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The Year In Review: Developments And Shifts

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The COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, this has been a disruptive year for many South Africans. Load shedding has made an unwelcome, albeit sporadic, return. The violent protests in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng added distress to an already burdened society.

Job losses and other economic challenges increased the pressure many companies and individuals have already been experiencing. And yet, despite all of this, there are positive changes to be thankful for.

In June, President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised a series of amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act allowing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to increase electricity supply to the national grid. This means they can now generate up to 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity to address the current energy crisis.

Many analysts ascribed the severity of the riots to the high unemployment rate and increased poverty. Communities throughout the country came together to support those most affected by the looting and taking a stand against the violence. This bodes well for nation-building and highlights that South Africans embrace the spirit of Ubuntu.

Technology shift

There were significant developments in the technology space. Since the onset of the pandemic early last year, organisations and governments have been under pressure to embrace digital transformation. And while the likes of the cloud, data analysis, big data, and high-performance computing are not new, the pace at which change had to be affected was at a rate never experienced.

Those companies who simply gave lip-service to digital transformation were found wanting and have been struggling to keep up with evolving market (and customer) requirements. Fortunately, RMS has always been at the front-end of technology shifts and it has been no different this time round. As an organisation, we transitioned from a services business to becoming a technology company long before COVID-19 and the resultant lockdowns.

This has been a key enabler to help the organisation grow its foothold in the market. With hardware evolving and the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming a core component in effective utility management especially when monitoring and reporting on usage patterns, RMS has been ideally positioned to assist municipalities and building managers dealing with a connected environment. For us, it has not been about ‘pushing boxes.’ Instead, we have been committed to a partner-led approach.

Partner focus

This change is important as customers prefer working with a business partner who not only has a proven track record, but also understands their unique requirements. While hardware, software, and services will always be important, there is opportunity to take this to the next level.

RMS considers the customer experience from a digital perspective and how we can support our stakeholders with innovative solutions. While the difference might seem subtle, it is vital in a new operating environment where customer-centricity becomes a significant competitive advantage. Establishing a partnership means we can significantly improve the business outcomes for our customers and ourselves.

Being able to integrate our business activities, employees’ skills, and our customers’ requirements with digital solutions helps future-proof our operations regardless of what the utility management environment will look like going forward.

RMS gives its customers the option to outsource all aspects of utility management whether this be on a meter reading basis or query resolution at a municipal level. More importantly, we can identify short- and long-term cost saving opportunities. We strive to empower our customers to focus on their strategic deliverables while we take care of utility management.

Yes, 2021 brought challenges and obstacles. But, in overcoming them, the country is the stronger for it with companies like ourselves on hand to help provide the growth that will be critical for 2022 and beyond.

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