Business Process Insight

Improved analytics and Big Data Insight for SAP customers

SAP for Utilities and the Digital Lemur

Reduce exceptions in SAP CR&B

I have recently returned from the 8th annual SAP for Utilities conference for North America; held this year in beautiful Huntington Beach, California.

This was my 4th year in attendance and as always it was the ideal opportunity for the SAP for Utilities ecosystem to meet and discuss the key topics, market trends and technical developments affecting the industry.

Key themes throughout the conference were digital disruption and the Digital Utility. Digital disruption is the impact that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing businesses.

As I mentioned in my recent webinar, the modern consumer is connected from the time they wake up to the moment they fall asleep. Driven by their experiences with innovative companies like Amazon, Netflix and Uber, not only do they expect to interact with Utilities through multiple channels, they also want their experiences to be customized to reflect their own preferences.

With the balance of power increasingly shifting towards the consumer, Utilities have to find a way to increase levels of customer service and satisfaction.

Utility 2.0 needs to have cohesion across all of the customer journeys, across all channels, underpinned by a strong digital core.

As we heard from SAP America President Jennifer Morgan’s opening keynote, the pace of technology adoption is rapidly advancing. Utilities should not fear disruption, they should embrace it and even create their own.

It’s not going to go away, or shift down a gear. The astonishing pace of disruption opens up countless opportunities for innovation.

“Change today has never happened this fast...ever...and it will never happen this slowly again”. Jennifer Morgan, SAP North America President.

In the Age of the customer it's all about how fast you can respond

In the day one closing keynote, JD Power’s Jeff Conklin outlined the four drivers of high performance brands: Eradicate problems, anywhere/anytime, communicate to engage and personalize interactions.

On the subject of anywhere/anytime, he stated that utilities need to ‘Get Ready to Chat’, a message that particularly resonated with me, as I believe this is channel that is currently underused by many utility companies and something that Basis are looking at, to provide tools that can better equip utilities for self service customer engagement.

Leaders are Lemurs

The unexpected downpour on day two of the conference did not dampen anyone’s spirits. The day started with two excellent keynote sessions. Firstly Steve Lucas, President of Platform Solutions at SAP, continued the discussion on the Digital Utility.

He outlined that Utilities facing the digital era should not be ostriches, burying their heads in the sand, or fish following the crowd but rather lemurs because they are adaptable, agile and hyper aware. ‘Leaders are Lemurs’ serves as a unique rally cry to senior utilities executives facing the challenges of digital disruption.

For the 2nd keynote, we were privileged to have Lt Commander Rourke Denver, a 13 year veteran of the US Navy SEALs talk to us about the qualities of leadership.

In a profession where poor decisions can literally cost lives, there are few people more qualified to talk about the qualities of effective leadership.

Commander Denver told us about the advice he received during his SEAL training, that people will mirror, or even amplify, the behaviour of those people they report to. “Calm is contagious” is a management mantra we can all learn from.

The biggest highlight for me was the launch of Basis Technologies’’ Utilities Solutions User Group. This was a tremendous kick off event, mixing established customers American Water, Puget Sound Energy and Tacoma Public Utilities with new customers DTE Energy and TECO.

Not only was this a chance for our customers to more closely engage with Basis but an opportunity for the Utilities to share their experiences running BDEx and our other Utilities Solutions.

The must have add-on solution for Utilities running SAP CR&B

It was great to receive so much positive feedback from our users and for me personally very exciting as the culmination of the past 4 years driving our Utilities Solutions forward. At one point during the break, one of our customers even described Basis as the Beatles of the SAP world (for our innovation and high quality). We are still working out internally who gets to be Ringo.

With the accelerated pace of digital disruption and the transformation opportunities that it affords, there has never been a more exciting time to work in the utilities sector and in particular the SAP ecosystem.

The SAP for Utilities conference is a great event to learn more about the upcoming challenges and to see the innovative ways that utilities are leveraging technologies such as SAP HANA. Now is the chance for us all to embrace our inner lemur.

If you would like to read more about Utilities and the Digital Economy, you can download this e-book where you can find out four key characteristics utility companies are adopting to drive increased revenue, lower operational costs and achieve high customer satisfaction.

SAP Nav for Utilities

SAP for Utilites

New people I meet generally tend not to believe me when I tell them I have a terrible sense of direction.

Biologically, a good sense of direction is based on your ability to take advantage of environmental clues.

The most skilled navigators like the Bear Grylls of the world, mentally update their geographical position by keeping track of visual evidence. I can remember numbers and road names but using landmarks or remembering routes just doesn't work for me.

If you've ever visited Canada, you’ll agree with me when I say that the grid layout of the road is really helpful. (i.e. I have a 1 in 4 chance of getting it right!)

So... I decided to walk back from the office I was visiting and I have walked this route 4 times before. Simple right?..That wasn't quite the case..

By the time I got to the hotel I'd not only walked an extra 2 hours than anticipated, it was dark, -18 degrees and I was ready for my first cup of coffee in 28 years. I felt like I'd been wandering around the Canadian wilderness lost for hours.

The funny thing is navigation doesn't only apply to roads, finding your way around SAP software is equally a laborious and complicated task.

IS-U has over 100,000 transactions and probably around 100 relevant transaction codes (T Codes) a user may have to remember in order to resolve customer queries and exceptions.

It is inefficient when a user is spending time searching for the data they require, extending their handling time and it is frustrating to not be able to find what you need.

To assist me when I'm driving or even walking these days I can use navigational software like my Sat Nav® or Google Maps.

The SAP world is no different.

I can use data models of course to help me understand the context of each transaction and where it relates to, (I.e. the device or billing but without hours of training it’s not really that useful).

Why would you spend hours learning all the transactions with a high risk, when you can use a solution that ties all the transaction codes together, in context and gives you appropriate names to enable a user to simply find and execute the transactions they require?

A 360 degree view of your customers in your SAP system.

If you’re able to pull all the relevant data into one handy place and get a complete 360 degree view of the customer, you can enable a user to find all the necessary information required to investigate and resolve a customer’s account.

This is exactly what BDEx does!

If you want to improve customer experience and reduce operational overhead, BDEx contains over 350 different pre-packaged actions accessible with a single click.

You can easily navigate through SAP IS-U and really cut out all the unnecessary steps which have extended work processes and resolution times of exceptions.

This tool has been proven to reduce average handling times by up to 50% and improve first call resolution by up to 42% for customers such as Puget Sound Energy and American Water.

Make your users happier by giving them useful tools to help them work more efficiently and smarter, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction overall.

Using my favourite GPS has made travelling a less stressful more enjoyable experience and in my job I frequently travel so this is a must for me.

If you want to help your users navigate from A to B faster with BDEx and make their job easier, sign up for our webinar "Deliver true customer-centric service for Utilities running SAP" on September the 9th and get a sneak preview of BDEx 4.0 before it is launched at the SAP for Utilities Conference, Huntington Beach, in September.

SAPCraft: Survival in the SAP CR&B wilderness

Every generation of parent has to deal with the latest fad or craze sweeping the nation, from Cabbage Patch Kids, Mighty Morphing Power Rangers through to Frozen and Loom Bands.

Having seen her friends playing the game Minecraft, my daughter asked if we could get a copy of the game.

If you’re not familiar with it, in a nutshell it is a digital Lego box where the only limit to what you can build is your imagination.

It’s a technological phenomenon, in fact over 70 million copies have been sold worldwide, with it’s own dedicated convention and becoming one of the most viewed topics on YouTube (scoring even more hits than funny cat videos).

My wife, always with an eye for a bargain, found it in an online sale and before you could say South American river themed online retailer, a copy of the game arrived through the post.

Being both a responsible parent and an avid gamer, I decided to trial the game first to ensure it was age appropriate.

What could possibly go wrong?

Spoiler alert: Quite a bit actually.

I started the game and after a few clicks my pixelated avatar ‘Steve’ was roaming the computer generated world, admiring the polygon trees, rivers, mountains and wildlife.

As the square Sun of this digital world began to set, my daughter popped her head around the door.

“Daddy, it’s getting dark. You really should build a shelter”.

Little did I know that I had chosen something called Survival Mode, where the objective is not just to build but to survive the monsters that darkness brings. Moments later my character was flanked by spiders, zombies and various other nasty, bitey things.

With only a handful of wood and some dust at my disposal, I didn’t stand a chance.

What I had done is failed to observe the basic rules of survival:

  • Always ensure you are properly equipped for the environment.
  • Heed the advice of experienced adventurers.

The same survival rules apply to SAP CR&B.

SAP provides a powerful platform for utilities billing and managing the customer experience.

But it is not without its challenges.

The same recurring themes come up when talking to Utilities that have implemented CR&B:

Exceptions:

The interruptions to the smooth flow of the business process. If not managed carefully, exceptions can cripple the Back Office, delay billing and impact the customer experience. With exceptions like implausible reads and outsorts, it is often a difficult balancing act. You don’t want to release excessive, incorrect bills to consumers but also you don’t want to choke your Back Office with large volumes of exception cases. Utilities need the right tools in place to combat the exceptions challenge.

The User Experience:

It’s complicated, we get that. But having to memorize a long list of transaction codes and navigate multiple systems to investigate billing and metering issues is needlessly time consuming. It is far better to have a centralized 360 degree single view of the customer to work from.

Reporting:

Turning transactional data into useful management information is often a challenge, certainly when the scale of data prohibits fast operational reporting. Getting access to business data, in a faster, better way is critical to making informed operational decisions.

The Utilities Solutions at Basis Technologies have been designed to overcome these obstacles.

There is a reason that Utilities using our solutions have won the ‘CIS Implementation of the Year’ award two years running.

So if you are moving from a legacy system to SAP CR&B or you are in the process of upgrading to the latest release, make sure you are properly equipped to survive the transition.

You don’t want to end up like poor Steve.

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