HP aims OpenView BPI at utilities

Company says more verticals will come in near future

Hewlett-Packard Co. has come up with a new strategy to increase use of its OpenView Business Process Insight (BPI) business process management and optimization software. The vendor is teaming up with integration partners in specific vertical markets to provide combined tools to deal with particular industry issues. HP is due to announce the first such relationship with Itron Inc. targeting the utilities market Monday.

Introduced in June 2004, OpenView BPI models business flows by mapping each stage in a particular workflow to the company's IT systems. The aim is to provide users with a visual real-time representation of the health of their firm's business processes so they can more easily identify any potential issues and react more quickly to IT service outages. The tool has two pieces, a Web Business Console where users can view the business flows and data, and a Business Event Handler, based on open-source middleware open adaptor, for integrating the OpenView BPI software with a company's or a partner's systems.

HP and Itron have integrated HP's OpenView BPI with Itron's metering, data collection, data management and knowledge application suite via open adaptor, according to Milan Hanson, alliances architect for HP OpenView. Itron is a technology supplier focused on the energy and water industries with more than 3,000 global customers.

The combination of HP's and Itron's software enables a utility to track and measure business metrics including the precise U.S. dollar amount or impact on customers of a utility's IT failures, according to Margaret Herndon, vertical solutions team lead for HP OpenView.

Deregulation around the world has meant that many utilities are now facing competition in their markets for the first time, Herndon said. "They have to compete on price and on service," she said in a recent phone interview. "They have a need for business operational efficiency and the IT tools to allow them to do that."

The key workflow for utilities to better understand and manage is known as "meter-to-cash" or the process from the time energy is consumed up until the point when the utility receives payment for that energy, Herndon said. In order to be able to successfully compete in deregulated markets, utilities need to be able to shorten the "meter-to-cash" cycle, she added.

The pricing for the combined software from HP and Itron is dependant on how many processes a user wishes to model, Herndon said. Typically, one process flow will cost in the region of US$50,000, while three processes will cost about $100,000, with the price per process falling as users opt to model more processes, she added.

In future, HP expects to establish relationships for OpenView BPI similar to the one with Itron in other vertical industries, according to Herndon.

Likely next areas the company will target include the automotive and high-tech industries in relation to supply chain management (SCM) and product lifecycle management (PLM), she said. HP is also looking at the pharmaceutical industry in terms of modeling SCM and the clinical trials process, Herndon added.

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