Utility Leader Saves Potential Billions on BPM Bug with Origina in the Copilot Seat
One of only a handful of utility providers to routinely crack the Fortune 100, this company is among the best-known names in the energy sector and does business in almost every U.S. state.
IBM® Business Process Manager
(Now known as IBM® Business Automation Workflow)
Without trust in their IBM® BPM data, this utility provider had to switch to suboptimal billing practices – and risked a billion-dollar spend to return to baseline.
NATIONAL UTILITY COMPANY ENCOUNTERS DATA-TAINTING BUG WITH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN POTENTIAL EXPENSE
In the utility industry, providers rely on middleware such as IBM® Business Process Manager (BPM) to make sure distributed technologies, which can span decades and carry different levels of digital capability, communicate on the same level, regardless of how long they’ve been part of the stack. In this regard, the middleware is crucial to the success of numerous business-supporting functions, ranging from billing to system health checks.
Companies in such a complex and intensely regulated space tend to upgrade component-by-component and case-by-case. But when issues arise, the middleware making communication possible between systems can create problems that bring nominal operations to a standstill and mystify even seasoned technical/infrastructure experts.
This was the challenge a leading U.S. utility company found itself facing. While internal teams were largely certain they had a BPM bug on their hands, the overall prognosis was not good. The middleware they had relied on for so long had begun spitting back untrustworthy data involving instance snapshots at massive scale, which created a multisystem issue touching eight million electrical points of information. Unfortunately, internal experts were unable to discover the root source.
Without complete confidence in the data coming to them, the company couldn’t be sure any of the eight million points, including meters, were operating properly. The discovery essentially forced the utility provider to rely on historical averages rather than actual readings, a less than ideal method of pricing, until they could procure a fix for the currently unresolvable issue plaguing them.
At an estimated price tag of $1 billion, bringing on an army of engineers to manually confirm the operational status of each point was not feasible. And although the bug had been hiding in their implementation from day one, IBM had moved on from BPM, meaning there would be no OEM fix from the megavendor.
ORIGINA’S EXPERTS TAKE THE REINS ON ONE OF OUR MOST CHALLENGING CASES YET
In a very real sense, Origina stood as the provider’s last hope. This was an organization with millions of customers that needed help as fast as it could be rendered.
With full respect for the challenge at hand, we took the vote of confidence as an opportunity to showcase our collective knowledge and set out to solve one of the most complex technical challenges we’ve seen.
Enter Origina’s team of 600-plus global independent IBM® software experts (GIEs). Having access to this truly one-of-a-kind talent resource means we know how to solve problems deemed too troublesome, time consuming, or incongruent with the revenue model to pursue.
After analyzing the ongoing situation, the GIEs forwarded the utility IT team a set of detailed steps to clarify our team’s understanding on the source of the issue. The plan helped our experts zero in on a root cause: a bug within the BPM source code that had been obfuscated by compounding factors in the IT infrastructure.
Too often, patching is seen as the first – or worse, the only – line of defense against unpredicted breakdowns and unknown security threats. This utility provider’s ongoing challenge reflects just one of countless situations where other measures, such as configuration changes or custom fixes, might be a more sensible option.
Even with every factor stacked against the customer’s success, Origina’s GIEs were able to provide advice and resolution that satisfied the customer’s urgent needs and met point-for-point with a strict regulatory backdrop. Working and diagnosing at a level deeper than OEM administrator tools might permit, the two-person team managing the case tapped into unmatched, detailed knowledge to fix the problem in ways other providers could not.
Our experts carried out the highly successful operation without a single change to IBM’s source code.
“It is very useful to have multiple GIEs with slightly variant viewpoints helping each other in this type of ticket resolution,” one of the GIEs said following the event.
Origina’s fix for the problem not only mitigated the issue; it gave the provider clear steps on how to work through past inconsistencies by cleaning up suspect snapshots, further ensuring system health and operation with a tool that has a lot of functionality left to offer.
When this topline U.S. energy provider turned to Origina with a severe operational threat, they achieved:
- One-of-a-kind analysis and advice from independent IBM® software experts holding combined decades of tenure
- A custom fix that met regulatory requirements and technical billing needs without changing IBM’s source code
- Potential billions in savings, compared to hiring hundreds of engineers to manually resolve the problem