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"ICT has helped us in empowering our consumers while providing transparency throughout" - Karanbir Singh, VP, IT and CIO, BSES

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The privatization of Delhi's power sector and unbundling of the Delhi Vidyut Board in July 2002, gave birth to BSES Rajdhani Power (BRPL), along with BSES Yamuna Power (BYPL). An associate company of Reliance Energy, BSES Rajdhani Power is mainly responsible for the distribution of power in an area spanning as many as 19 districts in and around Delhi. Spread over 750 km, with a population density of 1,360 persons per sq km, this capital powerhouse serves around 16.44 lakh consumers. The firm has invested over `4,500 crore on upgrading and augmenting the infrastructure, which has resulted in a record reduction of AT&C losses. From a high of 63% AT&C losses in BYPL area in 2002, the losses have come down to 19.8%-a record reduction of 43.3%. Proud to be a member of such a team, Karanbir Singh, VP, IT & CIO, BSES takes VOICE&DATA on a journey to the corporation's telecom set-up, that is one critical link in transforming this power distribution hub, an easy to access system for the masses. Excerpts-

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- Karanbir Singh

VP, IT and CIO, BSES

How important is the use of ICT for the energy industry and what are the tools and processes being used?

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ICT plays a very important role in the energy industry. ICT has many roles to play such as business support system, business process automation, revenue cycle management, operations support system, operation management system, distribution management system, power management system, load forecasting, demand side management, customer care/consumer relationship management, and loss reductions.

ICT helps in tracking revenue of company through M2C, ie, metering to cash within well-defined steps and processes with the help of ICT along with the reliable/uninterrupted power and customer care at all customer touch points. ICT can help in finding out unaccounted electricity.

Consumers are empowered to self help on hosts of services while giving transparency all through which establishes not only confidence and trust but brings in ownership. ICT has enabled many citizen-centric services like tracking status of requests/applications, online payments, etc.

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What are the top ICT challenges faced by the energy sector? And the key tech trends?

The energy and that too the electric energy is the most crucial of all for growth, progress, and development. This attains an utmost significance in the changing lifestyles putting enormous pressure due to increased expectations and aspirations. The power distribution is a critical ink in the chain in all and that had not been managed well due to political angle all around. The distribution companies are not only succumbing under mounted losses, but challenges to make run the fragile legacy infrastructure barely to take care of the present loads when future planning is a foregone mystery in the mist.

With all this being on the radar for the visibility of challenges, the present day menace like threat from terrorists and dubious elements play added devils' role. ICT comes as savior under all these challenges if there is a long-term vision.

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How does automation at each level help in increased efficiency and increased revenue for the company?

The IT applications are spread all across functions including administrative activities, legal, reception, business including metering, remote meter reading, automated meter reading, billing, customer care/customer services, outage management system, power management, load forecasting, call center, and dispatches in an integrated fashion. This makes our working integrated and brings closer all distributed as well as diverging functions. This is rarely visible in utilities across globe and we are amongst few unique sites to illustrate this very resolve. Today, the customers' issues are resolved effectively and efficiently through IT apps/tools and this has made possible to not only finish work on daily basis, but also take futuristic planning. Any customer's complaint/request can be tracked transparently making customer within reach to approach.

How does integrated ICT help the energy industry? Of these, what solutions have been deployed and what do you intend to deploy further?

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We have deployed most required technologies and technological tools in complete integration. We have started recognizing technological criticality for managing the distribution operations as well as maintenance of the grid and accordingly have started system-wide deployment. The time is now to extract maximum out of them all, thus working more and more towards customer-centric globally accepted best practices. The demand side management with smart load forecasting as well as management and smart grids would still hold lot of potential and we would continue exploring these areas.

For better management and energy, power industries need to connect with their branch offices, remote offices, and their international operations. How are you doing it?

We have technology-driven services by empowering people to be creative and productive. This has been possible through leveraging IT in the entire spectrum of business operations.

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When hosts of aligned applications are available in complete integration, a robust IT infra becomes a key to the success including data center, handhelds, mobile devices, tabs, PC, servers, network, and telecommunication in a high availability and disaster mode.

We have connected all our 412 office with varieties of modes like MPLS, LL, 3G, RF, and VSAT.

Have you opted for outsourcing in ICT? If so, which are the areas?

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We have opted for selectively outsourcing of ICT with utmost care while keeping most critical functions in full control. The outsourced areas include support services of hardware and applications. Now we have a framework, moving on application development outsourcing. We have moved very carefully on outsourced front and that has worked very well so far.

Has your company deployed mobile applications both for internal working as well as for your partners?

We have deployed mobile applications in the metering for handhelds, information collaboration up to middle level and MIS for the senior management. There are some customer-centric mobile applications in testing stage for incorporation shortly.

There is a lot of pressure on CIOs to reduce costs on IT. What are the strategies you have planned for your company?

A lower cost to serve as well as lower cost of operation would always be a great concern and this is to be controlled on a continuous basis. The manpower cost will continue increasing as the skill sets become critical. There is no point to hover around this, thus other areas have to be explored including consolidation as well as automation of IT system and processes.

We do this on a regular basis to hammer out running costs of maintenance, telecoms, or the outsourced services and take up consolidations of servers, power devices, cooling devices, and diverged services.

What is the investment planned for ICT in FY12 and the forecast for FY13?

We would take up high-impact areas vis-à-vis global best practices to review where we stand such as power management system, load forecasting, materials management, demand side management, and plant maintenance. Our ICT infra review is a constant process with a long-term prospective and we consolidate this too.

We have had least budget escalations y-o-y basis due to our constant cost review process. The FY12 ICT investment had been `20.6 crore and likely to stay the same in the next year, with the increased manpower cost and some service levels as we would hammer out other areas.

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