Large Brazilian Renewable Energy Company Predicts the Wind
Casa dos Ventos Utilizes SAP and Google
At A Glance
- Largest renewable energy company in Brazil reaches new tier of energy consumers.
- CIO Roberto Oikawa develops unique culture for his IT enterprise to support expansion.
- SAP S/4HANA and the cloud provide conditions for innovation and process optimization.
By Brianna Shipley, Director of Editorial
The clean energy industry is expected to grow as governments develop regulations that require businesses to consider their impact on the environment. Brazil stands out as a country that is investing heavily in clean energy compared to other regions in the world. According to the Brazilian government, almost 83% of Brazil’s electricity matrix originates from renewable sources.
Casa dos Ventos Energias Renovaveis (Casa dos Ventos), a pioneer in Brazil’s renewable energy market, is particularly interested in wind, and solar, and green hydrogen.
“For those who don’t speak Portuguese, Casa dos Ventos means the house of the winds,” says Casa dos Ventos’ Chief Information Officer (CIO) Roberto Oikawa. “We are the biggest wind developer here in Brazil. Almost one-third of all the wind power being generated in Brazil was developed by us.”
The company offers a diversified portfolio of wind and solar assets. It has been recognized for spearheading wind energy development projects across the country and specializes in operational efficiency, asset management, and energy trading.
Oikawa says the organization is expanding its operations and expects to be one of the largest energy generators in Brazil once it completes construction of new wind farms. To reach this tier of energy consumers at scale, Oikawa has one essential task: digitize the energy sale.
“That’s where I’m investing my personal energy right now,” he says.
A Humble Attitude Offers Strategic Advantage
Oikawa explains that his journey of expansion didn’t start with technology, but rather with people, and changing the profile of his IT staff.
“The first step I took was to change the culture of our IT enterprise. I started to hire very talented and intelligent people but with a very low-profile demeanor,” he says. “IT should not have an ego that will create friction with the business where we need to be side by side cooperating.”
Technology is changing at a rapid pace. It is futile hiring the best expert for a technology today if tomorrow that technology is obsolete. What matters, says Oikawa, is not that your IT staff knows how to program and fulfill technical requirements. That is mandatory. What is really important is that they know how to get information, learn, and be proactive.
“If you hire someone who knows how to learn and who is aware that the knowledge he or she has today may not be worth anything tomorrow, then you have a proactive person who will always be looking forward to learning new things and bringing those insights to your company. I think that’s a big change in mindset and will be a differentiator in IT enterprises in years ahead,” Oikawa says.
With the right personalities in place for the job, the CIO has been able to pivot his attention to finding a suitable technology to support the company’s growth strategy, prediction, and data processing requirements.
The amount of energy that Casa dos Ventos can generate from the wind with its products and services plays a very important role for the company’s customers. “We need a partner and IT infrastructure that will allow us to perform machine learning and artificial intelligence studies with the flexibility and agility that the business requires,” he says.
The company decided to host SAP S/4HANA on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). SAP is supporting the company to manage more than 250 embryonic wind farms, and GCP is allowing Casa dos Ventos to generate a study in 24 hours containing climate and forecast data, a significant decrease from the seven days required in an on-premise environment.
Dedicate Brainpower to the Outcome, Not the Means
To get the most potential out of the company’s cloud environment, Oikawa says he studied how GCP’s architecture works and then adapted the company’s processes and technologies accordingly.
“You need to study how that cloud works and then adapt your processes to best utilize the technology — the architecture. When you do that, then you’ll get fantastic results. If you move as is, then you’re not getting the best of what you can from that cloud.”
Oikawa says moving from Infrastructure-as-a-Service to the serverless architecture of the cloud required a complete change of mindset, allowing his team to focus on results, rather than the process of achieving them.
“When your team doesn’t have to worry about the serverless components of the cloud, which are already optimized, they can dedicate hours of brainpower to the outcome itself, and not the means to get to the outcome,” Oikawa says.
Eliminate Distraction and Balance Quick Wins with Long-Term Results
What were the keys to making these projects successful? First people, then focus, Oikawa says.
“IT leadership performs a regular exercise to isolate what’s really important — what will bring results — from what is distraction. Because in the IT world, there’s a lot of distraction. There are many providers and technologists and methodologists that don’t bring significant outcomes. If distraction does arise from the team, it requires a transparent and straightforward conversation to explain why it’s a distraction and why time should not be spent there.”
In addition to removing distraction, part of the focus, says Oikawa, is perseverance.
“Many times, you have to believe deeply in the strategy before you experience the results and know whether you’ve taken the right path. That is a challenge mainly for IT leadership because usually, the business wants results very quickly. And that’s very feasible with cloud because you can achieve quick wins, but know that the really transformational things, the results from those, will come after some months. You can work at two layers: the quick wins and the transformational projects. The transformational ones will be those that sustain the business in the long run.”
A quick win, for example, might be reducing reporting time from seven days to one. A commitment to a long-term, transformational outcome, says Oikawa, would be confidence in your providers.
“When we chose SAP and GCP, one of the aspects that we really took into consideration was the amount of innovation that they would bring to us. You don’t have a measure for that. You have an expectation. SAP and Google have opened a lot of innovation doors for us. Either you trust your gut or not. We are happy with our decision today.”
Casa dos Ventos has completed its SAP S/4HANA implementation taking a greenfield approach. Now, the company is thinking about optimization. “The SAP S/4HANA and GCP environment has given us the conditions — a strong foundation — to now think about how we can optimize our internal processes and tackle our biggest challenge: going digital for our new customer base.”
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders
Oikawa shared the following advice for fellow executives who are undergoing an SAP S/4HANA and cloud transformation project.
- Don’t add people to the IT team on technical prowess alone. The typical IT skill profile is someone with developer and programming skills. But Oikawa says a new skill set is needed in today’s constantly changing IT environment: the capacity to learn. IT and business alignment define the common buzzword “business transformation.” Hiring IT staff who understand business acumen and are willing to learn more, and pivot to new technologies as they arise, is essential to developing an agile team and resilient business model.
- Study the cloud. When you’re moving to a new architecture, don’t keep your processes the same, says Oikawa. Take the time to understand how your new architecture works, and then make adjustments to your technology and processes to take full advantage of your new environment.
- Make sure your service provider sees your challenge as their challenge. Oikawa emphasizes the importance of providers. “Keep them close and build good partnerships with your service providers. They should not be seen as just service providers. You really need to have partners focused on your challenge. So, you need to bring them together and make sure they know the challenge that you’re facing at the end — that they see your challenge as their challenge as well. If you are successful doing that, then you will have all the support that you need for your project internally and externally.”
Meet the Executive
Roberto Oikawa is the CTO of Casa dos Ventos, the biggest renewable energy company in Brazil.
Roberto has a consistent track record in managing, structuring, and turning around IT organizations. In his 20-year career, he has contributed to IT organizations of major retail and investment banks in Brazil, strategic consulting, and scientific governmental agencies.
Recently, Oikawa conducted a major SAP S/4HANA implementation in Casa dos Ventos, combined with a shift to a cloud-first strategy for its whole IT environment.