Reliant Energy Embraces Centra Web Collaboration Platform to Accelerate SAP Rollout and Power Online Meetings
Reliant Energy has chosen Centra to ensure the successful deployment of its SAP system upgrade to thousands of employees working in two of the company’s subsidiaries: Reliant Energy Arkla and Reliant Energy Entex. Together, these companies provide natural gas to customers across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. With Centra’s Web collaboration platform, Reliant Energy has been able to quickly overcome cultural barriers to change that can burden or delay major enterprise-wide deployments, resulting in a fast and efficient rollout of the SAP upgrade to 2,000 remotely located employees, and continues to benefit the 6,000 employees company-wide who use the system daily.
The ability to instantly connect in real time over the Internet with Centra to train widely dispersed employees has resulted in a compelling return-on-investment for the company. “In calculating the travel expenses we would have incurred through onsite training and communications, Centra has more than paid for itself in the first seven months,” said Linda Swift, Project Manager for Reliant Energy. “Most significantly, by using Centra to engage people online and demonstrate the look and feel of the SAP upgrade virtually, we were able to reduce apprehension about the change and quickly gain widespread acceptance – a powerful achievement by any standard.”
With Centra, Reliant Energy can provide training to many more employees than was previously possible. Added Swift, “Several remote offices have only one or two employees, which made even one person’s prolonged absence difficult at best. Now everyone can participate in a highly interactive online environment.”
‘Chat with the Chief’ and ‘Town Meetings’
As Reliant Energy employees have experienced the ease-of-use of Centra’s integrated voice-over-IP and immediate cost-savings over expensive video conferencing and long-distance teleconferencing, the technology has quickly spread throughout the company to facilitate online meetings and other forms of real-time corporate communication.
According to Denise Breese, Manager of Business Improvement for Reliant Arkla/Entex, “As our use of Centra progressed, we realized our organization would benefit from finding a variety of applications for this technology. We saw its benefits for training immediately, but we quickly began to adapt it for other uses, such as HR Town Hall meetings, SAP Special Interest Group meetings, and highly technical problem-solving sessions. The interactive nature of Centra has also made it possible for us to conduct some lively online conferences.”
Since January 2002, Reliant Energy’s Senior Vice President of Information Technology and CIO, Ianne McCrea, has been using Centra to conduct monthly “Chat with the Chief” online meetings with company personnel located across the country. “Centra has enabled me to leverage ubiquitous, low-cost Internet infrastructure to reach and interact with approximately 500 widely-dispersed IT employees instantly, a real step forward in my ability to maintain a strong dialog with my department and to create a thriving online community,” commented McCrea.
Setting an early example at Reliant Energy, the Human Resource department established online “Town Meetings,” using Centra first in May 2001. These meetings enable the company’s Vice President of HR in Houston to deliver information to departments across the country on new programs and corporate milestones.
Company-wide Communication Gets Even Easier
The recording feature of Centra’s Web collaboration platform has become a powerful tool in capturing knowledge and making it available to employees on-demand. Reliant Energy is using Centra’s instant recording tools to capture two-to-three minute live ‘snapshots’ of someone explaining a typical SAP transaction, and then making these available to users through a Web site. The result has been tremendous. Even before the training was over, Reliant Energy calculated about 6,000 hits on the Web page – a testament to the high demand for this type of targeted, easy-to-access practical know-how.
Scaleable Software Solution for eLearning and Collaboration
Used by more than 850 companies, government agencies, and universities worldwide, Centra’s scaleable software solutions are based on CentraOne™, an open and extensible Web collaboration platform. Leveraging the core capabilities of CentraOne, Centra offers a suite of compatible, real-time Web collaboration applications, content composition tools, and knowledge delivery systems that can be quickly installed on-site using Centra’s rapid deployment methodology, or conveniently accessed through Centra’s secure, full-service ASP. Centra’s application interfaces – including those for interactive Web meetings, virtual classrooms, and large-scale conferences – ensure universal access to users through firewalls and proxy servers, and deliver full-performance IP audio and video conferencing, application sharing, and dynamic multimedia over low-bandwidth network connections through a standard browser interface.
“Reliant Energy is a excellent example of how Centra’s Web collaboration environment can act as a valuable change agent, helping organizations to achieve their key objectives more quickly – which in this case was the rollout of their SAP system,” said Joseph Gruttadauria, Centra’s Senior Vice President of Professional Services. “The propagation of Centra throughout Reliant Energy demonstrates the clear value proposition we bring to customers on multiple levels – helping to cut costs, accelerate key business initiatives, increase productivity, and enable an effective virtual work environment.”