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Utility road map touted

SAP unveiled a plan to boost the functionality of its software suite aimed at utility companies.

SAP is unveiling a plan to integrate its NetWeaver application platform with business intelligence tools in future...

versions of its software suite aimed at utility companies.

SAP for Utilities is being highlighted at the Fifth SAP International Utilities Conference 2005 this week in Vienna, Austria.

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SAP has had a strong foothold on the utility industry with its enterprise resource planning software suite. SAP for Utilities is an industry specific version with functionality built in for power generation firms, water suppliers and other public and private utility management firms.

SAP said future versions of the suite will take advantage of its strategy for a services-oriented architecture. They will add new levels of business flexibility to customers by enabling them to expose and fully leverage Web services, SAP said in a press release.

A road map being unveiled at the conference takes into account the latest market conditions and future projections in the industry.

Deregulation requirements such as "unbundling," could affect organizational structures, business processes and IT systems, according to SAP. As early as 2007, utilities in the European Union and other countries around the world must meet regulatory requirements to separate their previously "bundled" generation, distribution and retail operations.

The software allows utility vendors to customize data exchange between companies and adapt workflow processes, such as supplier switch, reconciliation and settlement, and payment processing. When a customer switches from one utility to another, the disparate applications supporting individual processes, such as meter reading, billing and reconciliation, can be rearranged according to a new process flow, SAP said.

SAP said its suite will allow utilities to quickly respond to market conditions by rearranging workflows and their underlying applications.

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