Prioritize enabling all data to be accessible and available across the organization to support your overall business processes.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Kram.
Jason Kram is the Executive Vice President at Adapt2 Solutions, a leading AI-driven energy market software organization, based in Houston, Texas. After obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Dakota State University in Mechanical Engineering, Jason began his career in energy at Duke Energy then later transitioning to be a leader in energy market solutions, supporting some of America’s largest utilities in streamlining their energy operations.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In the early 90s, similar to the current day the power industry was dynamic and exciting. Around the same time, I was writing a master’s thesis on energy storage. Having a background in engineering, I was able to use those skills to start a career in energy. As the power industry continued to accelerate through the late ’90s with deregulation, I found myself wanting to help support power organizations and I always had a technology interest, which led me to the role I am in today.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I’m not sure if it was ultimately a mistake or not but I chose to start my career at a power engineering firm before I had my master’s thesis completed. At that time my advisor suggested that if I stayed in school to complete it I could have it done in 1 month, if I left school it would take 1 year. I chose to leave thinking that with the minimum amount of work that I had left it would be easy to finish even while away from school. It turned out my advisor could make his prophecy come true and ultimately 1 year later it was completed.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
A partner in the engineering firm that I had worked with early in my career, remained in touch with me even after I left the firm to join Duke Energy and participate in the newly formed energy markets. He ultimately became a Board Member at an energy software vendor and recruited me to start a Houston-based office that allowed me to apply my energy industry knowledge with my interest in applying technology within the industry. That track has led me to where I am today…leading a leading tech company in the energy industry.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Any film that attempts to project the future has always impacted me as a forward-thinking innovative person. There are too many to list but, when we consider AI-based films that like Ex Machina and others it tends to make us think about what is possible in the future but also what are the risks.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
The founding premise of Adapt2 was to first be a technology company and then provide significant efficiencies to energy market participants through a single platform. The purpose was to allow market participants to adapt to changing energy markets and changing technologies. This vision is still present as we anticipate these changes in markets and technology to innovate new solutions.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We have participated with leading energy companies like Exelon, Duke Energy, AEP, and Xcel Energy through digital transformation initiatives that are enabling cloud-native solutions like Adapt2 to improve and streamline business processes. These transformations have all involved some degree of big data and artificial intelligence frameworks that will continuously improve over time. It’s exciting to see the technology develop.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level, what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is bringing data and technology together to streamline business processes, improve decision making, analyze information across the organization, and overall leverage technology to improve operations.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
Companies that have massive data elements to their business operations that cannot be fully consumed by the human mind in a way that is consistent across individuals at a speed that is useful for decision making. In our space in the energy markets the volume of data that our customers participate in at the sub-hourly level in energy markets, the real-time metrics and metering that is available from the plants they operate, and the weather make technology and digital transformation imperative to success.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes, and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
The best stories are yet to come but the exciting part of our current times is that our customers in the energy industry are now embracing this and investing significantly in technologies that will help them anticipate and react to changing market data, plant capabilities, and weather to be ready for any opportunity that presents itself.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
The biggest challenge is the breadth of data that can be used by technology to support the business. The key is to start with the most direct data elements that help with business strategy. Then scale out incrementally that will bridge parts of the business together that further enhance strategy. For our customers in the energy industry, we generally start with the market data in the markets they participate in as that is the most core element for them to generate profits. We then can start taking steps inward inside the company to capture asset data and help them connect market-facing data elements and plant data elements to further enhance operations. We also tie back market results to the next day’s operations to “learn” what key strategies were optimal. The volumes of data that is available to support these processes are nearly infinite as each part is tied together.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Prioritize enabling all data to be accessible and available across the organization to support your overall business processes.
- Leverage cloud-native technologies to connect systems and enable efficient containerized upgrades of components.
- Connect data through data lakes that are infinitely scalable
- Enable artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to suggest optimal strategies and learn from past extremes or major events.
- Embrace innovation and encourage teams to participate in collaboration to improve the application of current technologies
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” to create new competitive advantages?
At Adapt2 we embed “innovation” in our just cause or mission statement and we challenge ourselves to be our own biggest competitor. An important element of what makes us more innovative is that we create teams that disengage from the daily operations for 4–6 weeks to participate in innovation labs. The release from daily activity with the mindset of innovation is important for our growth as a technology company.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life must be understood backward but lived forward.” Soren Kierkegaard
Learning from the past has always helped me shape better decisions moving forward. This is also how we know to think about AI and machine learning. What can we leverage about past events to better predict decisions moving forward?
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela
Innovation is about trying new things and many times failing. Failure is not a loss but learning that will enable an eventual new challenge to be overcome.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!