NRG Energy is one of those companies that’s pushing us forward into the future. The Princeton, N.J.-based wholesale power generator cranks out 26,000 megawatts of electric generating power—enough to light up 21 million homes. But its newer initiative, eVgo, is getting all the buzz.
Through its EV (electric vehicle) Services division, NRG is building the first electric vehicle ecosystem—branded eVgo—in the U.S.; essentially, the company is creating a network of charging stations designed for electric vehicles. The company broke ground last month on the first of 150 stations in its pilot city, Houston, which has a high rate of solo commuters (78%) and terrible air quality. NRG is building some of its stations on the properties of large retail partners, including Walmart and Best Buy.
In planning for this eVgo project, NRG deployed SAP’s CRM solution to manage both its relationships with business partners and future relationships with consumer customers when the charging stations are up and running. Prankaj Rana, CRM lead for NRG, says social and mobile features were important in choosing SAP’s CRM, which integrates with Facebook and Twitter and is compatible with Apple, RIM, Windows Mobile, and Android devices.
Consumers interested in setting up a charging station at their homes will need NRG to conduct a site assessment. NRG plans to use 50 salespeople—a mix of their own employees and workers from third-party vendors—to conduct assessments using iPads. “When our folks go to consumers for assessment, we want them to be on an iPad, so we’ve integrated the iPad with our solution to make them more mobile,” Rana says. “We don’t want our employees to be just on iPhone and BlackBerry.”
The robustness of SAP’s mobile CRM on the large iPad screen—when the devices are deployed later this year—will help the assessment process go more smoothly, says Rana. The company also explored other platform options but the iPad came out on top. According to Rana, “Android does not pass our security levels, whereas the iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry do. That’s why you see a lot of enterprises using BlackBerry: security clearance is a big issue.”
NRG customers will receive key fobs that the company can manage wirelessly to activate the user’s access to both the home and public EV charging stations or deactivate access if, for example, the account becomes delinquent.