Event Recap: SAP for Utilities North American Conference

September 18, 2014

Image_SAP for Utilities Event

The SAP for Utilities conference held this year in Hollywood, Florida is the most comprehensive utilities conference in North America and for many utility companies, the only conference they attend annually.

The event unites nearly 1,000 utilities professionals from CIO’s to Directors and Project Managers to Solution Architects who come together to embrace innovative solutions, fresh ideas and top strategies that will help improve their overall business performance.

The event covered hot topics such as implementations and upgrades, enterprise asset management, usability, customer engagement, analytics and more. Over 45 sessions were offered with 64 different speakers from customers, as well as SAP thought leaders and partners, including a highly engaged keynote by Henry Bailey – Global VP of the Utilities Industry Business Unit for SAP. Bailey touched upon the power of networks to connect people, partners, data and machines through such bridges and solutions like HANA and CRM Mobile.

As someone who focuses on data engagements, I gravitated towards a session given by Chuck Kelley & Tammy Powlas of Fairfax Water. They discussed how they needed to integrate two companies under the existing Fairfax Water umbrella in less than a year, with 43,000 accounts and 13 SAP objects. By BackOffice Associates standards this would not be seen as a complex data conversion, but for a smaller organization who took this on internally, I was overly impressed at their approach and organization. They noted that first and foremost, a data migration is a business issue and not a technical issue and pleaded with the audience to always do as many mock loads as possible. However, the most important emphasis was that organizations should “partner Business with IT”.

Similar, yet on a larger implementation scale, was Aundrea Jackson’s session from Puget Sound Energy on implementation and the importance of migrating correct customer data to ensure the success of delivering complete and accurate customer billing. During this session, she also touched on the importance of the Business and IT partnership.

Without such a partnership, you’re limited of any cohesion for the data migration process. Separation of Business and IT during data migration causes vacuums that result in errors and delays for your projects. It also reduces knowledge transfer, inhibits training and affects change management.

It is through the development of this partnership that we see the most impressive take away at the event, which is the sharing of knowledge and experiences gained by these companies from their successes and failures in correcting these issues.

If you are a utilities professional looking to engage with other leading industry experts, I highly recommend attending next year’s SAP for Utilities event and hope to see you there.


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