Earlier this year, before the onset of COVID-19, we were thrilled to have Exelon Utilites CEO Calvin G. Butler Jr. join us for our “In Conversation” interview series at the #ThirdCloudSummit in Washington D.C. Calvin sat down with Wall Street Journal reporter Rob Barry and, as a utility executive, provided an intriguing perspective on the digital transformation for the utility industry.

When asked about some of the key challenges he is seeing in the utility industry, Calvin emphasized that customers are looking for something very different today and tomorrow – in terms of a user experience – than what they’ve traditionally had in the past with utilities.

“In the future, customers are no longer judging us against other utilities – theýre comparing us with their experiences to other industries – like Uber, Southwest and Dominoes,” Calvin said. “At the end of the day it́s a technology platform, and their thought is ‘Why should I have to give my cable a four hour window and wait around for him when I can track my pizza on a mobile app.”

Calvin stressed the need to get regulators to understand where utilities are trying to go so they can help us get there.

How do you keep data safe?

Rob asked Calvin about how utilities can keep data safe as they move to a more digital platform, to which Butler replied that privacy and protecting the data is paramount. He said that Exelon invests hundreds of millions of dollars across the company to do this.

What are you trying to accomplish 15 years out?

When asked about his 15 year plan for Exelon Utilities, Calvin said that “Operating the grid in a safe, reliable manner is going to be critical for who we are.” This works in tandem with providing the best level of service to its customers, and giving them the best experience possible. “Act as if your customers have a choice today, because they can all go off the grid tomorrow.”

Calvin expressed that Exelon Utilities is very diligent about putting together its long range plans, saying that calculated risks should be limited. “It’s important to acknowledge that we don’t fully understand where the technology is going, so we have a whole team working on that,” Butler said. “We’re always looking at technology, looking at start ups, and engaging in conversations about this. The partnerships we have formed are helping to form us, so recognizing that we dońt have all the answers helps us move forward.”

How are you navigating unpredictability of costs and challenges in transitioning from on-prem to the cloud?

Rob asked about how Exelon Utilities is navigating the costs of transitioning to the cloud, to which Butler replied immediately with, “Costs are key for us, every dollar we invest eventually flows back to our customers bill so we have to be cognizant of that.”

Calvin went on to discuss how Exelon and Exelon Utilities develops strategic partnerships – including one with Oracle Utilities. Their thinking was to partner with them on the front end, not knowing where it would end up, but knowing they’d get some place, and work together to determine what those solutions could feel like, and how they could better serve our customers.

“That partnership is one where you’re not worried about every dollar, it allows you to sit back and think innovative creatively, and say ‘okay if that’s where your end goal is, here’s what we can do’. And you’re not worried about all the inputs and outputs because it’s a partnership. That is how we’re managing those costs, but more importantly, think innovatively because we do not have all the best ideas, so we bring in those technology partners like Oracle to really leverage it and go and do it together.”

How has Exelon Utilities responded to the pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, providing safe, clean and reliable energy to our hospitals, response centers, grocery stores and homes has never been more important. Exelon Utilities understands its foundational role in responding to this crisis for as long as it takes their communities to recover, and they are dedicated to their mission of providing safe, clean, reliable energy services.

How has Exelon and its utilities supported customers during this challenging time?

All Exelon operating companies are working to ensure everyone continues to have access to reliable energy services during these difficult times. For example, all six of Exelońs utilities have suspended service disconnections and late payment charges for the foreseeable future. We are also urging people in their coverage area who lost service before the pandemic to contact their utility about safe service restoration. Each of our utilities also maintains a website dedicated to COVID-19 where customers can get the latest information on programs and assistance for those impacted by the pandemic

What steps has Exelon taken to ensure the safety of its employees?

Exelon’s leadership, safety and occupational health professionals have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, informed by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to ensure that employees who continue to report to company facilities and job sites have the additional equipment they need to safely continue to provide an essential service to its customers. Exelon has taken many steps to protect the health of its employees, including implementing additional precautionary measures at call centers and control centers, practicing social distancing, staggering shifts, instituting enhanced cleaning procedures at our facilities and requiring the use of masks for employees who may need to enter a customer’s home or business or who are not able to perform their work while maintaining social distancing.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Calvin for joining us at the #ThirdCloudSummit this year and for sharing his point of view and insights as CEO of a utility company. These are critical as the industry continues its digital transformation.

Stay tuned for clips of Calvin’s interview on our YouTube channel.

Please visit our website for more recaps and photos of last week’s Summit.

By Barry Levine

There is now a B2B side to complement the previous B2C focus, pointing to more ways for Salesforcés CRM to become e-commerce-enabled.

In mid-2016, Salesforce bought commerce platform Demandware, which became the basis for its new Commerce Cloud.

Now, with the recent closing of its acquisition of commerce platform CloudCraze, Salesforce is adding B2B to its Commerce Cloud. But therés more to that story, former CloudCraze EVP of Strategy — and now Salesforce VP for B2B Commerce Strategy — Andy Peebler told me.

Aside from its focus on B2B, he said, CloudCraze offers another advantage: It́s built natively onto the Salesforce platform. By contrast, Demandware was an existing platform that is now integrated with Salesforce.

This results in faster performance for CloudCraze purchases, he said, especially when a user is coming from Salesforcés customer relationship management system (CRM). The salesperson has access to the same customer record in both the CRM and the store.

A salesperson using the Salesforce CRM, he noted, can close the sales process and then supervise the actual purchase.

In some cases, it can be very useful to have the salesperson involved through actual purchase, Peebler pointed out. For instance, therés the use case of a customer who wants to get a few new things suggested by the sales rep when supplies are reordered, and the salesperson can guide the buyer to the specific models or types.

Peebler said that, if a salesperson is using Oracle or SAP and wants to integrate the commerce platform into their CRM, they have to pay additional for that connectivity. CloudCraze, he said, is the only B2B e-commerce platform built natively into Salesforce.

Continue reading at Martech

By Kalev Leetaru

In a world of seemingly hourly data breaches, it can seem at times that the battle for cybersecurity has officially been lost and that there is nothing more for businesses to do but wait for the inevitable breaches to come and perform damage control. Smaller businesses without the means to invest in advanced cyber defenses find themselves inundated with questionable solutions that offer few protections, while larger companies struggle to afford maintaining large staffs of top security professionals. Into this cyber Wild West, the major cloud companies have begun moving aggressively to take their own lessons learned and massive internal security investments and make them broadly available to the rest of the world. Could this finally shift the cyber tide?

Cybersecurity was front and center at last yeaŕs Google Next cloud conference, with a wealth of announcements and reminders of how the company has begun externalizing its security prowess through a series of new offerings. Last month the company followed this up with a flurry of new announcements from access auditing to data loss prevention to identity controls to new partnerships with third party security companies, emphasizing just how much of a growth area the major cloud companies see the cyber environs.

Some of these new tools, like Google’s Cloud Security Command Center, are essentially cloud-scale security scanners, designed to survey a companýs entire cloud footprint, identifying potential vulnerabilities or forgotten entrance points. Given that one of the most common causes of data breaches in the cloud are misconfigured access restrictions on storage resources and forgotten or improperly secured systems, such scanners should help close the remaining gap, especially when paired with a renewed focus on user management in the cloud era. Unlike the VPN castle defenses of past, in which companies surrounded their assets with extensive monitoring, but blindly trusted anyone that got inside, cloud vendors are pushing businesses towards their own “trust nothing” model that better reflects the reality of the uncertain world in which we live. Instant infrastructure DDOS protection allows companies to better fend off crippling attacks using the same systems that protect Google itself.

Preventing malicious insiders and skilled attackers that manage to get in through the front door from walking back out the door with a companýs crown jewels has gained renewed emphasis, with Googlés DLP API removing many of the barriers to companies being able to implement enterprise-grade filtering, from OCŔing of image content to contextual detection. One-click statistical outlier detection makes it easier for companies to identify inadvertent holes in their anonymization workflows. Third party partnerships offer countless additional services, while improved auditing allows total visibility into all access of a companýs data.

Amazon and Microsoft have similarly invested heavily in helping their customers build security-conscious applications and infrastructures that are designed for todaýs world, rather than the quaint naïve blind trust of yesteryeaŕs web. Moreover, the major cloud vendorś global footprints mean companies can mitigate their physical risk as well by distributing their applications geographically, allowing for seamless continuity of operations even in the face of natural or human disasters.

Continue reading at Forbes