Change is a given in business, and in most cases companies can adapt to it by predicting its effects. But what do you do when you know that change will dramatically affect your business and you cannot forecast the full nature and scope of that change?
That’s the scenario currently facing China Light and Power (CLP), a utility based in Hong Kong. For years, CLP has seen small but steady growth, but deregulation coming in 2008 presents new challenges. The company expects that “unknown events” might hinder expansion plans or present unforeseen opportunity. One thing that CLP management knows for certain is that its ERP system needs to provide the company with the agility to react to any situation.
A long-time SAP customer, CLP decided that adopting a service-oriented architecture (SOA) was the best bet to achieve that agility. This meant an upgrade to mySAP ERP 2005 and SAP NetWeaver 2004s. By going with SAP’s state-of-the-art SOA platform now, the company reasoned, it would have the applications and processes in place before deregulation occurs. Users and support teams would have time to become familiar with the new system as well.
You might characterize CLP’s approach to adopting SOA as cautiously aggressive. The company is not afraid to try a new concept, but sets standards for performance and sticks to them. For example, CLP is one of the first companies to have a working Duet pilot program. The Duet pilot is small for now, but CLP hopes to expand the number of users and scenarios over time.
CLP is an example of how circumstance can drive a company into becoming an early adopter of new technology. It’s also an example of how forward thinking and good planning can mitigate the risk of being an early adopter.