The energy market is characterized by major societal trends and technological advancements. Complex and dynamic market demands require utilities to be efficient, agile and innovative. To succeed long-term in this ultra-competitive environment, companies need to develop efficient ways of working, as well as differentiators that help them stand out from competitors.
Observing these trends and technological developments, Kelag – one of Austria’s largest utilities – quickly stepped into action, scouring its business to identify potential efficiencies. Its search spawned the idea to automate routine processes to free up employees to make the best use of their time.
To bring its idea to life, Kelag chose to work with SmartCAP IT-Solutions and other vendors to deploy Kofax Kapow™ robotic process automation (RPA) solutions.
Cornelia Kowatsch, Team Coordinator for Finance Management in Kelag’s Middle- and Back-office, explained, “We selected Kofax and SmartCAP IT-Solutions based on our previous positive experience of using these vendors in other areas of our business, such as in our digital mailroom project. In addition, the proposal from Kofax and SmartCAP IT-Solutions came in at an attractive price.”
As a first use-case, Kelag worked with SmartCAP IT-Solutions to automate data entry into its SAP ERP applications using Kofax Kapow. Specifically, Kelag built a robot that keys complete information from bank statements from its domestic subsidiaries directly into SAP ERP.
Margareta Schliesser-Slanic, Coordinator of the RPA Competency Center at Kelag, remarked, “Desktop automation is a powerful way to free employees from routine tasks.” Cornelia Kowatsch continued, “By automating data entry into our SAP ERP finance application, we save valuable time that our highly skilled accountants can now spend on other tasks.”
The excellent results achieved by automating SAP data entry provided a springboard for Kelag to explore the potential of robotics in other areas. After promoting its success in the SAP use-case internally, Kelag’s RPA Competency Center arranged an internal robotics workshop for managers who displayed an interest in participating.
At the workshop, SmartCAP IT-Solutions demonstrated the capabilities of Kofax Kapow and asked each participant to think of processes in their departments that could be streamlined using RPA. Kelag and SmartCAP IT-Solutions gathered the results and selected the most promising ideas for further investigation.
Taking up a suggestion from the sales and marketing teams, Kelag’s RPA Competency Center turned its attention to pricecomparison websites, which are designed to help consumers choose energy providers. Users submit information such as energy consumption, location, type of house or apartment, number of bedrooms and number of occupants. The website then obtains quotes from multiple providers and lists them in ascending price order. There is intense competition for the top spots, as consumers are significantly more likely to purchase energy from these utilities.
As energy providers jostle for position, sales and marketing departments frequently check their company’s rankings. Employees typically enter data into several price-comparison websites using multiple sample profiles, making the task very time-consuming. SmartCAP IT-Solutions helped Kelag build a robot that keys in information from sample user profiles, obtains quotes, checks Kelag’s ranking and sends the information to interested parties – all without human intervention.
By automating routine tasks using RPA, Kelag is unlocking significant time savings for staff and enabling them to focus on other work.
Margareta Schliesser-Slanic continued, “Our sales and marketing teams used to spend multiple person-hours checking our ranking on price-comparison websites. Thanks to Kofax Kapow and SmartCAP IT-Solutions, those employees now have more time to spend on other activities. It’s a similar story in the accounting department, as automating data entry into SAP saves the team between 10 and 15 minutes per day.
“Employees have warmly welcomed the Kofax Kapow solutions, because they can work more efficiently and hand off repetitive tasks to the robots.”
In future, Kelag plans to build on its success by deploying RPA in other areas. For instance, the company is exploring possibilities to automate the generation and email distribution of reports regularly used by staff. For example, this could be reports regarding how many consumers change their energy supplier.
Margareta Schliesser-Slanic concluded, “The intense competition in the energy market shows no signs of cooling. We believe that robotic process automation from Kofax Kapow acts as a powerful differentiator to help us maintain our strong position in a turbulent market.”