IBM Powers Up Solutions To Help Utilities Move to On-Demand

New middleware offerings allow energy companies to adapt in a shifting environment

Select a topic or year

WHITE PLAINS, NY - 19 Apr 2004: IBM today introduced software solutions designed to help utilities companies turn existing IT assets into business-focused infrastructure that is ready to deal with the skyrocketing demands of customers, investors and regulators.

For energy companies that are ready to make the transition to an On-Demand enterprise, the new software layer offers a dynamic, networked environment in which business processes can be pre-modeled and operations can be quickly transformed as the need arises. Forward-looking utilities are evolving from business models that focus on internal efficiency to methods that take maximum advantage of what external organizations -- regulators, independent operators, suppliers, other utilities, customers -- need and have to offer.

"Utilities companies worldwide have seen more change in the last several years than they have in the past 100 years," said David Samuel, general manager of IBM's energy & utilities solutions group. "Many are still operating blindly - information is scattered in silos and arrives too late to make good decisions. We're helping them move quickly to build new business models and to offer consumers more on-demand services to fully leverage real-time information in their decision making."

IBM's new middleware offerings help utilities adapt to an ever evolving landscape of business issues - areas such as regulatory compliance; energy trading and managing physical assets profitably. In addition, IBM has developed a way for utilities to strategically organize, build upon and operate their IT assets for maximum efficiency and flexibility - a framework design known as SAFE - Solution Architecture For Energy & Utilities.

Supports Open Standards & Popular Applications
IBM's new middleware solutions work with the energy industry's most widely used software applications and are built using open-standard platforms such as Linux and Java. They mix core and optional components to take maximum advantage of IBM's arsenal of pre-built software such as DB2 database and content manager, Lotus, WebSphere integration and portal products, Rational development tools, and security and systems management solutions from Tivoli. The new solutions work with the industry's most popular applications from vendors such as Arcom, CES, ESRI, GE Energy, Indus, MDSI, MRO, Peace, SAP, Siebel, SPL and Viecore,.

"IBM's middleware has been an important contributing factor to enable our joint utility customers to move to automated services, such as requesting new electric service or on-line bill payment" said Thomas Chisholm, CEO and President of Viecore. IBM and Viecore's solutions provide utility companies all the tools they need to automate common customer interactions, eliminating a major drain on resources and operational costs."

Asset Operation
IBM's middleware solution for asset management gives utilities a real-time picture of what's happening throughout their grid. It integrates real-time data generated by machines and other assets located throughout the grid -- substations, generators and sensors located on power lines - to give utility managers instant access to vital information. The solution can help to prevent blackouts, reduce outage time and help decision-makers to profitably manage the life-cycle of a chain of complex assets.

Security & Regulatory Compliance
IBM's middleware solution for regulatory compliance can help energy providers meet the challenge of improving cyber security and tightening financial controls. Companies can model a variety of new business processes and run simulations that test how the new processes would comply with newer and stricter financial and business controls. Document management protocols and security rules can be automatically embedded in the final process.

Mobile Workforce Management
Mobile workers at energy companies need to connect to large headquarters-based applications such as SAP and have ready, wireless access to electronic forms. IBM's middleware solution for mobile workforce management creates a secure system for field crews and customer service representatives that helps to increase productivity and response time.

Energy Trading & Settlement
IBM's middleware solution for energy trading & settlement eliminates costly point-to-point custom solutions to integrate an energy company's internal systems and connect them to energy trading exchanges. It also provides energy traders access to real-time market data.

Customer Care
Contact Center Optimizer is IBM's middleware solution that provides an environment for utilities to streamline contact-center operations by allowing end customers to select their communication medium of choice (phone, voice, mobile, web, e-mail) for account self-service. Solution components include CSR dashboard for single customer view, customer analytics, customer self service and business process integration.

Solution Architecture for Energy & Utilities
IBM's Solution Architecture for Energy & Utilities (SAFE) provides an open, standards-based design for assembling and integrating the diverse types of multi-vendor IT and control systems used by utilities companies. SAFE provides management tools that improve control over project deployment, shortening the time it takes to develop and roll out IT solutions.