Interview Series: Jimmy Leong, Director of Customer Engagement (CE) & User Experience (UX)

Next up in our practice director interview series is Jimmy Leong, Director of Customer Engagement (CE) & User Experience (UX). As always, you can check out our main blog page to more other practice director interviews and other interesting posts!

How long have you been at Utegration, and how did you first get involved with the company?

I’ve been in the SAP ecosystem since I started my career; I spent my earlier years at HCL-Axon and Xerox (FKA, ACS Inc.) across multiple industries such as SAP HR, Aerospace & Defense, and Utilities.

I was first introduced to Utegration President & CEO Bin Yu by an acquaintance during a client engagement in Texas. We had a very informal yet insightful conversation about my role, vision and opportunities within the company, everything then took off from there… it has been over 6 years now and counting!

How many individuals are on your team?

We are 15 strong in the US and with the team from our Global Delivery Center (GDC) in Bangalore, India that aligns with the overall practice (Customer Engagement & User Experience) on business development, consulting capabilities and strategic focus.

Can you explain in simple terms what Customer Engagement and User Experience means? What does it mean to the utility industry?

The era of digital transformation has evolved tremendously in the past few years, especially for a majority of our customers in the Utilities industry. This phenomenon is no coincidence; this topic merits a discussion entirely of its own, on how it impacts the entire Utility ecosystem from demographics, economies of scale, data & security and most importantly, analytics. These factors have direct influence on the overall Customer Experience (CX) within the organization and its interaction with customers.

Are there any current challenges you can identify for your practice area? For example, how have technological changes in recent years such as the digitization of data, cloud computing, etc. affected your practice area?

I am a true believer of creating solutions (value) around need rather than forcing a specific need to a solution. With that said, I would go back to understanding the challenges in the industry and then capitalizing on the opportunities they present.

Demographics: Utilities today are anticipating a wave of aging workforce members, and there needs to be a strategy and plan in place for (business continuity, succession plan, etc.) when the baby boomers retire. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2030, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials; this hyper-connected, tech-savvy generation will not operate in the same way as the baby boomers and will dramatically change the way organizations work.

There is a perception from millennials that the utilities business generally lacks the flare and hype of the startups in Silicon Valley. This generation is constantly seeking a sense of purpose; at the same time, they want to know how their job is helping them to get to the top.

Economies of Scale: In the wake of the technological disruptions that will certainly shape the path to a digital economy, utilities are investing heavily in digital business. The acceleration of the industry’s transformation is forcing utilities to re-evaluate their infrastructure agility and business strategies on how to optimize profitability, operational efficiency, customer satisfaction and loyalty by implementing customer-centric processes.

“Cloud” has been a buzzword in recent years; utilities traditionally shunned cloud solutions due to concerns from data, security to CapEx vs. OpEx. These have always been the major points of contention in the past… things have changed and change is moving rapidly!

How Utegration can help: Providing value map assessment and working as a trusted advisor to our customers on strategic roadmap and minimize disruption to the business. Utegration is currently engaged in a Hybris Cloud for Customer and Hybris Billing implementation. There is also a constant need to help our customers realize the full potential of their SAP investments, and other cloud offerings in Cloud Platform (CP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

What are some of the industry trends you see affecting your practice area?  As far as user experience, is there a certain set of standards (for design, data gathering, etc.) being used across utility companies today?

According to Gartner, CEOs expect by 2020, 46% of the customer-perceived value proposition of their products and services will be digital.

Trends to look out for specifically impacting my area would be cloud computing, IoT, and conversational systems (cognitive computing). The user experience and technological advancements are rapidly evolving and it demands our consultants to be disciplined and the aptitude to adapt to the market demands.

Diagram: Gartner - The Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017

Diagram: Gartner - The Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017

Utilities will be looking to us to guide them through transforming the traditional mindset as they make advancement towards enhanced customer experience (design principles), open development toolset (microservices), and the agility for innovation (Bi-Modal IT).

What is your long-term goal/vision for your practice area?

My goal is to always stay focused in our core values to support the vision and mission of the company. Opportunities and demands will change over time; however we cannot lose sight of our identity which evolves around people, innovation, quality, relationship and integrity.