Full steam ahead!

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The pressure is on: energy companies have to reorganise parts of their operations if they want to participate in or help drive the transformation of their industry. Two experts from energy provider ENTEGA and Stadtwerke Düsseldorf explain how Aareon can support this process.

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf (a municipal utility) has to deal with 20,000 tenant relocations every year, reported via a wide range of channels: e-mail, fax, letter and phone. Its employees need around ten min­utes to enter the associated data manually into the system. That’s some 3,333 hours of typing every year. “It would be great to be able to spend this time on more complex tasks,” says Eckart Birkenkamp, Head of Sales for the Housing and Property Sector at Stadtwerke Düsseldorf. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that this manual processing is prone to error and necessitates subsequent corrections.

If it takes ten minutes to enter one set of relocation data manually into the system at Stadtwerke Düsseldorf, 20,000 relocations amount to 3,333 hours of extra typing every year. This valuable time can be saved through the use of automated processes.

The immense pressure under which companies are operating also has to be considered. The energy sector is currently undergoing sig­nificant transformation.

“For instance, we have been handed a new role as a result of the German Act on the Digitalisation of the Energy Transition (Gesetz zur Digitalisierung der Energie­wende). The compulsory installation of smart meters is transforming us from network operators and energy sellers into meter operators,”

says Birkenkamp. “And that necessitates major adjustments to our IT systems. What’s more, our core business is fiercely competitive: Germany’s 1,300 electricity providers are conducting a price war that is resulting in ever-declining margins.” Companies are consequently having to reinvent themselves. On the one hand, this means that they have to work more efficiently, while on the other, they are looking to expand their portfolios and offer new, future-oriented energy services.

“Growing demands and the associated increasing complexity have to be tackled by automating more tasks. This is the only way we can adapt to customer requirements and achieve cost efficiency,”

stresses Ralf Weirich, Head of Sales for Business Customers at ENTEGA.

A smart meter is an intelligent measurement system consisting of two elements: the digital electricity meter and a communication module for data transmission. It reads the meter, and saves and processes the data. Meter operators are responsible for its installation, operation and maintenance, and transmit the data to energy suppliers and network operators. The smart meter will replace the analogue measurement system.

This is where Aareon’s wealth of experience in digitalisation issues and cross-industry solutions comes into its own. Its new change man­agement solution networks housing companies, utilities and meter reading service providers, optimising time-consuming and error-prone manual vacant property management considerably. The housing company employee makes an entry in the ERP system and everything else follows automatically. The portal forwards the required data in the right format in good time – for contract takeover or invoicing information purposes. In addition, the meter reading service provider benefits from regular master data match-up relating to apartment and tenant data, with meter data also being exchanged at the apartment handover stage. All three parties involved in the process save time, have fewer problem cases to deal with and achieve greater transparency.

  The “Cross industries” article contains further details on Aareon change management.

These benefits convinced both Stadtwerke Düsseldorf and ENTEGA that Aareon’s vacancy management solution was the way forward. Both companies integrated the solution in their systems as pilot customers, and these systems are gradually going live with the first customers from the property sector.

“It’s the right step to take in this age of digital transformation and will simplify our customers’ processes too,”

says Birkenkamp. Not only do these win-win solutions help utilities with their customer support, but they give them a real competitive edge, according to the expert: “We already use the Aareon invoicing service and Aareal Bank’s BK01 immoconnect service for integrated payment transactions on the credit side, and have found that large housing companies specify this particular solution as a prerequisite for the exchange of data in their invitations to tender.”

private and industrial customers
are provided with electricity, gas, district heat, drinking water and waste management services by Stadtwerke Düsseldorf.

Weirich adds: “ENTEGA has been collaborating successfully with Aareon and its parent company Aareal Bank for years and has already acted as a pilot partner in a number of different projects. We’re delighted to be able to further optimise our vacant property management in particular with Aareon’s vacancy management solution, and to offer our customers from the property sector a service that reduces administrative and other expenses considerably.”

Eckart Birkenkamp is Head of Sales for the Housing and Property Sector at Stadtwerke Düsseldorf..
Photo: Stadtwerke Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
Ralf Weirich is Head of Sales for Business Customers at ENTEGA.
Photo: Entega Energie GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany

Anke Morlath, Head of Department at Aareon’s EVU Competence Center, is also convinced of the added value generated by the product. She is seeing an extremely high level of interest in Aareon change management and in solutions for combined use:

“There is no other comparable product currently on the market that networks the various partners to a similar extent and digitalises the process so comprehensively.”

She is also regularly contacted by customers from the property sector asking whether the new solution can be extended to incorporate other players, such as local authorities, disposal utilities or key services. It is something that has long been considered by Morlath and her colleagues.

Another important aspect for Aareon is the transfer of knowledge to other national markets. But a note of caution is sounded here: “The regulatory conditions in the energy sector differ widely in the various countries, which is why we have put the internationalisation of our change management on the back burner,” says Morlath. “For the time being, at least.”

Aareon – Digital concept
for the energy sector

Aareon provides solutions to optimise processes for the utility sector and its partners in the digital age. These wide-ranging solutions include a broad portfolio of standard to customised offerings for change management, market communication, customer service, retention and acquisition, device management, meter reading, invoicing and receivables management. Aareon benefits from having the right partners in its own Aareon Group: the parent company Aareal Bank’s BK01 process is a proven solution for payment transactions which can be integrat­ed into the overall process by Aareon. Aareon subsidiary phi-Consulting has been advising companies in the energy sector on how to optimise their business processes and system flows, with the focus on the SAP® environment, for many years. To all this can be added the offering of BauSecura Versicherungsmakler GmbH, in which Aareon holds a 51-per-cent stake. The combined know-how of the partners and their long-standing experience in the industry are put to good use in supporting the energy sector in its digitalisation efforts.

Anke Morlath is the head of the EVU Competence Centre at Aareon and oversees the solution portfolio for the energy supply industry. She is also the managing director of phi-Consulting GmbH.
Photo: Aareon AG, Mainz, Germany