Itron, with Over 8,000 customers in more than 100 countries offers products and services on energy and water resource management. Its products and services include technology solutions related to smart grid, smart gas and smart water that measure and analyze electricity, gas and water consumption. Itron embarked on adapting a cloud-first strategy with a rollout of Office 365, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Azure. Seeking to build a valuable knowledge base for their products, Itron began looking for modern solutions that could automate and streamline many of their processes and turned to Technovert for help.
In the business of Manufacturing & Product engineering, the product catalog and knowledge base is the key. But often siloed, decentralized -based legacy publishing processes create a barrier for organizations to deliver on these terms. Such was the case for Itron. Looking to implement more efficient processes for publishing product information, managing product database, best practices, and a centralized knowledge base, Itron engaged with Technovert’ s team of SharePoint specialists to adopt and implement a next-generation product catalog & knowledge center.
Our team of Office 365 experts reviewed the key processes and use cases w.r.t their product development and knowledge management lifecycle, the challenges involved in publishing product information and its discovery. Technovert ‘s team found it ideal to utilize SharePoint Online as the core platform for managing all the relevant pieces of product information, thus envisioning a centralized product catalog. Microsoft PowerApps and Flow were also identified as the mobile application platform for the solution to make the information accessible on any device at any place.
The product catalog leverages the rich content publishing capabilities of SharePoint Modern communication site for authoring content, the product information is managed in SharePoint lists & libraries with custom list view formatting for making the content more accessible. Azure functions were used to bring in the information from various sources within and external to the organization and integrating the information into centralized product API with Azure API Management. Microsoft Flows were leveraged to synchronize the information from SharePoint. SharePoint Search made the content readily discoverable and frequent results were shown upfront. The mobile app built using PowerApps uses multiple entities within the Common Data Store and product information is pulled from several entities and displayed on a single screen.
The authoring of product information became as simple as authoring a word document coupled with product metadata, which is later parsed and formatted to become SharePoint Modern Site Pages. During this process, a multi-level stage-gate approval and review process ensures the content was finalized for publishing. This became a key differentiator in reducing the publishing-review timelines from few weeks to hours.
When an employee/consultant/vendor wants to access the product catalog, a personalized experience was made available by using Microsoft Graph, allowing the users’ key information to be pulled, viewed, and deliver the right information for the right set of audience. These types of usability features improve the user experience, and the customer experience, and save valuable time and effort while increasing accuracy and recollection.
Itron greatly benefited from the new product catalog making it more accessible, always up to date with the speedier publishing process, thus improving the overall productivity of employees. By managing all this information centrally within Office 365, and having common processes for authoring, tracking, publishing, and discovery of the valuable information, Itron also was successful in achieving their business goals.