Meeting current customer demands won’t be enough in 2025, keynote speaker Calvin G. Butler Jr. said on Nov. 13, 2015, at the fourth annual Smith School Business Summit in Baltimore.
“Meeting the current demands of customers is only part of it,” said Butler, CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. “You need to think about where your customers are going, and you need to meet them there.”
About 500 faculty, staff, students, and working professionals attended the event, organized by the Office of Career Services at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Following Butler’s comments, Smith School professors moderated 11 panels focused on different aspects of “Workplace 2025.” Overall, the panels featured 45 business leaders from 40 companies.
“This is part of our effort to get out of the classroom and connect with the business community in our backyard,” said Smith School professor and assistant dean Jeffrey Kudisch, managing director of the Office of Career Services.
Baltimore Gas and Electric will turn 200 years old in June 2016, which gives the company a historical perspective. But Butler said the pace of change has accelerated in recent years. Before fielding questions from the audience, he outlined three keys for thriving in the coming years.
1. Know your customer: “Understanding your customer always has to be at the forefront,” Butler said. “You need people who have the willingness to get out there and say, ‘Teach me something new.’”
2. Embrace technology: “Technology serves as the intermediary between me and my customer,” Butler said. While older customers might want to call a toll free number for service, the rising generation expects to have everything available immediately on their smartphones. “The new generation today doesn’t want to talk to the utility company,” he said.
3. Decipher data: “We have more customer information than we know what to do with it,” Butler said. “But how am I using that data to better serve you?” He said business analysts are helping Baltimore Gas and Electric find ways to help customers lower their bills and find new energy applications.
Panelist Jack Levis, senior director of process management for UPS, agreed about the need for business analysts in workplace 2025. “Analytics is taking data from insights to a better decision,” he said. “If you get insight that does not turn into a better decision, that’s called trivia.”
Levis participated in a panel that explored the future of unstructured data — the kind that does not fit neatly into rows and columns on a spreadsheet. Other panels focused on energy, finance, women in leadership, social value creation, innovation, global mindset, entrepreneurship, health care, supply chain and the overlap between business and engineering.
The Smith School Business Summit was sponsored by Aldi, NewDay USA, Northrop Grumman, PepsiCo, and the Smith School’s Center for International Education and Business (CIBER). The event was hosted by the Office of Career Services.
- Daryl James, Office of Marketing Communications