Identifying new technology to improve the effectiveness of IST Otokon's energy management systems
Combrink, Gerhardus Albertus
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1ST Otokon, a Pretoria based company delivering energy management systems to the industrial and utility market segments, has shown steady growth since its inception 15 years ago. However, after ailing financial results, all aspects of the business were interrogated. It was doubted whether its energy management system (EMS) offering, ecWIN, was fulfilling the needs of the industry. Therefore this study was needed to identify new technology which could improve the effectiveness of ecWIN. After doing a thorough literature study on ecWIN, its competitors and the technologies currently utilised, the product was mapped to various technology management models. Deficiencies in the current software development environment were identified, including a lack of manpower and old software development tools. The empirical study entailed determining the effectiveness of the product through a user survey in the form of a questionnaire. Certain problem areas (e.g. insufficient software testing and a lack of documentation on advanced features) were identified by this survey. The numerous complaints about the slowness of certain reports and lack in user-friendliness were also highlighted. Also forming part of the literature and empirical study respectively, were the identification and evaluation of new technologies not yet utilised in the ecWIN sphere. Taking a holistic view of all this information, recommendations were made on how to improve the effectiveness of ecWIN. This was presented in terms of three dimensions: • Upgrade the current infrastructure over the next 12 months, mainly with new software development tools such as Centura Team Developer 2005, Crystal Reports, etc. • Improve the cost-effectiveness of ecWIN during 2006 and 2007, typically by utilising GPRS, MMS, WiFi and BlueTooth to retrieve information from meters. • Utilise a new business model (mainly centred on the cost-effectiveness dimension together with Linux and MySQL) which could allow the company to directly compete with other firms, even in the commercial and residential markets. A fourth dimension, consisting of technologies that should not be considered for integration with ecWIN at this stage, was also identified (e.g. IPv6, XHTML and Visual Studio .NET). In a world with rapidly changing technology, this study should not be a once-off process, but should be undertaken regularly to ascertain that the effectiveness of 1ST Otokon's EMS offering is constantly improved through the identification of new technology.