InformationWeek 500: Energy And Utility Companies Power Up Using Hands-Off Tactics

Two companies improve business processes with RF mesh and SaaS.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Senior Writer, InformationWeek

September 11, 2008

2 Min Read

Automation is a top priority at energy and utility companies. In fact, 76% of them are using IT to up business process efficiency.

Pacific Gas & Electric, for one, is automating various processes to improve customer service. PG&E's SmartMeter and Smart Grid programs use radio frequency mesh--a data communication and collection technology--to monitor over 120,000 miles of electric lines for problems and to provide customers with rate plans that give them incentives to use energy during off-peak times.

Each RF mesh device is a wireless network repeater, similar to what people have in their offices, says Eugene Park, PG&E's senior director of application services. You blanket a territory, attaching the devices to stationary or mobile objects. When the devices see each other, they pass information upstream or downstream.



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Similarly, enriched uranium supplier USEC wants to automate business processes to optimize efficiency. It's particularly looking at software-as-a-service offerings that are a "great fit for business processes that are self-contained" such as some HR processes, and that don't require a lot of integration with other applications, legacy systems, or business processes, says CIO David Vordick. If USEC moves to SaaS, it will have plenty of company. Fifty-nine percent of companies in the sector say they use Web-only apps.

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About the Author(s)

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Senior Writer, InformationWeek

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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