Becoming Digital

A revolutionary change is underway as companies seek to transform digitally and fundamentally alter how they organize, operate and behave to deliver the most value to their customers, shareholders and employees. Today, consumers have already adopted digital practices in their daily lives, including shopping online from their mobile devices, operating their home security systems via mobile apps and remotely starting their vehicles with smart phones. These conveniences required innovation, technology and marketing to succeed. Companies that effectively make the digital transformation are more likely to deliver the experience consumers expect and win the battle for customer loyalty.

At AEP, we are building a collaborative mindset that sparks creativity and innovation – staying true to our heritage of innovation.

At AEP, we are learning what digital means for our company. As we plan for the future, we are changing the way we organize, behave and operate to remain competitive, better serve our customers and create sustainable value. This agile operating model gives us a place to test insights and develop valuable products, services and solutions for customers. This could mean abandoning long-standing business practices in order to create new and lasting value, enacting process efficiency improvements, digitizing the customer experience to seamlessly connect customer interactions across channels, and using predictive analytics to understand customer attributes and behaviors to develop the solutions and services they value most.

In some cases, digitization has already begun to grow organically at AEP. Examples of digital accomplishments include the modernization of our underground monitoring networks, the introduction of a customer mobile app and the creation of an app to give power plant managers real-time data to optimize how we operate and invest in our remaining coal fleet. In our workforce, we have established an Innovation Hub and continue to transform our culture to achieve the level of engagement we need because culture is foundational to our digital future.

Employees must be agile, willing to challenge the status quo to test new ideas and insights, and accept failure as part of success. Our progress toward a more engaged workforce is an enabler of this changing business dynamic. In preparation, we are undertaking strategic workforce planning as we learn more about the future of work – what the work will be and the skills that are needed to be successful.

For example, AEP developed and tested five process automations designed to make time-consuming manual tasks faster and easier. In one case, an automation solution has reduced the time spent on generating system IDs for new contractors by more than 90 percent. Typically 30 to 50 requests come in each day for these types of IDs, which required a manual process to assign them. Automating this process frees up people to do work that is more strategic to our business.

In another case, we are using automation to improve the customer experience. When a customer’s bill has something wrong with it, a manual review is required before the bill can be mailed. These bills were stored in the billing system, making it time consuming to find and address them. By automating the process, we can spend more time on reducing bill issues for customers instead of finding the work and then assigning it for resolution.

We are establishing a transition team to establish the digital operating model for AEP, which will include a governance structure to accelerate the scale of digital operations and solutions. Through digital, we will develop a portfolio of projects to remain competitive, better serve our customers and employees, and create sustainable value. By understanding the future of work, we can develop the skills and processes we will need to repeat successful solutions more quickly, reduce risk, strengthen our core business and evaluate new opportunities to improve the customer experience.

As we continue our culture transformation, we are creating opportunities for employees to stay curious, test ideas and innovate. We are building a collaborative mindset that sparks creativity and innovation – staying true to our heritage of innovation. We have established new work spaces that encourage testing of new ideas, developing those that show promise and having an avenue for fast-tracking them to market when they are ready. We are also giving employees tools such as mobile apps, augmented and virtual reality environments, and automated controls and sensors that provide real-time data to improve network operations, resilience and safety.

Digital transformation is a massive undertaking, and we are developing a five year roadmap to align our actions, as well as create a new organizational and governance structure, and a strategic workforce plan.