It’s a tough world for CenterPoint Energy, a company that delivers electricity and gas to 5.5 million customers in Texas. Not only do they have to compete for customers and deliver reliable, economic, compliant, and sustainable products and services safely, but there is disruption everywhere. Consumer behavior is changing, new sources of energy such as wind and solar are emerging, and machines are talking to machines and making decisions without humans.
Gary Hayes, the CIO of the company, believes the way to deal with disruption on such massive scale is through technology convergence. Three types of technology must converge to create an intelligent energy future: consumer technologies for smart devices and social media,information technologies for enabling mobility, big data analysis and cyber security, and a wide range of operational and business technologies. This convergence is at the core of the Internet of Things (IOT) and is driving new strategies, new operational models and a completely different customer experience.
From complexity to simplicity
At CenterPoint, IOT apps built on SAP HCP are transforming information into action so the company can manage the volume, veracity, velocity, and variety of their data. As a result, not only does CenterPoint reduce operational costs and manage its assets and resources more efficiently, consumers are also saving energy and money.
According to Steve Lucas, President, SAP Platform Solutions, the beauty of SAP HCP for the Internet of Things is that customers and partners can now connect anything to any app or business process in their own company or in their business network. “We now have the most comprehensive portfolio of IOT solutions from core business operations to the edge of the network. We offer customers a full stack platform as a service that enables them to sign up and build IOT apps in the Cloud without having to deploy or install anything. Additionally, we provide free access to SAP anywhere.”
Steve is very excited because the new IOT portfolio enables the enterprise from core to edge, allowing them to collect data even when they are disconnected and synchronize it seamlessly when they come back online. This means technology can intercept data when a vending machine is running low, for example, and reroute a truck that has already departed on its preplanned course in real time.
Devices and sensors connect people and machines at the edge of the enterprise, monitoring processes and performance, and sending alerts as needed. The data converges in the Cloud platform, enabling real time analysis and decision making, which in turn allows business models such as product design, responsive manufacturing, and customer experience to be reimagined and reengineered.
“The impact is explosive,” says Steve. “Through our ERP solutions we understand processes and transactions, through Sybase and Business Objects we can structure the social aspect, and finally, we own machine data since we sit in the middle of manufacturing. SAP is driving the convergence of technologies with our IOT portfolio and Industry 4.0.”
Partnerships are crucial
Siemens, the leading company for automation equipment in the industrial space, did a lot of research before choosing an IOT partner. “We chose SAP HCP because it is the most technologically advanced platform and has an open application ecosystem. Furthermore, customers from manufacturing and process industries have specific ideas about where they want to store data. SAP supports both public and private Clouds, giving freedom of choice for data residence,” says Peter Weckesser, CEO of Customer Services at Siemens AG.
SAP and Intel are also collaborating to simplify, secure, and scale the IOT for the enterprise. Intel provides a blueprint for industry-leading, interoperable IOT solutions. SAP is taking the complementary SAP HANA platform in conjunction with the Intel blueprint to simplify IOT end-to-end deployments for enterprises.
From connected buildings and vehicles to connected health, utilities, mines, and retails, every industry is feeling the forces of disruption, and every enterprise, whether large or small, is feeling the pressure to transform. Partnerships like these will help enterprises survive and thrive in this new, fast digital world.