Utility Data: Moving to the Cloud – Part 2 of 3

May 25, 2016

Many electric companies are hesitant to move the cloud because they do not know where to start in applying a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. If you missed the first installment of this series, check it out here. In part 2 of this series, we continue to provide insight into two additional factors contributing to the need for change.

Until recently, utilities were limited to processing their remittance in-house or to completely outsourcing the function. A SaaS infrastructure opens new doors to give utilities the best of both. For any organization that processes more than 6 million items annually, a SaaS platform has an extremely relevant business case. Utilities maintain serious needs for large capital investments and extended plans despite the uncertainties associated with this industry surrounding policy, commodity market demand and general economic conditions. As this industry undergoes transformation, it must adapt to stakeholder needs, at the core of which you have consumers who interact with you most naturally and most frequently through billing and payments.

Two additional factors contributing to the need for change in how many utilities operate:

Technology support. Utilities that manage billing and payments processing in-house have been forced to look at basic technology options. Let’s take the end of support for Windows XP for example. Although an organization might have been convinced of its ability to continue running even short term without the support, doing so might have left machines that were running XP more susceptible to malware. If a company moves to a SaaS solution, the technology provider is responsible for maintaining awareness and then pushing out any necessary updates.

QC measures. Quality control is a big undertaking for any organization. In this industry, prepping remittance and getting them processed to the requirement of that utility is time-consuming. The software infrastructure and support of SaaS makes sense for utilities because it offers control over quality and costs without the capital expenditures and ongoing expense to support the application. When using SaaS, the utility still needs to hire processing staff, but not information technology support. Keeping its own staff and managing the processing allows control over product quality while reducing infrastructure costs. SaaS adds a new dimension to service and risk management in sustaining R&D dollars and specialized expertise.

Even with this said, many electric companies are hesitant because they do not know where to start in applying a SaaS model; however their billing and payments processes present the ideal opportunity to leverage these solutions for a true, business-wide impact.

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