DTE Energy has aspired for the past several years to be the best-operated energy company in North America. To help achieve this goal, the Detroit-based diversified energy company is immersed in the Lean Six Sigma methodology and is continuously benchmarking its operations to improve its performance and achieve operational excellence.

Coming out of the economic downturn of 2008, DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerald M. Anderson has since added another ingredient to its recipe for achieving and sustaining operational excellence. The company has committed to being a force for growth in the communities in which it serves. This includes partnering with local companies and making them an integral part of DTE Energy’s supply chain.

“As a company, we’re very connected to our community,” said Steven Ambrose, Vice President & Chief Information Officer at DTE Energy. “We’re a firm believer that a rising tide lifts all ships.”

Ambrose will be one of the distinguished speakers at HMG Strategy’s 2017 Detroit CIO Executive Leadership Summit on June 1st.

Although Ambrose describes DTE Energy as a company that’s predominantly risk averse, he acknowledges that this trait can sometimes manifest itself as a liability if the company needs to innovate differently or take on some initiatives that carry greater risk than company leaders are accustomed to taking.

This awareness has prompted Ambrose and his team to work closely with DTE Energy’s local supply chain to leverage the differentiated value that its regional IT partners bring to bear.

For instance, DTE Energy partnered with Vectorform, a developer of digital products and experiences, to create the DTE Insight app, a mobile app that allows customers to instantly measure energy consumption in their homes. The app also enables consumers to control energy usage in their homes, identify where energy is being wasted, and apply these insights to reduce their costs.

The DTE Insight app was a first for the energy industry and the first step in a partnership between DTE Energy and Vectorform that has continued to blossom. The two companies have formed a joint venture company called Powerley to market a version of Insight to utilities in other markets.

Another innovative development between the two companies includes partnering on the creation of virtual reality training for DTE Energy’s technicians to experience a number of simulated work environments, such as conducting electrical repairs at considerable heights and performing gas line shut-offs.

To help DTE Energy forge valuable partnerships like the one it has with Vectorform, Ambrose encourages his team to develop relationships with their regional partners and understand how the ecosystem is developing.

“Don’t just look at the transaction,” said Ambrose. “Get to know the people. Learn about the company’s business model and where our companies have mutual interests and opportunities.”

Meanwhile, working with boutique technology firms in the Detroit area has paid other dividends to DTE Energy.

“All companies have downtime or unused capacity with their project team members,” said Ambrose. “If a partner has someone on their bench for 10 days, I often have bite-sized work for a week or two where I can use such people. It’s an arrangement that works really well for both companies.”


To hear additional insights from Steven Ambrose and other thought leaders at the 2017 Detroit CIO Executive Leadership Summit, click here.