I had the opportunity this past week to catch-up with Gopi Krishnan, Practice Lead, Supply Chain Management at Infosys Technologies.  Gopi is a periodic contributor of guest postings on this blog, and I always look forward to speaking and exchanging insights regarding global supply chain related process and technology developments with him.

The IBM Pulse 2011 conference kicks off today in Las Vegas, and Infosys is one of the designated Gold sponsors.  The Infosys exhibition booth will be # G305. (Disclosure: Infosys is one of other featured sponsors to this blog) .

Gopi will be delivering a talk addressing smarter asset management and was gracious enough to speak with Supply Chain Matters on interesting and important topics related to today’s asset management and supply chain needs.

 

Question: I noticed that your presentation involves smarter asset management in the energy and utilities industry.  The abstract indicates that traditional asset management is reaching end-of-life, and that the new focus is on interoperability and compliance.  Could you elaborate on what is meant by true enterprise capabilities in EAM?

Gopi noted that technology needs for enterprise asset management (EAM) are changing, and firms need to consider what are the true “enterprise capabilities” needs in asset management.  Today, many asset-intensive firms have profiled asset management technology either as:

  • Single best-of-breed application;
  • Core ERP module or application;
  • Another best-of-breed application at division or business unit level;
  • Custom built application.

An important consideration is that many of the older existing implementations are not enterprise capable and provide little standardization in accommodating and integrating enterprise-wide information needs. They may be locally installed with little ability to provide a global or corporate-wide view of assets, or asset-related process needs. This leads to challenges in the ability to assess asset up-time on a global basis.  Gopi observed that while many firms term their EAM implementations as global, by and large, it turns out to be local in capability. While companies note that they currently have 80-85% overall asset utilization today, it may not be enough to satisfy needs to be industry competitive.

A further aspect is that current asset management users primarily utilize work management functions, but today’s EAM applications enable integration to procurement and inventory management needs as well. An enterprise class EAM application allows firms to assess and manage efficiencies along with centralized procurement and inventory management practices.

 

Question: Could you briefly describe the Infosys SCM consulting resource capabilities specifically focused on EAM?

Gopi noted that Infosys entered the asset management area back in 2001, primarily in a project based focus, as opposed to a practice capability. The project involved a European based telecom provider. It wasn’t until 2005, after a number of significant projects, that Infosys began to evolve a practice capability. When MRO was taken over by IBM in 2006, the relationship with and capabilities involving IBM technology expanded.

In Gopi’s travels, many clients and prospects ask him why is asset management included under the SCM practice umbrella? His answer is that similar to a standard ERP application deployed in an asset-intensive company, if you were to theoretically add functions of financial and human resources management to today’s asset management technology such as IBM’s Maximo, you would have capabilities to manage many supply-chain and operational wide needs for asset, procurement and inventory management. There are aspects for mobility needs, safety stocks and other operational management process needs as well.  He indicated that Infosys supply chain consultants similarly have experience in SCM applications such as Sterling Commerce and JDA Software, which although different, are just as applicable to a successful Maximo implementation. Today, the practice has many business, functional and technical consultants working on upgrades, migrations or full deployments.

Gopi also believes that EAM applications are the most complex to master.  He explains that there are two consulting competencies to consider. The vertical industry uniqueness in business process enablement needs are very strong across different vertical industries. How EAM is deployed in asset intensive manufacturing is very different than utilities or retail based industry.  The processes are different, the asset types are similarly different with different requirements for supporting business process requirements such as mobility.  Secondly, the consultant needs to have depth in the three facets of EAM:

  • Core MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul), as it applies to capital asset management.
  • Facilities management which could include aspects of HVAC, mechanical, carpentry and electrical characteristics. A lot of banks and insurance companies utilize these characteristics.
  • IT services management.  The reason IBM placed Maximo under the Tivoli management umbrella was the ability to provide for the effective management of all kinds of assets, including IT.  That differentiates Maximo from other applications that may only excel in one of the above areas. The IBM approach is to view any asset as an asset is an asset, and users should be able to remotely manage and account for that asset.

The buyer centers for each of these three facets are also different notes Gopi, and the consultant needs to be able to understand and translate buyer needs across all of these facets.

This concludes part one of our interview commentary.  In our part two posting, we will share thoughts from Gopi on the changing perspectives of supply chain and IT executives regarding current supply chain technology initiatives, so stay tuned.

In the mean time, please feel free to share in the Comments section, what you feel are your organization’s more difficult challenges related to smarter asset management.

Bob Ferrari

Full Disclosure: Infosys Technologies is one of other paid sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog.