Meet Steven Armstrong - our new Head of SaaS

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We are thrilled to welcome Steven Armstrong as the new leader of our Software as a Service division at NM Group. Steven brings a wealth of experience, having led sales in the USA for a leading AI company for the past two years. Prior to that, he was a key member of the team that took the Manchester-based start-up Blueprism to a $1.6 billion valuation in just four years.

With a 20-year management career that began at Microsoft as a member of the Worldwide Leadership Team, Steven has successfully built sales teams across both Europe and the USA. Now, he joins NM Group to spearhead the launch of the new Caydence AAR platform, which is designed to help the US Power sector undergo a digital transformation towards a smarter and greener power distribution network.

We sat down with Steven to ask him a few questions about his new role.

The recent FERC Order 881 requires utilities to implement Ambient-Adjusted Ratings (AAR) by July 2025 to ensure more accurate transmission line ratings based on real-time weather conditions. What do you see as the main challenges utilities face in meeting FERC 881 compliance?

Steven: Ensuring compliance with FERC 881 within the stipulated timeline of July 2025 involves implementing technical and operational changes but also requires new levels of reporting as the change from seasonal to hourly ratings will generate a great deal more work for operational staff. Developing robust operational protocols and procedures to handle the new dynamic nature of these ratings will mean that power companies will need to give sufficient time to staff involved to get the procedures right, and this can only come after implementing the software. Continuous monitoring and adjustment of the system to maintain reliability and safety standards are crucial. The shift from static to ambient line ratings necessitates managing a significantly larger volume of data, which will present its own challenges not only to the operational team but also to IT. Transmission line ratings must now be updated hourly, taking into account forecasted ambient temperatures, which means handling and processing vast amounts of real-time data. 

Additionally, Order 881 requires transparency in the methodologies used for determining line ratings, which can necessitate revisiting and potentially overhauling existing methodologies to meet the new standards.

That sounds like a lot of complex challenges. Can you share more about how NM Group’s solutions specifically help address these issues and support utility companies in meeting the new regulations?

Steven: We are a company of engineers steeped in the power industry and so we understand the needs of the people who are going to make AAR work. We are the only company to have added an automation capability to our AAR solution. It is essential that power companies make sure that both internal and external reports are instantaneous and reliable without causing an additional burden on already stretched operational staff, we recognize that and so have included automation of reports and a comprehensive analytics and dashboarding capability to ease the burdens at the front line of operations.

Our fast-path, assisted implementation is designed to get our customers up and running well in advance of the deadline so that operational staff have the time needed to consider the process and reporting requirements properly and the time to make sure that they are comfortable with the new way of doing things.

Moving on to a more personal note, what are some of your passions or hobbies that you enjoy outside of work?

Steven: I am an avid adventure traveler, which has fuelled my commitment to both environmental conservation and social equity. I use my adventure travels to raise funds for the charities I support, usually doing something totally silly as a result of a dare. I recently ran from Vienna to Copenhagen with a group of friends for a UK children’s charity, I’ve rafted down the Mekong River to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and danced with Zulus for Feed Africa. I have been committed to a green agenda since 2000 and support the WWF. I published my Carbon Footprint for the first time this year using WWF’s calculator. I work with the Royal Albert Hall’s Diversity and Equality team to support LGBT people visiting the hall, and before I moved to Manchester, I was also actively involved in London Pride. I have visited over 70 countries now, which is still less than half of the total, so I have much more traveling to do. As you might guess, I don’t have a television. I gave the last one I had to a friend and still haven’t found the time to get another. I feel that my interests not only enrich my personal life but also inspire my professional endeavors. Being able to contribute to a more sustainable future in the energy sector will be a wonderful challenge that I’m looking forward to embracing.

For any inquiries or to connect with Steven directly, you can reach him at Steven.Armstrong@nmgroup.com.