Kearns discusses the essential character aspects of a consultant, getting over the 18-month mark and the changing dynamic of women’s roles in the utility industry.
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UMC: Triniti is a relatively new company, what kind of atmosphere are you trying to cultivate since your founding in 2014?
Beth Kearns: Triniti is comprised of some of the smartest and hardest working people in our industry and we’re very focused on what we do. We provide technology strategy, consulting and implement the metering solution offered by Oracle Utilities. Although we’re a newly formed company, many of our employees have worked together either directly or remotely for more than 10 years. Our team is highly driven, extremely experienced, and we all work very well together. We’ve hand-selected the best consultants in the business. Our focus on providing everyone a challenging and dynamic working environment, flexibility, responsibility and the autonomy to make decisions is essential to keeping people excited. People being excited about their work is the key to getting the job done well, so that is the atmosphere we are working tirelessly to cultivate at Triniti.
UMC: Your core values are character, competence, and commitment; how do these aspects of a person’s character exemplify an ideal consultant?
Beth Kearns: It is Triniti’s belief that these characteristics are not only essential in creating an ideal consultant, but absolutely necessary in building a highly driven and successful team. These attributes are often not fully developed or realized in junior consultants. This is exactly the reason Triniti typically has thus far pursued the most seasoned individuals that have proven character, competence and commitment within the marketplace. As we move forward, grow our company and bring on new employees, our seasoned consultants will lead by example, reinforcing that focus.
Character ensures our consultants will act with honesty and integrity. Our consultants are competent in working with our clients to identify the right-sized solutions to solve their business needs, knowledge of the industry to drive requirements, and the technical know-how to implement a solution that is technically accurate, follows best practices, and performs for our clients. Finally, commitment to our clients, partners and each other ensures success at everything we do.
Identifying these characteristics in everyone we bring on board ensures our clients always get an experienced “A-team” for their project – whether it’s big or small.
UMC: There is speculation that more than 60 percent of Americans will be working from home by the year 2018. What is your office dynamic like? Do most of your employees work from the office or remotely?
Beth Kearns: We tend to be dynamic to meet our clients’ changing needs. However, since our employee base has an average experience of 10 years in the industry, we find it is not mandatory to have them on the road 100 percent of the time. This is often negotiated with our clients in order to assure them that the experienced resources we offer are the very best for the task at hand. Having said that, it is important to us that our employees have a work life balance and that ties in with the need for flexible travel schedules. When not on a client site, everyone generally works from home. This makes the team happier, allows a little flexibility with their home/work life balance, and keeps overhead costs low so we don’t need to pass that on to our clients.
UMC: What is an average day for one of your employees?
Beth Kearns: This can range from employee to employee, it all depends on what role they are fulfilling and for what project. Ultimately, we are here to serve our clients to the best of our abilities and ensure that their project is a success. That could mean a full day of on- or off-site meetings, documentation, heads-down configuration of the applications, training, testing, or any mix of those activities depending on the project stage. Additionally, we’re a very flat organization and everyone contributes to the overall running and decision-making of the business as a whole. This also enables our teams to react and make decisions quickly since there aren’t multiple layers of decision-making authority.
UMC: You’ve been working in all things Oracle Utilities for a long time now. In your experience what sets the Oracle Utilities products apart from the other technologies offered in the market?
Beth Kearns: There are so many things that set Oracle Utilities applications apart from other technologies, but I think the two most important reasons right now are Oracle Utilities’ vision and ability to execute. Oracle Utilities was again highlighted as a leader in Gartner’s December 2015 Magic Quadrant for Meter Data Management with an additional increase in their Vision position from 2014. With respect to their ability to execute, Oracle Utilities’ recent launch of Service Order Management is the integration of all integrations within their application suite – which sets them apart from other vendors in the marketplace.
Oracle Utilities offers the most complete solution suite in the industry, and no other leading software vendor offers both an MDM and a CIS solution, much less outage management, mobile workforce management, etc. Oracle Utilities can manage the business from end to end, either on-premises or in the cloud. Oracle Utilities continues to identify market needs and then provides robust solutions to meet them, so that implementers like Triniti can provide right-sized implementations and training to meet customers’ needs.
Maybe a more important question to ask is “Why is Oracle Utilities able to execute and how have they defined their vision?” Some MDM vendors are not true software vendors, but rather hardware vendors selling software. Others are true MDM software vendors that often only develop an MDM and have the trouble of not understanding how to simplify the integration issues between MDM and other key enterprise applications such as CIS or an outage system. Oracle Utilities delivers not only best of breed applications, but a fully integrated solution. Finally, Oracle has a long standing history in the utility business, both the CIS and MDM applications have been around for over a decade and have been re-platformed and enhanced based on feedback from early customers. Other companies are re-platforming their solutions now to keep up with technology and market demands. For example, there is no VEE rule that can’t be built in MDM. The most complex use cases from around the world have often been rolled into their base products, based on decades of experience in the industry.
UMC: Any plans on developing your own software down the line? Just theoretically, if you were to offer your own product what would it entail?
Beth Kearns: We’re definitely already busy building out additional accelerators and templates to further speed up implementations of various Oracle Utilities products, for both our on-premises customers and those who wish to subscribe to applications in the cloud. Oracle’s Software as a Service (SaaS) offering of Meter Data Management is really right-sized for small to medium utilities looking to roll out an Advanced Metering Infrastructure or utilities replacing a failed MDM for which they were heavily invested, and we are creating collateral that can further reduce the time to implement and overall cost to utilities.
As far as our own software, we will just have to wait and see….
UMC: What are your current clients biggest pain points? Which technological solution seems to make the biggest difference in solving those pain points?
Beth Kearns: The biggest issues our customers are facing is the growing volume of their meter data and the ability to provide analytics on top of that data. When Meter Data Management solutions were first introduced the true magnitude of the amount of data that would be stored was not fully known. With more complex devices and the ability to store more channels of data even on residential housing, the amount of storage required for our customers is increasing at a dramatic rate. This ties back into why we prefer working with Oracle Utilities. Several of our customers are looking into Oracle Utilities Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) solution. This would allow their metering solution to move historic data from high performance drives down to lesser storage based on a set of business logic. Additionally, Oracle Utilities offers multiple analytics solutions with products like Oracle DataRaker and Oracle Utilities Analytics, depending on the types of analytics a utility is looking to provide. While analytics capabilities did not play into Gartner’s ranking this past year, we believe it will in the future which will further set Oracle Utilities products apart from the competition.
Another big issue for our clients is integration and support of that integration. Historically, integrations are custom built, whether through a service bus or direct, and are not only costly to build, but costly to maintain. Depending on the technology chosen to build that integration, the skills could quickly become obsolete and a utility is stuck with one person or no one that understands how to maintain or modify that integration. Oracle Utilities is ahead of the game by solving that problem and providing productized, vendor-supported integrations between their suite of utility-focused products. This can significantly reduce the cost to implement and maintain these applications for utilities.
Again, Oracle Utilities’ vision and ability to execute are demonstrated by industry leading products meeting the newest customer challenges. They continue to make a large investment in understanding not only the current market but market trends and where the market is headed.
UMC: In the spirit of the New Year, what was your biggest hurdle in 2015? What was your proudest achievement?
Beth Kearns: Well, as a new company, we’ve had plenty of great learning opportunities for the entire team.
A couple of years ago Bloomberg reported that 80 percent of businesses fail within the first 18 months, we consider ourselves very fortunate and worked very hard to have overcome such a significant hurdle by banding together and creatively solving problems as a team. That partnership and teamwork has enabled us to make it through those first 18 months without any issues.
Secondly, our proudest achievement for 2015 was realized just over a week before the end of the year. We won the opportunity to implement a complete Oracle Utilities solution including Meter Data Management, Smart Grid Gateway, and Service Order Management, for a sizable gas and electric utility in the Northwest US. I believe the client chose us because of our clear and direct approach combined with the driven, experienced and personable team we put together. We are really excited to get started with this fantastic client in the next month!
UMC: Anything exciting happening in 2016, any New Year resolutions for Triniti worth mentioning?
Beth Kearns: With this new client engagement, we hope to be one of the first to go-live with an implementation of Oracle Utilities Service Order Management. That is extremely exciting for our entire team. With our strong Oracle Utilities relationship and our extensive experience implementing these solutions in this industry, we are confident we can make that implementation a success. Some companies focus strongly on the best candidates, others on culture fit – we’re excited to build complementary teams that focus on both. This strategy, as well as our hyper-focus on this market, makes us the best implementer for this type of project. We said it at the end of 2014 and we still believe it – the best is yet to come. We’re looking forward to whatever 2016 challenges us with!