5 Questions: Vanessa Edmonds, TMG Consulting Utility Forum 2017

TMG Consulting LogoVanessa Edmonds is a Vice President and Partner at TMG Consulting and serves as General Manager of the firm’s research practice, RIMSolutions™. In this “5 Questions” interview, she shares insights about the firms upcoming knowledge sharing event, the TMG Utility Forum.

Editor’s Note: Itineris is a member of TMG Consulting’s Research Community, as well as a sponsor of the TMG Consulting Utility Forum, October 25-27, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona, where some of our executives will be moderating sessions. Learn more or register here.

1. TMG has a long history guiding utilities through selection, acquisition and implementation of enterprise IT systems. In recent years, you’ve added a research practice, RIMSolutions™, and now the TMG Utility Forum.

What is the vision for how the Forum fits into the evolution of TMG as a consulting firm?

Our research practice, the TMG Utility Forum and our vendor programs are all tools for gathering and passing knowledge to clients faster.

This speed to knowledge is important given the rapid changes “disruptive” technologies, services and customer behaviors bring to our industry. The more tools we have for spreading knowledge, the better we can serve our clients and the industry as a whole.

For TMG Consulting, knowledge transfer is key to supporting utilities throughout the lifecycle of enterprise IT and edge systems.

Many utility professionals are vertically focused on their specific area of responsibility. TMG’s horizontal view of the industry allows us inform clients about near-future opportunities in the context of risks and the cross-departmental impacts of their projects. We also measure against best practices from more advanced, service-oriented industries so utilities understand where the bar is being set.

2. What are two value takeaways utility attendees can expect from the TMG Utility Forum?

Our event focus is “A 360-Degree View of the Customer Relationship and Supporting Technologies.” So, we are going to talk extensively about cloud opportunities, digital engagement, KPIs, change management and customer information systems.

Probably the most valuable takeaways for attendees will include:

  • Conversations 2.0 – We will address near-future developments, opportunities and risks that may not be on the radar for utilities yet, but should be.
  • Diverse perspectives – With an extremely rich agenda, conversation-friendly design and diverse group of presenters, attendees, industry vendors and cross-industry SMEs, topics will be addressed from multiple viewpoints.

We’ve intentionally kept the utility-to-vendor ratio high—over 60 percent utilities! Of those utility attendees, 60 percent represent IOUs and 40 percent represent municipalities. Their diverse perspectives will contribute to interesting discussions about what’s possible.

3. What speaker(s) or sessions are you most excited about?

The sessions were developed from our research into what utilities want to discuss and what they need to know about industry disruptors, so they are all relevant and choosing favorites is difficult.

That said, TMG’s CEO, Mario Bauer, will give an opening general session (October 25) on the “State of the Industry: Leading Disruptive Factors and Technologies.” He’ll share a lot of intel about the biggest issues utilities should be tracking, including:

  • Why disruptive factors and technologies are non-negotiable.
  • How and why the utility business is changing.
  • The most disruptive technologies and strategies for embracing change.

Much of what Mario will share isn’t yet part of mainstream industry conversations, but will be soon.

While cloud opportunities will be explored during several presentations, I am very excited about the “Panel Discussion: Approach to Addressing the Challenges of Cloud Adoption” on October 26.

Because so many aspects of the cloud are under debate, I am expecting a very lively discussion by executives from Itineris, Oracle Utilities, RIA Advisory and Vertex, along with a cloud leader from San Jose Water.

4. What trends in the IT and systems space are you hearing utilities talking about, and will these be covered at the Forum?

There are a lot of trends we are tracking and many will be featured at the Forum, so I encourage readers to attend (walk-ins are welcome) … but here are a few teasers:

  • The incredible shrinking industry. The number of utilities in North American is shrinking due to M&A. Learn why considering this as a possibility during IT system procurements, even if the future in uncertain, is a wise move for investor-owned utilities, especially.
  • How to protect the cloud. Find out why initial concerns about cloud security are becoming lessor- or non-issues and what utilities need to address next based on lessons learned from early adopters.
  • Should the customer always be king/queen? More and more, utilities feel that customers have complete control over the utility-to-customer relationship and that they must deliver “or else…” A behavior scientist will discuss why influencing customer behavior isn’t a lost art and share strategies for taking back some control.

5. What’s on the horizon for TMG Consulting? What should we all be on the lookout for?

At TMG Consulting, we are committed to evolving ahead of the industry. “We’ve always done it this way” thinking is inadequate when it comes to heightened and ongoing market disruption.

As a result, you will see us continue to add top talent in both research and consulting, make additions to our service portfolio, and continue listening … understanding the utility industry and its many players will always be a core focus for us.