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Source : SAP
Advanced Meter Infrastructure: Composite Technologies to Meet New Demands in Sales and Customer Service
Advanced Meter Infrastructure is also known as :
Advanced Meter Infrastructure,
Advanced Metering System,
Automatic Meter Reading,
Advanced Meter Infrastructure Solution,
Global Automation Meter,
Build an Advanced Metering Infrastructure,
Advanced Meter Infrastructure Solution Overview,
Smart Metering Capability,
Mid-atlantic Distributed Resources Initiative,
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Toolbox,
Emerging as AMI Solution,
Advanced Meter Management Products,
Advanced Meter Infrastructure Composite,
Meter Management Products,
Wireless Platform Enables Advanced Metering,
Advanced Metering Infrastructure for Utility Industry,
Advanced Meter Management,
Views Advanced Meter Infrastructure,
Diagram of Advanced Metering Infrastructure,
Echelon Advanced Meter Infrastructure,
Meter Infrastructure Solution Extends,
Discussion of Advanced Meter Infrastructure,
Extensible Advanced Metering Infrastructure,
Platform Enables Advanced Metering,
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Security,
Systems Advanced Metering Infrastructure,
Metering Infrastructure Market,
Billing Metering Field Service.
- Executive Summary .
- Innovating Business Processes for Sales and Customer Service
- Optimize Revenues and Demand
- Make Customer Service More Cost-Effective
- Enable Market Efficiency and Automation
- Regional Business Cases for AMI
- North America
- Asia Pacific
- Technical Requirements of AMI
- How Enterprise SOA Supports AMI
- How SAP NetWeaver Supports Enterprise SOA
- Enterprise SOA and AMI in Action: Two Examples
- Disconnect/Reconnect Process
- Profile Data Management and Complex Billing
- SAP for Utilities
- Learn More
Over the course of many years, utilities have established robust
meter, network, and customer service infrastructures that are supported
by processes and systems designed for well-defined work routines and functions.
Conventional meters, with life cycles that can last up to 40 years, have been a
persistent feature of this landscape. These technologies have served the needs
of largely regulated energy and utility markets characterized by price
regulations, easy access to energy resources, and sufficient infrastructure
capacity. There have been few examples of "old" technologies that can make such
a compelling argument against replacement.
But this situation is about to change. Resources and infrastructure
capacities are becoming more marginal, and inelastic demand is restricting
revenue growth. Organizations must find ways to reduce costs over the short term
while simultaneously adapting to new legislatively mandated market rules that
require utilities to compete for customers on the open market.
To address these challenges, the next generation of technology to be applied
to metering and customer service infrastructures is known as advanced meter
infrastructure (AMI). Widely seen as a disruptive technology, AMI can be
described as a set of inter - disciplinary composite-application technologies
consuming enterprise services that are exposed by a process-centric data
exchange infrastructure for two-way communication between metering systems and
enterprise applications within and beyond company boundaries. Although AMI
impacts asset and commodity management at utilities, this paper will discuss AMI
in the context of its ability to help utilities innovate business processes for
sales and customer service. In this regard, AMI drives the optimization of
revenues and demand, enables more cost-effective customer service, and
facilitates market efficiency and the automation of data exchanges at new
business networks of energy suppliers and infrastructure operators.
On a regional basis, the business case for AMI will vary. North American and
European utility markets, for example, differ significantly in terms of grid and
meter-infrastructure design, regulatory framework, load capacity, consumption
patterns, operational costs, and revenues. AMI technologies, however, are
sufficiently broad in their application to a wide range of requirements. This is
indicated by that fact that these two regions are experiencing a drive toward
AMI-based technologies as utilities and legislative bodies take measures to
respond to resource and capacity limitations and growing demands on the part of
customers for more choices and greater flexibility. Indeed, Sweden, Ontario
(Canada), and Victoria (Australia) are already exploring AMI as they respond to
mandates that dictate AMI by 2007, 2009, and 2011, respectively.
Regardless of the specific market requirements, however, it is clear that
without sufficiently adaptive IT landscapes, utilities across the board will
find it difficult to deliver on the promise of AMI. This is where enterprise
service-oriented architecture ( SOA)enterprise comes into play. Enterprise SOA
is a business driven software architecture that goes beyond the fundamentals of
service-oriented architecture, allowing utilities to flexibly expose various
technology components within the IT landscape as Web services and more easily
compose solutions to support AMI. This paper examines how AMI is gaining a
foothold in energy markets and explains how utilities can use enterprise SOA to
make AMI a reality for those facing new and unanswered market challenges.
Innovating Business Processes For Sales And Customer Service
Energy markets throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere are
changing in response to customer demands and legislative mandates that seek to
conserve resources, protect customers, and introduce greater competition by
giving customers more choices. In response, traditional utilities that have so
far enjoyed the protection of highly regulated markets will have to upgrade
their metering and data-exchange infrastructures to increase the quality of
their sales and customer service processes.
The current generation of metering and data-exchange technology is not up to
this task. Take the example of automated meter reading (AMR) technology, which
has helped streamline meter reading and complex billing processes primarily for
large industrial customers. Because AMR infrastructures are often implemented
with a unidirectional flow of information, where consumption data is pushed from
the meter to the utility, they typically lack the ability to process closed-loop
service and revenue activities in real time. Among other things, this makes
disconnection/reconnection processes and the delivery of personalized services
The next generation of metering and data-exchange technologies is known as
advanced meter infrastructure technologies. With abilities to support
bidirectional flows of information, AMI enables far more responsive sales and
service departments and allows customers to make more informed
energy-consumption decisions in response to different price signals.
Because many utilities are heavily invested in more traditional meter
technologies, a certain amount of resistance to AMI can be expected. Traditional
electromechanical meters, after all, have life cycles that are several decades
long and work just fine in the context of markets with little change and missing
competitive structures. But as utilities begin to feel increased legislative
pressures to adapt their businesses to competitive markets and to support demand
management, experts predict that AMI will fill the gap as an enabling
AMI can be seen as a fitting example of a "disruptive technology" ' a term
coined by Clayton M. Christensen in his seminal book The Innovator's Dilemma. To
paraphrase Christensen, a disruptive technology is one that gains market
adoption by addressing an unfulfilled need despite being radically different
from the prevailing technology and despite potential performance short -
comings. AMI fits this definition because it poses a challenge to existing
metering and data-exchange methods by fulfilling a need that earlier-generation
technology cannot ' namely, providing powerful system interoperability on a
business process level. Following the disruptive technology model, one can
reasonably predict that utilities will ultimately invest in comprehensive or
selective AMI deployments to remain competitive despite lingering attempts to
milk existing investments as they decline.
Taking a closer look at the individual components, Gartner divides AMI into
six process steps, each supported by different technologies.
|1. Data Acquisition
|2. Data Transfer
||Broadband over Power Lines (BPL),
Wireless, RF Satellite
|3. Data Cleansing
||Validation Editing Estimation (VEE),
|4. Data Processing
|5. Information Storage/Persistency
|6. Information Delivery/Presentment
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
|Figure 1: Process Steps and Supporting Technologies of AMI
All involved processes and systems ' both within and beyond company
boundaries ' can be linked through composite application technologies that
consume enterprise services exposed by a process-centric data-exchange
infrastructure. This, in turn, enables two-way communication between metering
systems and enterprise applications so that utilities can build innovative sales
and customer service processes. The following sections describe how AMI helps
utilities do the following activities:
- Optimize revenues and demand
- Make customer service more cost-effective
- Automate data exchanges at new business networks of energy suppliers and
Optimize Revenues and Demand
Price elasticity relates to how customers react to price signals. It can be
seen as an indicator of economic behavior and how rules of economies work in a
market. In general, price elasticity is negative, which means falling prices
lead to an increase in demand and vice versa.
Under normal circumstances, consumer demand curves for energy are inelastic
for a number of different reasons, including the following:
- Political mandates and regulated prices
- Overall low-perceived importance for energy commitments (energy
efficiency and energy sources, for example) and value-added services
delivered through utilities
- A basic lack of more granular customer-usage information needed for
While AMI cannot change regulated prices, it can enable sales departments to
create demand-response programs and to offer differentiated services on the
basis of more-sophisticated customer segmentation. Technically speaking, AMI
enables utilities to process and analyze consumption profiles in real time.
Accordingly, you can introduce different pricing schemes that allow you to
design products for better demand balancing and for margin optimization. More
personalized supply contracts can support complex billing schemes for real-time
and time-of-use pricing (based on seasonal, day type, and on- and off-peak
periods), incentives for nonusage (curtailment agreements), power-quality
services, street-lighting services, appliance control, customer service levels
based on credit scores, or other criteria.
In addition, not only will linking real-time consumption analysis to
risk-based customer segmentation and more-effective collection measures help to
assure revenue, but it will also enable customers to view energy as an essential
debt. Tailored rates combined with tailored collection strategies can change
consumption behavior. This means greater price elasticity for differentiated
service offerings. Eventually, suppliers will be able to optimize their
revenues, margins, and product positioning.
Make Customer Service More Cost-Effective
By using AMI technologies, utilities can effectively integrate
process-centric energy and business data across different systems ' including
electronic meter systems (also called "smart meters"), AMR systems,
management (MDM) systems, customer information systems (CIS), and outage
management systems (OMS). This makes it easier to automate and optimize customer
With AMI, utilities can do the following tasks:
- Read meters remotely ' thus eliminating issues of premise access, travel
time, incorrect readings, and so on
- Offer billing services based on actual consumption data and meter
- Automate the aggregation and transfer of energy data
- More effectively manage customer service inquiries and disputes, with
access to up-to-date profile data
- Connect real-time consumption data to electronic customer self-services
- More effectively identify faults and rapidly restore service on the
basis of real-time readings of on-premise conditions and extended enterprise
systems into the mobile field force
- Automatically interpret and implement curtailment and
disconnection/reconnection orders as a result of enforced collection
The issue of dunning provides just one concrete example of how AMI can make
customer service more cost-effective. Research studies have revealed a
correlation between payment behavior and time. As time goes on, the likelihood
of a customer making good on outstanding obligations decreases. To cope with the
challenges of this phenomenon, utilities can apply a collection strategy. As
indicated in Figure 3, such a strategy might involve various dunning procedures,
the first step of which includes the utility contacting the customer to remind
him or her of the payment obligations. When the customer still does not fulfill
these commitments, the utility could issue a disconnection warning and reduce
the energy quantity or load as a precursor. At the end of the process, the
utility could execute the disconnection order if payment is not received.
Typically, this disconnection (and reconnection) process is characterized
by significant cost, as service technicians and security personnel have to be
on-site to perform the required activities. With AMI technology, utilities can
automate this process and thus reduce costs significantly. The technical issues
involved here will be discussed at a later point.
Enable Market Efficiency and Automation
Utilities markets that are designed to promote competition will force energy
providers to focus more intently on specific roles and business objectives, such
as delivering excellence in customer service, achieving reliable meter and grid
infrastructures, and providing meter reading services and value-added services.
In order to make such markets work, utilities must establish innovative business
networks, which will entail more-efficient inter action between suppliers and
operators of distribution grids and meter infrastructures. Accordingly,
utilities will need collaborative and automated processes and enabling business
IT, such as portal technologies, collaboration tools, integration brokers,
energy data management applications, and market processing applications and
repositories to exchange, and monitor aggregated consumption information. AMI
serves this need with next-generation, process-centric data-exchange
infrastructures with capabilities for two-way communication, high-capacity
processing, near real- time data, rule and context handling, and audit tracking.
Regional Business Cases For AMI
Even where organizations are implementing AMI to comply with government
mandates, certain market conditions can serve as signposts to help evaluate the
potential success of AMI technologies. These include markets where one or more
of the following conditions apply:
- Political mandates dictate resource conservation and customer
- Growing energy demands and costs drive recognition of energy commitments
(efficiency and sources, for example).
- Pressures on margins and revenues drive more sophisticated customer
segmentation and differentiated services.
- Markets have multiutility structures and recognize value-added services.
- More-specific business focus and partnerships drive collaborative and
- Data is being exchanged with greater frequency, larger volume, and more
- Sales and service excellence requires common data exchange standards,
interoperability of systems, consistent data quality, and support for
service-level agreements between suppliers and infrastructure operators.
- Revenue collection and days' sales outstanding (DSO) are high.
- Outage restoration costs are high.
- Disconnection/reconnection costs are high.
- Meter-reading costs are high.
- Some more structural requirements apply (see Figure 4) ' for example,
thresholds of average household revenues and consumption to recover
investments, thresholds of the number of electronically metered households
within distribution grids to release sufficient peaks from grids, thresholds
of number of meters owned and accessible by utilities, and more.
In the case of North America and Europe, many of these market conditions
exist, making it all the more likely that AMI will gain a foothold as
organizations take steps to address new challenges. This is not to overlook
regional differences. While Europe shows complex market structures with a high
density of consumers, meters, and interconnected distribution networks, North
American utility markets tend toward high consumption per meter, net work
capacity constraints, and longer line distances with low population densities.
Although infrastructure, cost, and regulatory situations are different, both
markets can build a case for AMI.
According to ABS Energy Research, 27 million electronic meters have already
been installed in North America as of 2005, with predictions pointing to 25
million more by 2010. Furthermore, in North America, utilities can depend on
relatively high average revenues per household, exceeding $1,000
In the United States in particular, individual states such as Texas,
California, and Idaho are currently experimenting with pilot programs for AMI.
The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 is also increasing the likelihood of
widespread AMI technology adoption with its call for utilities to provide
customers with time-based rate schedules within 18 months of the bill's
enactment ' which would be February 2007. The following considerations are
particularly important for the U.S. market:
- Supporting new rates for balancing demand ' because utilities are
experiencing infrastructure-capacity constraints and peak load situations.
- Automating the field force and controlling costs ' because utilities
face the challenges of aging infrastructure and outage restoration over long
Compared with North America, average revenues per household are relatively
low in Europe, averaging approximately $400. Note, too, that the European market
has a large amount of installed physical meters with lifetimes of up to 40
years. This suggests that utilities will need to phase in AMI over time as these
meters reach the end of their life cycles. The following sales and customer
service issues are of particular importance to European energy providers:
- Facilitating business networks and data exchanges ' because utilities
face complex market structures as a result of liberalization.
- Supporting the differentiation of products and services ' because there
are high numbers of market participants.
- Supporting revenue-assurance measures ' because utilities face
significant payment issues.
- Balancing demand ' because utilities must contend with decentrally
produced renewable energy and associated peak loads.
AMI developments in the Asia-Pacific region are also important to consider.
For example, according to ABS Energy Research, China will have deployed
approximately 100 million electronic meters by 2010 to tackle increasing
problems with supply and demand of limited resources such as water. Utilities
can make a solid business case for AMI in China and countries in the
While the precise extent to which utilities will leverage AMI in various
regions to address the market and regulatory challenges facing them remains to
be seen, it seems obvious that the technology will gain market adoption on an
incremental basis as obsolete meter infrastructures reach the end of their life
cycles and utilities explore replacement options.
Technical Requirements of AMI
AMI assumes certain technological requirements, which place specific demands
on the IT landscapes of utilities and energy providers. The illustration above '
portraying a particular communication relationship between the meter
infrastructure and the back-end system ' can be used to highlight these
The first step in the process involves the collection and consolidation of
relevant consumption and meter-reading data from the customer's meters. The
meter infrastructure must then transfer this data to a raw database for storage,
but not before executing consistency checks and replacement-value procedures for
data quality purposes. The information and billing systems can perform these
activities ' as it might be required when the back-end system of the utility is
receiving implausible values from the AMI system, which would prevent a further
processing of the data in energy settlement and billing.
You can achieve this one-way communication by relatively established
technologies such as AMR. One of the advantages of AMI technology, on the other
hand, is its bidirectional communication. This would be useful for whenever you
need to transfer information from back-end systems to a specific meter ' as when
a customer requests an immediate reading via the call center or when any changes
in master data occur.
AMI can also support increased demands from supply and network operators for
higher-quality data. The technology supports normed metering data, accurately
measured values, time-of-data supply, strict deadline compliance, and adherence
to legal and industry specifications.
In addition to providing bidirectional communication and higher-quality data,
AMI must be able to manage the exponential increase in the volume of meter data
expected to result from time-of-use billing mandates in regions such as
California in the United States and Ontario in Canada. This requires not only
the importation of interval data (including all checks as mentioned above), but
also greater billing and invoicing transparency ' including the ability to
calculate and access individual consumption patterns through a Web-based portal.
Utilities are also looking to AMI to support flexible customer contracts and
enable the adaptability required to effectively respond to pricing-structure
changes due to an evolving regulatory framework
How Enterprise SOA Supports AMI
More than ever before, IT plays a critical role in business success. The
applications and technologies created, managed, and maintained within the IT
infrastructure serve as engines of the enterprise ' without which business would
come to a halt. And in many cases, the ability of IT to respond to emerging
business requirements such as AMI in a rapid, cost-effective manner determines
whether or not an organization can keep pace with market changes and maintain
Increasingly, organizations are focusing on end-to-end processes. This puts
the burden on IT to support people, processes, and information across multiple
organizations and systems. In the case of AMI and smart meters, the process
extends from collection of meter information to final invoice presentment and
bill payment. IT must be able to integrate a wide range of best-of-breed
solutions, communicate effectively across enterprise boundaries, and facilitate
collaboration between departments, suppliers, partners, and customers. Needless
to say, to make AMI and smart metering a business reality, utilities must do all
of this in a cost-effective manner.
The stark reality for most utilities and energy providers, however, is that
their IT landscapes are currently characterized by an amalgamation of
disaggregated, heterogeneous systems, including company-wide applications,
best-of-breed solutions, enterprise resource planning systems, and legacy
systems. This impedes the flexible integration required to respond to change and
seize emerging opportunities.
Another issue is the lack of reusability within system landscapes. The
tightly integrated business engines that make up the typical IT landscape have
been built to enable the high-performance transactions that drive operational
efficiency. This is fine as long as business stands still. But it doesn't. When
it comes time to incorporate a new business partner, customer, product, or
service, IT is faced with a costly, highly complex integration project because
the organization originally put little effort into maintaining a clear
distinction between user interfaces, business logic, and data.
The concept of Web services provides an answer to this problem. A Web service
represents a self-contained, self-describing piece of application functionality
that can be found, accessed, and used by other applications using open
standards. No longer is it necessary for programmers to spend time making
inflexible, point-to-point connections between applications. IT can now rapidly
and cost effectively string together new processes by exposing existing
application components as Web services and employing them for new purposes. Down
the road, when IT makes changes to the process to accommodate new business
requirements, the behavior of the Web service stays the same. This facilitates
reuse, simplifies change management, and increases organizational
Enterprise SOA takes Web services standards and service-oriented architecture
principles and extends them to meet the requirements of enterprise business
solutions. The fundamental premise of enterprise SOA is the abstraction of
business activities or events, modeled as enterprise services, from the actual
functionality of enterprise applications. Aggregating Web services into business
level enterprise services provides more meaningful building blocks for the task
of automating enterprise-scale business scenarios. Enterprise services allow IT
organizations to develop composite applications ' defined as applications that
compose functionality and information from existing systems to support new
business processes or scenarios. All enterprise services communicate via the Web
services standard, can be described in a central repository, and are created and
managed by tools provided by such technologies as the SAP NetWeaver® platform.
How SAP NetWeaver Supports Enterprise SOA
By aligning IT with business requirements, the SAP NetWeaver platform
enables organizations to compose new business solutions rapidly while
obtaining more business value from existing IT investments. As the foundation
for enterprise SOA, SAP NetWeaver helps organizations evolve their current IT
landscapes into strategic environments that drive business change.
SAP NetWeaver provides a composition platform that enables IT departments to
compose and orchestrate enterprise services using model-based development.
With these enterprise services, organizations have a far easier time rapidly
enhancing existing business processes or developing and deploying new
In many respects, enterprise SOA is a journey. Rather
than transitioning IT in one colossal project, organizations can implement
enterprise SOA'based applications on a project-by-project basis and move
gradually toward the benefits of service orientation. To help IT departments
down this road, SAP identifies common IT practices and provides a technology
solution map that organizations can use to match requirements to IT solutions
based on SAP NetWeaver. For each IT practice, SAP NetWeaver supports a
variety of key IT activities, all of which you can perform using the
integrated components of SAP NetWeaver in a flexible, step-by-step approach
at low cost. With this approach, IT departments can focus on immediate IT
needs while transitioning to enterprise SOA for greater flexibility and
openness. This approach is particularly valuable to utilities organizations
making the transition to AMI.
As an open technology platform, SAP NetWeaver
is based on industry standards and can be extended with commonly used
development tools such as Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE). This
reduces total cost of ownership and complexity across the entire IT
landscape. And because it unifies integration technologies in a single
platform, SAP NetWeaver reduces the need for custom integration and ensures
that mission-critical business processes are reliable, secure, and scalable.
Enterprise SOA and AMI in Action: Two Examples
The following examples help to
illustrate how enterprise SOA can make the promise of AMI a reality.
With the bidirectional capabilities of AMI
supported by the SAP NetWeaver platform and enterprise SOA, utilities can
monitor customers for delinquent payments, disconnect customers to prevent
further unauthorized usage, and quickly reconnect them when outstanding
issues have been resolved. Without AMI supported by enterprise SOA, each step
in this process could take several days.
In the abstract, the entire
process consists of the following steps:
- Collection activity
- Customer contact
- Customer contact
Disconnection and reconnection are carried out by
an electronic meter outside the customer's IT landscape. After a credit and
collection center performs a dunning run and contacts the customer in the
form of a letter or a telephone call, the utility automatically sends
information to the device to disconnect it (3). Once the utility receives
payment, it can reconnect the device by way of an automated process initiated
from the customer information system (6).
To make this process possible,
you need several functional components within the IT landscape. These include
back-end systems with credit-and-collection-center functionality to identify
delinquent customers, automated dunning and payment recording, customer
relationship management capabilities to automate customer contact, and
message exchange capabilities to transmit the disconnect and reconnect
signals. Integrating the involved systems using prevailing enterprise
application integration techniques would require high-cost, hard-coded
function calls and significant resources. With the service orientation of
enterprise SOA, however, each component is exposed as a Web service,
allowing rapid integration for the targeted purpose at hand.
The graph in
Figure 6 shows some of the technical details involved in the
disconnection/reconnection process supported by AMI technology. For the
reconnection step, you need a Web service to trigger the creation of a
standardized XML message. This XML message contains a wide range of
information ' such as the metering number, equipment number, disconnection
document number, and so on ' which can be used by various partners to execute
the reconnection. To participate in the process, these partners will also
need a Web service that is stored within an enterprise service repository and
that can create an XML message. These Web services need not contain exactly
the same information, because some Web services might use only part of the
available information, as illustrated in Figure 6.
Even in cases where
communication between the back-end systems and AMI components is controlled
through a system management tool, you do not require precise replication of
Web services because only the needed content is transferred to the system
management tool. Once the Web service creates the XML message, the SAP
NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (SAP NetWeaver XI) component distributes
the relevant information within a separate integration layer to the various
AMI systems, as is often the case with larger utilities.
Regardless of the
potential architectural variations mentioned above, you can achieve the
mapping of the outbound and target interface ' including the corresponding
messages ' with intuitive graphical tools provided as part of SAP NetWeaver
XI. The high level of flexibility and comparatively low implementation effort
enabled by SAP NetWeaver XI makes it exceptionally easy for utilities to
incorporate new AMI partners and modify processes according to the customer's
Profile Data Management and Complex Billing
timely customer profile data is required for utilities to offer
differentiated services that meet the unique needs of each customer. In fact,
the Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that all residential customers in the
United States be provided with time-of-use billing. For utilities, this means
that consumption behavior data for all residential customers must be available
at a sufficient level of detail to easily identify time-bound usage
patterns according to seasons (winter, summer, and transition periods), time
of week (weekday/weekend), and on- or off-peak usage. On the basis of this
profile data, utilities then need to associate different prices to the
various quantities used and communicate this information to the customer on
the final invoice. This would serve as the foundation for allowing
customers to make more-intelligent, more-informed energy consumption
choices moving forward ' such as running large washing machines or air
conditioners during off-peak hours. In addition, utilities could flatten out
spikes in demand over certain periods. This would optimize the use of
generation capacity and obviate the need to produce additional energy.
While this level of data transfer, management, and analysis is already well
established for large customers for whom the expense of point-to-point
integration can be justified, extending this capability to the residential
customer base has long been cost-prohibitive. AMI supported by enterprise SOA
changes this by facilitating communication between the customer site and the
utility's backend systems so that the utility can upload and analyze
real-time customer profile data in a cost-effective manner. The following
process steps are involved:
- Profile upload
- Replacement value creation
- Profile data management
- Complex billing
The process starts with uploading the relevant information from the
customer's meter to the utility's back-end systems via AMI. This requires
seamless integration between the involved systems, as the demands on data
quality continue to rise with regard to time stamps, accuracy of measured
values, compliance with legal and market specifications, and overall speed
and consistency. Fast, seamless integration between these two systems can be
guaranteed through an enterprise SOA approach that allows IT to expose
functionality responsible for uploading and downloading data as Web services.
You can also support the consistency check, replacement value creation, and
complex billing steps through Web services and integrate these steps into the
process in a flexible manner. In the final step of this example, the billing
system accesses relevant meter/consumption data now stored in the utility's
back-end systems to generate an invoice based on time of use.
As energy markets liberalize and governmental mandates force reforms, AMI
promises to help utilities stay competitive in ways that older metering and
data-exchange technologies simply cannot. But without a proper IT
infrastructure that enables utilities to implement and work with AMI in a
cost-effective manner, utilities will find it difficult to deliver the
flexible pricing options that the market demands. The data management and
real-time communication requirements of AMI require greater communication and
collaboration between customer and utility ' and far greater interoperability
for systems both within the utility's IT landscape and across enterprise
boundaries. To succeed, in other words, AMI requires the support of a
powerful, highly adaptive IT infrastructure.
SAP for Utilities solutions that
are powered by the SAP NetWeaver platform and leverage enterprise SOA can
help you introduce AMI and innovative business processes to help improve
sales and customer service performance. SAP® software can support your AMI
initiative so that you can make customer service more cost-effective, automate
the exchange of data within your business networks, and ultimately optimize
your revenues and market demand. By enabling your organization to expose
existing application and infrastructure components as Web services, the SAP
NetWeaver platform makes integration easier, faster, and more cost-effective.
Using open standards, your organization will be able to collaborate with its
customers in support of AMI-related processes and deliver the real-time
information that today's market and regulatory mandates demand.
SAP for Utilities
The industry solution portfolio SAP for Utilities employs
more than 30 years of industry experience to deliver true end-to-end
process support through vital utilities-specific business domains. SAP for
Utilities solutions drive business and market standardization with more
flexibility for regulatory changes, leveraging enterprise SOA and the SAP
NetWeaver platform. More than 1,000 electricity, gas, and water utilities in
70 countries run SAP software.
To learn more about how SAP
can help you on the road to a more-flexible, service-based IT infrastructure
' one that meets the emerging demands for smart metering and AMI ' call your
SAP representative today or visit us online at www.sap.com/utilities.