Moving on to our next recap, we will now dive into EA in Energy and Utility. Our next two speakers have a vast array of experiences working as Project Directors and heads of IT respectively leading implementations of Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Re-engineering, and other IT Solutions and Management with a focus on sustainability and scalability from various industries such as banking, IT, Telecommunications, and Energy.
EA in Energy & Utility – Dr. Jérôme Godard
In the space of Enterprise Architecture in the Energy and Utilities industry, we have Dr. Jérôme Godard – a veteran in the Digital Transformation and Enterprise Architecture space, with 16 years of experience that spans work as a Project Director leading consulting implementations of Enterprise Architecture and GRC Solutions and managing Professional Services practices implementations, Business Process Reengineering, and Change Management and currently the Services Director for the Asia Pacific Region for MEGA International.
Dr. Jerome started his presentation by sharing the clear key drivers for Enterprise Architecture in the Energy and Utilities Industry that can be stimulating and value-adding for organizations in the industry. First, he talked about the regulation and silos – which are quite related historically, especially in the Energy industry partly due because the regulators who make sure that they were fewer dependencies between the silos and be able to operate by themselves. As a result of these regulations and silos, organizations now have to adapt after significant changes in terms of operations and IT landscape to adapt to changes in regulations and structural changes in the organizations. His next point focused on how Digital Transformation, in this context started many years ago to address new ways to work with partners and serve customers. Typical new technologies that have a strong impact on the industry such as Smart Meters, which have started to appear in Europe and recently in APAC Region – are used to connect or link businesses in IT in a more dynamic way. He cited that COVID has been especially challenging for specific operations of companies in the Energy and Utilities Industries pushing these organizations to balance what can be done online and offline. Lastly, Dr. Jerome mentioned that from a Market perspective, there has been a significant trend and increase to move from Energy Sales to Service Sales. Most companies are focusing more on providing Services because of the competitive environment and they are also considering customers as partners — this has been changing the way inputs and outputs are going between stakeholders and brings new opportunities for those companies to get energy from their customers, sometimes to redistribute it — but this adds more complexity in how they operate. Due to these drivers, it was mentioned that Enterprise Architecture is more needed in organizations and integrated as a key function in the operations.
EA in Energy & Utility – Joey Nubla
Joey Nubla, Head of IT and Chief Information Officer of Prime Asset Ventures, Inc. (PAVI), shared his insights and lessons learned as he went through various digital transformations in the utility industry.
One of the problems when starting a digital transformation, which is a common sight in IT when it comes to working on in-house developed applications, is the spaghetti architecture. When coming up with plans and strategies, scalability and sustainability are often not included in the mix with a lot of monolithic architectures being set in place. Another common problem is dealing with the messy middle where there are two trains of thought. First is a strew of enterprise-wide transformation initiatives when combined together for a messy middle where people mesh in complexities with regard to the chunk of transformation. Moreover, people lose sight of their initiative and how it fits into the bigger picture. As a result, the goals of the wider transformation are lost. The second train of thought is emotions where project sponsors and project teams tend to be swayed by their emotions due to the fact that they are highly invested in the project.
In order to veer away from the messy middle, Joey emphasized that being mindful is the key to planning for digital transformation. More often than not, people look at the business objectives yet they tend to forget to anchor themselves on principles. People get too busy with processes but when these processes break down, the principles will set IT apart from the rest.
He enumerated the key IT principles that he has been anchoring on in his digital transformation projects. Firstly, the best practices are followed such as TOGAF, and ITIL, among others. Second, the risk-based approaches wherein efforts are focused on high-risk areas in IT have a high impact on the operations. Businesses need to be informed of the areas to get their buy-in. The third is the scalable and sustainable approaches one of which is future-proofing the business and IT as a whole. And lastly, the re-use/buy/build principle where in it should be ensured that proper selection of solutions is observed by aligning it with the aforementioned principles.
Further, he shared that educating businesses and colleagues play a huge role in going through digital transformation. More often than not, especially for local organizations, Enterprise Architecture and IT governance are left behind. This is very evident in the utility industry especially when it comes to the marriage of Information Technology and Operational Technology. IT/OT convergence can merge business processes, insights, and controls into a single uniform environment. Recently, IT has been more than just hardware providers but is more seen as a partner in providing expertise in cybersecurity, systems integration, and network protocols among others. There are common challenges wherein IT and OT would often mix up, one of which is security. For instance, there would be a lack of know-how in OT since old operating systems versions are often used. In a drive to make processes more efficient, processes became more integrated. However, one of the challenges would be pinpointing the areas of processes that need to be improved or changed. It is a challenge to implement best practices for local scenarios. In addition to thinking about how a process would be efficient, business and regulatory requirements would also need to be considered in this exercise. Solutions would need to be flexible enough to be tailor-fitted to the business following these requirements, and we need to work on the principle of thinking global and acting local. In terms of systems integration, there has been a huge improvement in the utility industry with the use of various solutions in architecture. And with the advent of digital transformation, there are more and more businesses that use Enterprise Service Bus. With some of the challenges mentioned, he highlighted that Enterprise Architecture and IT governance framework provides valuable support in integrating both IT and OT areas.
The presentation was concluded by citing a quote, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” This can be applied not only to digital transformation in the utility industry but in other industries as well.
Proceedings and recordings of the Digital Transformation through Enterprise Architecture 2022 Conference are available for viewing below:
Stay tuned for the last part of the event recap on EA in Health and General Architecture Industry to be posted next month on Sinag Solutions’ blog and email newsletters!