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3Qs with Tom Martin, Managing Director of Product Management

As TROVE’s Managing Director of Product Management, Energy & Utilities, Tom Martin strategically aligns internal and external stakeholders to deliver new analytics and situational intelligence products for clients. Prior to TROVE, Tom led the Emerging Grid Technology Team at Pacific Gas & Electric, leading the implementation of new technology and analytics in support of PG&E’s Electric Operations as it looked to reduce operational costs, improve safety, and increase reliability.

Download a PDF of 3Qs with Tom Martin

1. Welcome to TROVE. Tell us about yourself.

I’m an electrical engineer turned people leader and strategic leader. While at PG&E, I drew on my technical roots to focus on how we as a company could constantly drive new value to the business.

For the majority of my time at PG&E, I led the Emerging Grid Technology Team, which focused on how we could use data, analytics, and new technologies to help improve electric grid operations. It was terrifically exciting and important work, preparing the company for all the changes happening to the grid while also unlocking the opportunities resident in distributed energy resources (DER), battery storage, and other clean technologies.

We ran a lot of pilot projects and weren’t afraid to explore cutting-edge emerging technologies like DERMS (distributed energy resource management systems). In fact, that’s how I got introduced to TROVE. I worked closely with TROVE on building a breakthrough bottom-up load-forecasting tool that leveraged meter-level micro-forecasts, aggregating them up from the transformer to the switch all the way back to the substation to produce a much more accurate macro-forecast. TROVE really helped us nail it, resulting in a super-granular view of what was really happening on the distribution grid as opposed to the more generic result generated by the traditional top-down approach that evenly “peanut-butter spreads” assumptions across the grid.

2. How will your prior work at PG&E inform what you do at TROVE?

Let me answer this question by sharing my three key responsibilities while at PG&E leading the emerging grid technology team:

First, I had to keep a pulse on the latest technologies, while also understanding the pain points of my internal customers (i.e., other operational groups within PG&E). My job then was to match up new analytics/new technologies with these problems to identify where our utility could benefit most.

Second, I acted as chief “dot connector.” I was the one working across our electric operations, IT, and customer groups to identify  the real, tangible, capturable benefit, essentially answering the fundamental question: “What’s the point of trying to implement this new technology?”

The answer couldn’t be: “Because it is cool!”  It needed to actually improve the operations, or drive out costs, or improve safety and reliability, and it needed to benefit our company and our customers.

Third, it was up to me to make sure we executed, running the project, coordinating with vendor partners, and engaging with end users to ensure the product worked, was used, and was useful, making sure we actually got value out of our investment.

I see these three responsibilities being just as important now – perhaps even more essential – in my role at TROVE. I have an amazing opportunity to bring my background and skill set from a company like PG&E, which was constantly pushing the boundaries of the new and innovative. I get to bring this to an exciting, smart, and driven company like TROVE and do these same things: continue to keep my finger on the pulse of new technology, help TROVE clients work effectively across their operations, IT, and customer groups to capture real tangible benefit using these technologies, and support that execution to make sure it is done well.

3. Describe your role at TROVE and your goals for the position.

My role as Managing Director of Product Development, Energy & Utilities is two-fold.

First, it’s working directly with clients on the execution of predictive data science. How do we make sure the end results of our predictive-analytics work deliver a meaningful benefit? That we don’t just work with an excited and engaged client to produce a report that ends up sitting on a shelf because it never moved from proof-of-concept to implementation. That’s where I’m really going to draw on all my great PG&E experiences to make sure we at TROVE are capturing as much value as possible with every project. Not just meeting the technical goals of the project, but helping drive value-creating predictive-analytics projects into implementation.

Second is continuing to stay engaged in the cutting edge of where the industry is moving, continually identifying high-priority use cases and commonalities across utility clients so we can bake solutions to those pain points into our Solvers. I’ll also be staying engaged with conferences such as Utility Analytics Week, where I serve on the Program Board, DistribuTECH, and CLEAResult’s Energy Forum, that attract a collection of like-minded energy and analytics professionals and provide an environment where everyone can learn and grow from what others are doing to help move this special industry forward.

As far as my goals go, I measure success first by ensuring we’ve captured the value the client expected. There are plenty of new technology projects that get completed and work just fine, but the technology ends up sitting there either because it was ahead of its time, or the company had a shift in its priorities, or it was “technically right” but not implementable. Many leading utilities are on a mission to become more data-driven in their operations and my goal is to ensure that what we are delivering actually improves those operations.  

Additionally, I measure success by the number of times the client comes back for more. That’s how you know you are actually delivering value. If something is just cool or interesting, it will fall lower on the priority list. When we actually improve the way our client is able to do its job, and we make it easier, cheaper and more successful, our client is going to keep coming back.

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