By Benjamin Beberness, CIO, Snohomish County PUD
Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs and expectations
The biggest challenges are how to leverage the cloud, build the trust factor for the cloud, secure the cloud, cloud providers to be available when required and also for connectivity to be available when we need it.
The main thing for utilities is cyber security and I really believe that we need to look at how cyber security is being focused on. Today, there are new viruses, new threats and risks that come out and thus, there is a need for us to look at cyber security and how we can get ahead of it, how do we change the way we have architected our systems over the years or the technology in which it was established and to build it with security in mind upfront.
We are working with the vendors and responding to the President's Executive Order and the changes in the regulations. This all keeps us on our toes. That is why cyber security keeps me up at night.
Technology trends impacting enterprise business environment
The in-memory computing is probably a technology that will have a significant impact on how we move forward. The other trend would be business analytics and bringing our operational technology, our customer service information and social media information in order to better serve our customers. These are the trends that will make a huge impact in the utility industry.
Using technology to address the most significant challenges
Not too long ago, utilities had to build systems to meet the business capabilities they were required to provide or their customers expected. Today, utilities can buy the software they need to meet those challenges.
Software vendors like SAP provide utility-specific solutions for their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and more. In addition, SAP is providing in-memory capabilities (HANA) across their solution suite, allowing utilities to better serve their customers and provide better data analytics capabilities, which will enable utilities to meet tomorrow's challenges.
Using technology to bring in efficiency
At Snohomish County PUD we are about to start implementation of what we call our ONE Program. The ONE Program will pursue an Enterprise Resource Planning solution (from SAP, Inc.) that will minimize the number of different business processes and simplify and consolidate those processes across the organization. The scope of the ONE Program includes an integrated system managing both external and internal information, including accounts receivable/payable, general ledger, budgeting, financial reporting, purchasing, warehousing, transportation, project and work order management, asset management, customer relationship management, mobile work force and human resources.