Elon Musk, IoT, and industry disruption were all topics that brought executives together from around the country to brave Houston’s hottest day of the year at the annual ASUG Southwest Utilities Days conference. The event brings together utility professionals from several different fields, including electric, gas, and water utilities, as well as competitive energy retailers.
CenterPoint Energy graciously hosted the two-day event at their headquarters in Houston. CenterPoint executives Bill Rogers (EVP & CFO) and Gary Hayes (SVP & CIO) kicked off the meeting by providing a message for today’s utilities on the current environment – discussing how data and analytics are fueling growth for their enterprise and transforming their mentality from being a transactional type of business to a more “thinking and analytical” organization.
Bill Rogers also addressed challenges his organization faces around the usability for certain SAP products. Reliant went on to present how they leveraged UI5 to implement a more user-friendly SAP solution for their call center in the breakout session, “Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Redesign It!”
SAP executives Lloyd Adams and Henry Bailey delivered the keynote address, which covered industry trends and SAP’s Utilities Roadmap – discussing HANA, S4, and other disruptive technologies, including an IoT sensor that uses real-time motion data to determine if a field worker may have experienced an accident or fall, which was humbly demonstrated by Utegration’s very own, David Head.
Breakout sessions were presented by both client partners and solution providers, helping to share lessons learned from successful SAP implementations, along with new products in the development pipeline. Terry Coots spoke about how TXU became one of the first adopters of SAP’s Hybris Marketing solution, which is helping their organization extend the customer relationship to deliver adjunct products and services such as web-controlled thermostats.
Carol Stimmel from Manifest Minds delivered the closing keynote, covering advanced technologies that are disrupting the traditional service business model – and what we can learn from Germany and off-grid countries such as Nepal.
The conference concluded with a Town Hall on disruption, which featured Gary Hayes from CenterPoint Energy, Henry Bailey from SAP, Ravi Malick from TXU Energy, and Grant Gutierrez from Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. The panel discussed a recent survey by Zpryme Research, which asked audiences to identify the top three disruptive technologies facing the industry today. The top responses:
- 67% Energy Storage
- 47% Internet of Things (IoT)
- 34% Microgrids
- 31% Analytics
While the panel agreed that companies can leverage data and analytics to solve many key operational challenges utilities are set to face in the coming years – the jury was out as to whether the biggest disruptor to the industry may not be a technology at all, but rather the work of one person: Elon Musk.