10 Innovators to Watch in 1999
These executives are energizing the power business with their persistence, ideas and pure gut instincts.
What is an innovator? Must he, or she, be an inventor? Or merely an idea-prone CEO with a knack for building a string of successful companies? Or could an innovator be both a scientist and CEO?
In this first-ever feature, Fortnightly has chosen innovators from all segments of the energy business. Innovators who, in every sense, have something to prove next year, whether that be seeing out the commercialization of technology or a leading corporate strategy designed to make competitors wonder who blew them by.
Size doesn't matter. Whether they're heading a $16 million or a $12 billion venture, it's drive and vision that makes the executive. These corporate officials clearly have what it takes to look beyond the usual and see what it will take to put their companies over the top.
Robert L. Aveyard,vice president and chief information officer, Conectiv Resource Partners
If you asked me to do a production line job where I had to do the same thing over and over again I'd get bored and start looking for ways to do it differently," says Robert L. Aveyard, Conectiv Resource Partners CIO. "It's always, 'Is there a way to do this better?'"
Aveyard each day looks for a better way to complete tasks, but his job at the Wilmington, Del. utility has much more variety than any production line. More challenges have been thrown his way via deregulation and the March merger of Delmarva Power & Light Co. and Atlantic City Electric Co., which formed a $2.5 billion enterprise known as Conectiv Inc.
Notable tasks Aveyard's team is working on include providing system support for local voice/data/long distance packaging at Connectiv Communications and carrying out millions of dollars worth of solutions to make systems Y2K-compliant. It's moving very fast on information systems support for 15 HVAC companies acquired over the last year. The companies, falling under the Conectiv Services banner, account for $100 million in annualized revenues.
All that doesn't include the time Aveyard and his 120 staffers have put into aligning information technology at each of the merged companies. Conectiv has two local area networks that have been a challenge to unite. One 1999 goal is to link the companies on a single system.
Key to the future of operating in a deregulated environment is continued deployment of Conectiv's SAP enterprise system. The system allows the utility to better understand costs and track them back to cost centers. Moving from the FERC cost accounting system to a competitive accounting system is crucial to the business, Aveyard says.
He says the utility wants each line of business to "own" its budget and make commitments on revenues, then have projects support those commitments. They'll need to know how many employees use PCs on a local area network, for instance, and what the charge for operating is a year. What is the cost of adding an employee and the corresponding IT?
But the new cost accounting technology can't be considered a cure all, Aveyard says.