Rodger-Smith-12-12-11(2)by Rodger Smith, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Utilities

Utilities have begun to transition their decades-old, custom-built customer information systems to meet 21st century needs.

A core business application, the utility’s customer information system (CIS) supports a variety of legacy and new business processes, including customer self-service. According to a recent study by IDC Energy Insights, it’s clear that “these systems are ripe for replacement, given advances in underlying technology, changes in regulations, acquisitions, the need to accommodate new pricing structures, and retirement of the workforce (who are) supporting legacy systems.”1 A recent study underwritten by Oracle found that, with the price-per-customer cost of implementation declining considerably, a third of the utilities surveyed have a CIS upgrade or replacement on their near-term radar.

These findings reflect an upswing in interest by utilities globally in elevating and refining their approaches to customer management. Technological advances in recent years have provided the means to supply the end-to-end utility need to more intelligently manage its customers in order to improve customer insight, efficiency, and the introduction of innovative products and services. As well, new technology supports demand management programs and strategies, customer life cycle management for micro-generation programs and innovative customer participation in grid utilisation.

There are numerous business drivers spurring the push to overhaul CIS performance, including:

  • Improving customer interaction and customer service performances with responsive and reliable call center operations based on high-performance, real-time customer data
  • Leveraging maximum value from customer data to further optimise operational performance and customer interaction
  • Retaining customers through improved customer retention strategies, innovative product offerings and efficient resource management.

In implementing a new CIS, a strong business case going into the project is imperative. Ensure that you know what you want it to achieve before you start.

1 Feblowitz, Jill and Torchia, Marcus. “CIS: Meeting Today’s Need for Low-Cost Implementations,” IDC Energy Insights, April 2015.

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