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The SAP for Utilities conference team came to Newtown Square yesterday, bringing Utilities peers together for an interactive discussion on the biggest challenges, trends and opportunities utilities are facing today.  This was my second time attending, as I attended first back in 2016.

Led by IBM, this half-day event was an opportunity to collaborate with other industry professionals on common pain points and solutions within today’s landscape.

8:00 AM: Breakfast, coffee and informal networking
8:30 AM: Conversation led by you, facilitated by an industry expert
12:00 PM: Lunch and networking
1:00 PM: Session concludes

This research discussion is part of Eventful Conference's blueprint for the 2018 SAP for Utilities conference.

Jen Mellace, Eventful, said this was the 11th year for SAP for Utilities conference in North America. She said part of their research is to understand what customers want to learn about, things want to hear. She said this is made easy by the fact that utilities aren't competitive with each other.

We started out by introducing ourselves, who, where from, and a fun fact about ourselves.

IBM lead the roundtable / discussion

First we split up into 4 groups to discuss 5-10 pain points our utilities are facing

Group One

Group one discussed the following topics:

  • Front office replacement; CIC0 is deprecated is in S/4HANA. Options? Hybris, C4C, CRM embedded S/4HANA?

  • Customer enablement / customer centric - getting data to the customer; we use multi channel, some customers felt this was a too expensive option; getting customer to paperless

  • Analytics - BW/4HANA for Utilities content exists, how can we get there?
    SAP Analytics Cloud - predictive aspects

  • Operational Data/Enterprise Data
    - master data management

  • GIS integration
    - change management
    - "3 required fields to create a notification" - Loudoun Water presentation from last week's ASUG Virginia Chapter meeting
    - Alliander demo from an ASUG webcast


Group Two

Group two discussed the following:

  • Culture and process change with new implementation
    - slow to adoption

  • S/4HANA Roadmap Definition + data analytics
    - peripheral impact (GRC, Leonardo)
    - should we do something in next 1-2 years to have it ripped out?
    - what should we do?
    Data Analytics Self Service - great data captured, how normalize data, how choose and use the correct products to empower the user
    Data Warehousing options, pros and cons

  • Getting the most out of standard functionality
    - SQXX

  • S/4HANA Business Case
    - treasury, consolidation, BPC - replace Hyperion
    - business case for S/4HANA Utilities period
    - backlog of quandary - invest in bots, cognitive thinking, intelligence, where make additional investment

  • Net New/Greenfield

  • Peripheral - GRC, SucessFactors, Leonardo, Ariba


Group Three

Bad Debt Expense - metrics

BPEM Case Management - BDex to implement
Replication - CRM to backend
Debugging application issue

Data integration

Multichannel foundation

Deployment - agile, minimal viable product and waterfall

Group Four

Group four discussed the following items:

  • Meter procurement process - best practice? Purchase to retirement, tracking to level

  • Aging workforce - PG&E, Skunkworks; recruit new employees; company loyalty; transient workforce; standardize training (augmented reality with meter); expose work force to emerging technology

  • Culture change and new process

  • Meter data management / AMI (water does not have time of use) - how to manage for water space; no on demand readings for water, remote disconnects

  • Wants vs. needs - standard SAP functionality


IBM suggested getting involved with the ASUG Utilities Community


What we didn't discuss as groups:

  • Security/IoT

  • GDPR for Utilities; applies to European Citizens here

  • Blockchain? No one exploring
    Robotics - no AI

  • One company is doing a robotics pilot, learning sprints - bot needs to understand

  • Other utilities have innovation hubs with bots hands off, RPA

  • Another company is looking into drones for inspections (tower inspections for safety) - hi res, low level images for GIS


Top 10/11 Items we "voted" on:

1. SAP's roadmap for S/4HANA for Utilities

2. Path for S/4HANA - Roadmap - Utilities, peripheral, IS-U
3. Advanced Analytics
4. Data Governance/Stewardship
5. Workforce - retain, store, excite (safety), - reg & safety - certification/qualification
6. Process and change, optimization, digitization
7. Getting the most - leverage the most of what you have - optimize current investment - run sustain
8. Integration systems, GIS, PowerPlan, OMS (outage management)
9. Front office replacement - roadmap - call center direction, (C4C, Hybris)
10. Customer centric
11. IT/OT/data convergence and enablement


Time to vote - what topics are important?

Green means important to my utility, yellow means topic is relevant but not to me, red means not relevant at all.

Looks like SAP's Roadmap has the most "green" circles, with IT convergence /enabling receiving the fewest.

How did we do?  What did we miss?


Getting to Newtown Square wasn't bad, but getting to the building was a different story.  Newtown Square SAP Office is undergoing a Motor Court "renewal".  I was a little confused about where to park.  I tried to go into one entrance but a duck chased me off (I got a good walk in anyway).

I also loved this coffee application on the iPad at Newtown Square:


SAP for Utilities is in October in San Antonio.  Special thanks to Eventful Conference's Jen Mellace - Please see the research report here 
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