Over one million people in Belgium receive clean drinking water from Ghent-based utility company Farys. The organization manages wastewater infrastructure, water safety monitoring, and sports infrastructure for various municipalities. With a wide variety of business activities and focus on sustainability, Farys succeeds by adopting cutting-edge technology to drive socially responsible operations.
Farys’ business and sustainability transformation was the focus of a recent LinkedIn Live roundtable discussion, “How and Where to Use SAP Business Technology Platform.” Moderated by Maribel Lopez, CEO of Lopez Research, the session featured Inge Opreel, CIO of Farys, and Aneesha Shenoy, COO of SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).
Farys started its platform journey several years ago when – like many utility companies around the world – Opreel begun implementing smart meters. This project resulted in a huge influx of data, but most employees were unable to access or easily use this information.
Moreover, the company had a complex IT landscape with on-premise and cloud-based applications and needed to monitor processes throughout the layers.
That’s when Opreel began the search for a technology platform. “We needed a cloud platform that could integrate data and business apps into a single source of truth, perform extensive analytics, and introduce innovative technologies,” said Opreel.
Farys was familiar with SAP BTP, having used it to build its self-service customer portal, which resulted in lower costs and increased customer satisfaction. However, the key strength the platform brought was through SAP Integration Suite and data management capabilities.
“We needed to access data, analyze it, and integrate it back into our systems,” said Opreel. With SAP BTP, Farys can obtain meter indexes, view water volumes used, receive alerts, and use water usage data to build new services for its customers.
Moving forward, Opreel wants to use the platform to help Farys become more sustainable by addressing water scarcity, which is an ever-increasing problem due to climate change. Using data from its smart meters, Farys can improve its understanding of water inflows and outflows – and pinpoint where and why water losses occur via leaks, fraud, or other means.
Farys’ reasons for evaluating SAP BTP resonated with Shenoy. “It’s exciting to see how the platform enables Farys to realize its purpose – whether it’s innovating new business models to generate new revenue streams or helping achieve the top, bottom, and green lines,” said Shenoy.
Shenoy highlighted other instances where a platform strategy is a critical business enabler. First, with so much sociopolitical instability, companies need the ability to do integrated, enterprise-wide planning, which can analyze data across multiple lines of business. SAP BTP lets companies use that information to create business simulations and conduct predictive planning while connected to live, real-time data – helping executives to make better-informed decisions.
Second, as companies move IT systems to the cloud they need to “lift and shift” on-premise data easily. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud acts a bridge so companies can bring data with them, without having to build a data warehouse from scratch.
Third, Shenoy said companies want to democratize application development. “We can help replace complex software development with easy drag-and-drop, low-code/no-code software,” said Shenoy. “We accelerate the development process and enable anyone to create applications on their own.”
How to Develop a Successful Platform Strategy
Opreel advises when companies select a platform, they need to start by thinking big. “Have a big scope in mind and develop a holistic view about where you want to go in the future,” said Opreel. “Platforms contain so many components, having that perspective will help you think architecturally and put the right set up in place for your current and future use cases.”
Next, she recommends that companies start with smaller projects that organizations can learn from. For Farys, the first use cases centered on harnessing Big Data generated by smart meters. But this approach was new and Opreel’s team helped shift employees’ mindsets from managing smaller data volumes to considering the new opportunities provided by advanced data management and analytics. “Show your business units what benefits are possible with the power of data by giving examples and advice,” said Opreel.
But the real value comes once an organization moves beyond proof-of-concept projects to embedding the new technology in daily processes. “It’s important that everyone from management to field workers can use the technology,” said Opreel. “The right platform can transform your organization once it’s integrated with your ERP and other cloud systems.”
Farys’ platform strategy has changed how the company views innovation. “It has enabled us to level up our innovation approach,” said Opreel. “Rather than individual business units driving innovation independently, our comprehensive platform strategy has encouraged everyone to view it as a broad innovation platform on which to share ideas.”
To learn more, watch the replay.