Raiford Smith, Vice President, Energy Technology and Analytics, Entergy
Changes in IT Operating Model
Entergy has changed our operating model from plan-build-run to more of a hybrid that allows service delivery managers and their teams to make decisions quickly about projects, technologies and investments in their service without lengthy reviews by multiple intermediaries. Our hybrid operating model is now one that changes the delivery focus from projects to products, which includes technically aligned, business unit aligned and business process aligned towers designed to minimize hand-offs and give our customers a great experience. This evolution is the result of changing customer expectations as the reliance on technology has increased as well as the demand for speed of service.
The Biggest Challenges faced by Energy and Storage Technologists in a More Agile and Outcomes Based Model
Our industry is under enormous pressure to adapt and change. And Entergy’s ability to find the right transformative path is filled with uncertainty. The biggest challenge we face is how to make our strategy, technology and related business processes nimble-enough to meet the future demands of our business.
Too often, I’ve seen companies forcing new capabilities to fit into an old way of doing business. It’s vital for us to allow the technology and new capabilities to take the lead in our transformation rather than having them lock us into our historic mindset.
Entergy’s traditional approach to investing in a new project or technology required years of effort, but in this day and age we are all managing with fewer resources and compressed timelines. The expectation from our leadership is to deliver results right now, not in a few years.
Agile and outcomes-based models help Entergy meet that challenge. Partnerships and agility are the hallmarks for success now and in the future. It helps us spread risk.
Good advice to anyone embarking on a career in IT or elsewhere is to spend time understanding both technology and the business that technology supports
It helps us understand and pivot to new opportunities. But most of all, it helps us keep our business focused on innovation and transformation, not on the siren song of historical results.
Skills required to be Successful in the New Enterprise Landscape
One common thread of successful technology leaders is they deeply understand the business they support.
Often those in IT categorically understand the technology but not necessarily the challenges and opportunities of the business. Good advice to anyone embarking on a career in IT or elsewhere is to spend time understanding both technology and the business that technology supports. Experience first-hand what it’s like to live and breathe operations, revenue-generation and risk management functions. Learn the lingo, understand the opportunities, and identify the issues along the way. This helps create well-rounded, valuable solutions and provides perspective to solve particularly difficult industry issues.
Future technology Innovations
There are many, but blockchain technology seems to be a fascinating advancement.
Metcalfe’s Law states the value of a network is comparable to the number of commonly-connected devices. Entergy’s electric grid is one such network where we see Metcalfe’s law at work every day. The more assets and customers that are interconnected, the more valuable the grid becomes. However, to really utilize the grid to its fullest extent, we need the ability to safely negotiate shared economic value among interconnected assets (whether customer-owned or utility-owned). Blockchains may give us this capability.
The benefits of adoption may be great. From a utility perspective, we could co-optimize assets, from battery storage to solar and smart thermostats, to better manage supply and demand. Customers, on the other hand, should see more economic and lifestyle benefits from being interconnected to the grid. Like smart grid technologies–which began our digital revolution and analytics—have sparked so much new value, blockchains can become the next technology to enable a more-resilient, capable grid for everyone.
The Role of Technology
Technology’s biggest impact on my life is its ability to enable new capabilities for Entergy’s customers. Whether it’s enhancing our grid through distributed energy resources, such as battery storage or microgrids, creating new analytic insights through an enterprise analytics program or developing new business models, technology is re-shaping our industry and customer expectations every day.
By laying a smart, digital foundation with Entergy’s grid, using our data to provide insights and creating the products our customers want, the utility business model can successfully advance. Technology can provide the foundation for this evolution. It’s a great time to be in the utility industry and technology is the catalyst to really help this transformation.