4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/21/2013
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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd Eskom increases productivity and mobility with Microsoft touch and enterprise solutions.

Established by the South African government in 1923, Eskom – formerly known as the Electricity Supply Commission (ESCOM), is the country’s only state owned utilities supplier.

Widely acknowledged as one of the top twenty electricity generators in the world in terms of output capacity, Eskom is responsible for producing, storing and conveying 95 percent of electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45 percent of Africa’s total energy volume.

As a public entity, Eskom is funded and managed by the South African government. In turn, the organisation is required to maintain key electricity generation plants including the Koeberg nuclear power station in the Western Cape and the coal-fired Kendal power station in the province of Mpumulanga.

Uninterrupted service delivery and the timeous rollout of strategic capacity growth plans also fall into Eskom’s ongoing scope of responsibility.

Challenge

Electricity generation is dependent on the operation and maintenance of many geographically disparate facilities. With several plants and delivery mechanisms scattered across South Africa Eskom is amongst the most dispersed of the country’s publicly owned enterprises.

Historically, this reality has made ongoing productivity and communication difficult to achieve for many Eskom executives. With so much time spent at remote locations, keeping in touch with staff and key deliverables is often a challenging assignment.

Although the company had endeavored to implement technology solutions to remove this obstacle, most were found to be ineffective or cumbersome.

Furthermore, many Eskom executives were beginning to request access to enterprise level applications via tablet or smartphone devices. Although this provided an elegant solution to the challenge of mobility, these offerings could not offer the data security and compliance required by a state owned entity.

Solution

In late 2012 Eskom’s technical department, in partnership with the organisation’s formal IT solutions partner – T Systems, began searching for a potential alternative.

After rigorous testing, the collaborative identified a Microsoft powered tablet platform as the most fitting platform to equip over five hundred Eskom executives with a mobile workstation that would meet their personal preferences while reducing the need for paper based communications.

After selecting the Samsung ATIV 700T tablet as the primary device, the implementation team set out to identify the requisite software to empower Eskom’s management layer.

For daily tasks, email and document processing Eskom and T Systems - with assistance from Microsoft South Africa, selected Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013 as the most fitting platform.

According to Sean Maritz, Head of Enterprise Strategy and Innovation at Eskom, this choice was motivated by the need for an operating system and business applications that were developed with a touch interface in mind.

“Our decision to opt for Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013 was based on these platforms capacity for touch integration. At Eskom we apply a ‘one device per individual’ approach – so we knew that the tablet PCs supplied to our executive staff needed to be intuitive and user friendly. We had the processing capacity and storage within the Samsung ATIV 700T but we needed the software. Microsoft’s solutions proved the most capable in every respect”.

To provide uniformity and security, Eskom opted for Microsoft System Centre 2012 – an integrated management platform that helps clients to simply and efficiently control data centres, devices and client devices.

“Microsoft System Centre 2012 made it possible for our executives to access essential information in a secure and efficient manner. It also helped us realise our goal of a less paper reliant corporate environment”, adds Maritz.

“By applying this technology we were able to confidently manage remote device usage while reducing reliance on meeting notes and physical documentation. This has made it possible for all Eskom executives to keep up to date with essential internal elements whilst on the road or at site inspections”.

Benefits

Eskom has experienced several tangible benefits since it equipped five hundred key executives with Microsoft powered tablet devices in March 2013.

Chiefly, these include an increase in employee availability at a senior level, says Maritz.

“Our executives are certainly more mobile than they were before. By affording them an intuitive and powerful touch solution they have found keeping up with essential requirements more fluid and easy to achieve. We believe that the integration of gesture based elements within Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013 are central to this success”.

Furthermore, Eskom has reduced its reliance on paper-based communications by making key documents available to its management layer via Microsoft System Centre 2012.

“Prior to rolling out this solution Eskom’s executives were carrying up to one kilogram of paper into meetings. This was simply impractical. The introduction of a tablet solution facilitated by Microsoft System Centre 2012 and Microsoft SharePoint has significantly reduced our reliance on physical communication. Today the majority of our employees simply carry their tablets with them at all times”.
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