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Call it a virtuous cycle: Improving customer service for utility customers by focusing on operational excellence, delivered through evolving and streamlining operations, based on continuous digital platform insights.


That’s one of the key messages Smart Energy Water (SEW) CEO Deepak Garg has for the utility industry, which his company serves with stunning success. SEW serves more than 350 electric and water utilities in 24 countries, which in turn serve hundreds of millions of end customers. SEW is aiming for growth to put them at 3 billion end customers by 2024, Garg says.


A key vehicle for such growth is SAP’s industry cloud solution extension, SAP Self-Service Accelerator for Utilities by SEW. While the solution’s primary aim is to streamline and simplify the end-customer experience while providing real-time insights to those customers, SAP Self-Service Accelerator for Utilities integrates end-to-end with SAP’s enterprise software, running at about 70% of utilities around the world.


SAP Self-Service Accelerator for Utilities owes its skyrocketing success to several factors, Garg says. One is that the solution has been referred to as “the Amazon or Uber of the utilities industry” for good reason. That’s not only due to SEW’s development of Google Play and Apple Store mobile apps enjoying the Amazon- and Uber-class usability. For example, it takes just seconds to set up electricity service using SAP Self-Service Accelerator for Utilities.


“With every transaction, a customer expects its utility to deliver on a native mobile app, on the web, on an IVR or chatbot – every channel that can be supported is supported by SEW and SAP,” Garg says.


It’s also about deep integration with SAP and extensive consideration of how utilities operate and interact with their customers, Garg says.


“We cover every use case,” he says. “The day you go live as a part of our platform, the utility starts getting 2x, 3x, 4x, and 10x returns, because we are taking away every manual process. We’re taking away every manual interaction with the customer. We are taking away all the bad integration – or no integration – with enterprise systems or third-party systems and providing one single platform. So you can have the truth in front of you. You can orchestrate.”


Fine-tuned orchestration between demand and supply is indispensable in the increasing balancing act of improving sustainability in the face of climate change, even while maintaining service reliability amid the electrification of the vehicle fleet and the renewable-energy transition, he says.


The SAP Self-Service Accelerator for Utilities helps address these challenges on two fronts. Customers gain real-time insights into their electricity and water usage, providing clarity as to how to trim consumption and how to shift high-demand, high-cost activities such as electric-vehicle charging to off-peak times. Utilities can then use an enhanced understanding of customer behavior to address grid management, Garg says.

“Utilities love that, because now they can have micro-level connectivity, micro-level intelligence, which they can translate into great profit – and pass that back to the customer,” Garg says.