The Manila Electric Company (Meralco)’s digital transformation is becoming a reality with the country’s largest power utility adopting new technologies to deliver enhanced customer experience and improve grid reliability.
This update was given by Meralco Chief Technology Advisor Gavin D. Barfield during the third Meralco Technology and Innovation Summit (MTECH) recently held at the power utility’s headquarters in Pasig City. Barfield’s keynote presentation dubbed ‘Journey to Tomorrow’ showed the audience what Meralco has achieved over the past few years as it looked to refresh its I.T. systems, deliver a digital customer experience and embark on the development of a “Smart Grid’.
“The dream of MTECH is to bring all this technology into Meralco.” – Meralco Chief Technology Advisor Gavin D. Barfield
“Meralco has invested heavily in new technologies as we undergo a digital transformation of our company. We will soon be launching a whole new digital customer experience more suited to the next generation of customers – the digital natives. We are also developing mobility solutions and adding more sensors, automation, and smart meters to our network to improve reliability and enable the integration of renewables,” he said.
Barfield added that, “We have made great progress but we cannot afford to stand still. Technology moves at a rapid pace and we must look at new disruptive technologies such as Blockchain, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Edge Computing, Robotics, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to deliver the next wave of improvements for our customers.”
MTECH 2017 also included FORGE, a cybersecurity competition that aims to measure the readiness and hone the cybersecurity defense skills of I.T. professionals. Held during the first two days of the summit, FORGE is aligned with Meralco Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan’s belief that there is a need to strengthen cybersecurity within the country. It provided participants hands-on experience of cyber-attacks based on real business scenarios.
Another highlight was the MTECH 2017 Booths and Exhibit showcased at the Meralco Lopez Building Lobby during the first three days of the event. The exhibit aimed to equip participants with a better understanding and appreciation of the power industry by bringing together different technology vendors from around the world to showcase the latest products and services.
Companies such as DellEMC, VMWare, Fujitsu, HPE Aruba, Indra, PCCW Solutions, Salesforce, Microsoft, NTT Data, Capgemini, GE, Schneider Electric, Trends and Technologies, Pazifik Power Inc., Hitachi, and Lenovo, enabled participants to try out the latest technologies including Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
Pocket sessions were held at the Meralco Mini Theater featuring speakers from local and globally-renowned tech firms who discussed new disruptive technologies and innovations, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by the utilities sectors and other companies in the new digital world.
Speakers at the event included representatives from CapGemini, IBM, Facebook, Gartner, Hitachi, CISCO, SAP, Pivotal, Consensys, NTT Data, HPE Aruba, and IPEC. In addition, Meralco showcased its latest innovations including the soon-to-be launched customer experience engine, new HR and collaboration tools, a new mobility solution for field crews, a new safety app and Artificial Intelligence chatbots. Meralco subsidiaries Customer Frontline Solutions (CFS), Radius and MServ were also at hand to highlight new products and services.
A student congregation dubbed as Young Engineers and Scientists Summit (YESS) also took place on the third day. Attended by senior high school and engineering students, YESS was intended to familiarize students with the new technologies and competencies of the future engineer and utility worker. The students listened to various presentations and got chance to visit the exhibit and test the latest Microsoft HoloLens Augmented Reality technology, navigating through a virtual substation.
Speaking at the end of the event Alfredo S. Panlilio, Meralco Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications, described Meralco’s drive into new technologies.
“The utility industry is changing and Meralco must adapt. We will continue our digital journey – expanding our products, services and solutions, and utilizing the latest technologies to deliver an enhanced level of service. We must remain relevant to the customers of tomorrow,” he said.