The Power of Change at Utility Week
There was a genuine buzz of excitement at Australian Utility Week at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Leaders of utility bodies recognise that their industry is at a tipping point: Digital transformation is essential, not optional, and those who fail to embrace it put their business at risk. The exciting part is that there are so many well-tested services and platforms available now, and immense opportunities to improve both customer experience and business processes. The conference wrapped on Thursday and delegates left newly inspired about the possibilities in this era of great change.
Tips for Transformation
Andrew Bettenay CIO of Endeavour Energy told the conference in his keynote, Building the Agile Utility with real-time responsiveness, that when he joined the company last year when it had just been sold, the new owners of the key NSW utility energy distributor had identified that there had been a significant under-investment in technology over the past decade. And yet even though he was brought in to “enact change from a technology perspective”, he was told on his first day last September, “We’re a very conservative engineering-based organisation … and we don’t want new technology, we want proven technology…”.
Andrew shared some of his tips on how he’s leading Endeavour on its digital transformation. “You have to be prepared to change the business … the platforms that are out there [have] best practice built in … you now can start talking about the holy grail of changing the business to suit the technology,” he told the conference. He also urged people to “challenge accepted norms … the mantra we adopted when we started going through our design phase was ‘if not, why not?’, instead of ‘this is the way we do it here’.”
Some points that particularly resonated with me were the importance of having buy-in from the executive group at the outset, and of quick wins. “When you’re on a big transformation journey of a couple of years plus, to keep the company excited make sure you put some quick, visible wins in place.” It was terrific to hear Andrew’s honest and instructive keynote.
Here are a few of my other key takeaways from Australian Utility Week.
- Digital transformation and emerging cloud-based business models.
Many of the presentations covered industry issues in how to achieve tactical agility, starting with small seed-and-grow implementations that feed into larger strategic programs. Sqware Peg methodology typically adopts this approach to implement strategic platforms such as Salesforce, which allows for lowered barriers of entry and initial commercial risk for smaller projects.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
The 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us with streams of data flowing and creating multiple opportunities to improve services, but systems must be in place to take advantage of it.
- The Age of the Customer
Consumers rightly expect greater visibility of their services, and companies can provide this and improve their own view of customer behaviour, aided by AI (artificial intelligence), which is bringing previously unimagined precision to predictive analytics. Sqware Peg implements Customer Centric CRM applications and Einstein Analytics to guarantee customer-centric outcomes.
- Aptumo powered by Echo Managed Services
This new product enables Contract Service Management, Billing and Billing Calculations on a single platform, further extending the reach of Salesforce to support wider end-to-end business process.
There was a lot of discussion about how to build a robust digital culture from the top down, with practical ideas such as running hackathons and developing a Centre of Excellence for CRM.
- Customer integration
With digital at the heart of everything, customer-facing online portals are making it easier than ever to improve consumer knowledge and satisfaction and drive staff efficiencies, too.