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From cloud to smart meters

Zafar Anjum | Sept. 24, 2014
A tête-à-tête with Susanna Shen, CIO, Towngas, Hong Kong

Chen CTO

Susanna Shen, CIO, Towngas, Hong Kong

How long have you been a CIO with Towngas?

I have been with Towngas for a long time. I took up the post of CIO in 2005.

Can you briefly define your role in the company?

I need to take care of the corporate IT in both Hong Kong and China. Apart from our HK core business, we have a number of subsidiaries. Our team needs to give support to these subsidiary companies as well.

We have 180 joint ventures in China. Some of the joint ventures have their own IT so there are some important or critical applications that we would like our joint ventures to use. Of course they have their own IT, but some of the major ones, we would like them to go with the corporate directions and also following the management and the level of standard that we would like to have.

So, primarily you have an office in HK, and in other Chinese cities?

In Shenzhen, we have our headquarters for China. For the joint ventures, mainly they are distributed in 22 provinces.

As a CIO, how do you add value to the business?

I think it is particularly important when the growth of the company is so fast. Otherwise you can't cope with the growth. Cloud computing has given us a great insight to help us in deploying the applications for our joint ventures. Before we deliver the system on premises, which will be time-consuming, and in a lot of places in China, the IT personnel are really not so qualified. It is difficult for them to support the systems on an ongoing basis. So cloud computing fit very well in the mold of our IT operations.

When did you move to the cloud exactly, and can you tell us which vendor you're using? And how exactly is it benefitting you?

We had the idea (of using cloud) in 2011. We piloted with six major joint ventures. We wanted to make sure that we are really reliable and operate smoothly, before rolling out. And then in 2012, we had six joint ventures using these services through the cloud computing and they just pay a monthly fee and all the list line, all the applications, are hassle free to them.

After the successful pilot, we rolled out to other joint ventures in Szechuan and also other provinces. And what we did more in 2013 is that we extended it to the smart metering area because in our company, we have another new business.

We also have a new invention on a new smart meter - this is under another subsidiary company. We intend to provide smart meter for our joint ventures. And behind that smart meter, there's an intelligent, interactive metering system. And we also put it onto cloud, integrating our customer information system with the smart interactive metering system. This becomes a very powerful M2M operation model for the company because in this smart meter, we are doing a prepaid model.


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