various factors. One of them is the increasing importance of renewable energy, which is turning the entire market model on its head. This means companies need to revisit their business processes from a different prospective and think about ways of introducing new products to compensate for shrinking margins in their traditional business. In other words, they must think differently and reconceive their entire business strategy. All of this requires a different go-to-market approach and a new generation of IT solutions. The existing solutions were built for the business model, that has become outdated over the last 10 years. The world has changed, and the market now operates in a completely different way. That is why utilities require new types of software. And SAP C4U provides the solution to exactly this issue. Utilities companies are no longer simply selling energy – they need to focus on expanding their service to remain successful. Hence they are combining commodity services with value-added services, bundling them as highly complex product concepts and selling them to their customers on an individual basis. And this is a completely different way of operating in the utilities market. We believe that the future of utilities in competitive markets will depend mainly on their capability to leverage the enormous growth potential of highly customer-focused non-commodity services – without neglecting the quality of their legacy business. In other words, Utilities must re-invent themselves without forgetting their roots – and SAP C4U is the IT platform that addresses precisely this challenge.
Alena: So, what do you think are the key benefits that C4U provides to our customers?
Stefan: Our customers benefit from having a platform, which enables business users to define and develop new products easily, bundle them into new offerings and bring them to the market quickly. At the same time, we also support the financial transaction process as a whole, which must be scalable and auditable with the same quality standards as today’s on premise solutions.
Our main objective however is to catalyze business innovation by supporting our customers to address their end customers with the right digital products at the right time.
Alena: Finally, do you think that C4U can help utilities companies become more energy efficient?
Stefan: Yes, because C4U will enable utilities companies to offer next generation products that will help save energy. For example, companies can use demand-response products to convert the demands from end-customers into products and offer tariff structures that will support the optimization of their consumption behavior. At the end of the day, this will help optimize energy resources and reduce emissions.