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Powering the Markets of the Future amid Rapid Developments in Technology

Multiple Operators Suffer Damage to Fiber Networks from Hurricane Michael

Factbox: Hurricane Michael Impact Turns from Production Loss to Demand Destruction

Storm Tracker: More than 860,000 customers still in dark in Michael's wake

Factbox: Utilities, Oil Producers Brace for Hurricane Michael Along U.S. Gulf


Powering the Markets of the Future amid Rapid Developments in Technology

Traditional business models in most industries have followed a linear path with respect to human capital required for expansion – companies that wanted to expand hired more people. One of the challenges for companies that achieve scale but unavoidably see revenue growth slow is the eventual pressure on operating margins. Inevitably, innovation takes a back seat. On the employee side, there is not enough investment available for upskilling staff, which impacts morale. Only the “chosen few” are involved in innovative, high-impact projects – many employees are engaged in lower-value, mundane tasks and their skills are not fully utilized.

Due in large part to the impact technology has on our global economy and the ways businesses must adapt to thrive in this increasingly digital world, this paradigm must change.

Amid these rapid developments in technology, rising customer expectations and fundamental changes in the nature of financial markets, S&P Global sees a global economy full of opportunity. To capitalize on these exciting possibilities, we know that the intelligence we provide — our data, benchmarks and analytics — needs to be relevant and delivered in a way that makes it essential to our customers and to the markets. With this understanding, S&P Global is creating a path to tomorrow’s future by harnessing the power of leading-edge technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics.  We are committed to driving unparalleled value for our customers and giving all of our employees the means to have a profound impact on the world.

While we continue to build and advance our digital capabilities at S&P Global, we strongly believe that the most pivotal component of this evolution is our people. S&P Global is committed to ensuring our employees have every opportunity to grow in a dynamic technology environment. We are investing in new programs and resources for increasing employee technology acumen and enhancing the digital workplace. At the same time, we are being mindful of consistently attracting, recruiting and retaining high-quality and diverse technologists to forward new perspectives, ideas and skillsets to complement and elevate the current capabilities of our data scientists, engineers and other leading-edge professionals. 

Across the globe, technology increasingly augments and elevates our employees’ work. We’re keenly interested in exploring the promise of AI as a brain extender for our employees. What that means is that AI is not something that replaces them. It's not something that substitutes them. It actually accelerates our collective intelligence, and helps our people do what they are already doing but faster and more efficiently, and that’s very exciting.

Today, we have hundreds of software robots working alongside our employees — the robots do the mundane rule-based tasks, taking the “robot out of the human.” For example, in the past employees would have to clean and assimilate millions of data items, but today we have robots that do that. In many cases, our employees are doing higher-value tasks like providing interpretation and analysis on top of the assimilated data. Our journalists and news writers are supported by cognitive agents using natural language generation tools that cater to “plain vanilla” reports, including earnings news. This frees up our news writers to do more investigative and higher-value stories. Classification algorithms help us scan millions of articles and financial documents for relevancy and also extract key data items. The employees do not do these tasks anymore, but they pass on their knowledge to the models and train them — putting the “human into the bot.” All of this ensures better quality, higher efficiency, and a happier and engaged workforce.

By fully embracing the latest technology advancements and augmenting our in-house capabilities with strategic partnerships and acquisitions, we will drive our insights further, accelerating how we operate, how we deliver value for our customers, and how we power the markets of the future.



Multiple Operators Suffer Damage to Fiber Networks from Hurricane Michael

Communications providers are working to restore services in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael, but storm debris, power outages and significant fiber damage are hindering progress in those counties most devastated by the storm.

As of Oct. 14, a number of counties along the Florida Panhandle had more than half of their cell sites down, including Bay County — home of Panama City and Mexico Beach, described as "ground zero" of the storm by U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long — where 66.1% of cell sites were down. Similarly, neighboring Gulf County had 69.6% of cell sites down, according to data from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Based on the amount of damage in the area and ongoing power outages, it could be weeks before services are restored. Long said Oct. 12 that after search and rescue, restoring communications in impacted counties is among FEMA's top priorities.

"You have to be able to communicate to appropriately respond and we are trying to do everything we can to get the private sector vendors, the Verizon [Communications Inc.]'s of the world, to get in to try to get their systems back up and running," he said.

Long added, however, that the process is not easy. "There was a tremendous amount of debris. When you look at the damage in Mexico Beach, that is where the ocean rose potentially 14 feet … and shoved buildings out of the way. When you have that type of damage, it takes time to get in and go through," he said.

Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 hurricane with 155-mile-per-hour winds.

For its part, Verizon said the "vast majority" of Florida and Georgia service has been restored, with 99% of the company's network in Georgia in service and 97% of its network in Florida. But the company noted there are pockets, particularly near Panama City, where the damage is severe.

"The storm caused unprecedented damage to our fiber, which is essential for our network — including many of our temporary portable assets — to work. Our fiber crews are working around the clock to make repairs, and while they are making good progress, we still have work to do to get the fiber completely repaired," the company said Oct. 14.

Fiber is the connecting component of a network that carries data from point to point. It is necessary for Verizon's permanent and temporary cell sites to be operational. The company noted that while it has multiple fiber paths to carry data, "The severity and intensity of the storm caused damage to all duplicate routes in the Panama City and Panama City Beach area."

In terms of wireline services, the FCC said 291,300 subscribers remain out of service as of Oct. 14, including 205,643 subscribers in Florida. The figures were down from a day earlier, when a total of 337,223 subscribers were without service, including 233,843 in Florida.

The top residential video and broadband provider in Bay County is Comcast Corp., according to MediaCensus data from Kagan, a research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. Comcast, the largest cable operator in the U.S., said in an Oct. 12 statement that it is working to get Xfinity services back online.

"As power returns … and it becomes safe for our technicians and restoration crews, we will work to repair any damages affecting our network," the company said.

As of Oct. 15, more than 162,000 customers in Florida remained without power, including all 27,275 customers served by Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative. The cooperative said in an Oct. 12 Facebook Inc. post that its distribution system "suffered catastrophic damage"

In Gulf County, the top residential video provider is AT&T Inc.'s satellite video service DIRECTV, according to MediaCensus data, while the top residential broadband provider is Mediacom Communications Corp., the fifth-largest cable operator in the U.S.

Mediacom said Oct. 14 that its recovery efforts are underway but its network in Florida has 14 miles of severely damaged fiber near Walton County, as well as 25 miles of damaged fiber east of Panama City that is obstructing video transmission from Gulf County to Walton County.

"Our current priority remains focusing on repairing damage to our high-speed data transport network and main transmission facilities and repairing downed lines where we have access to the area. We have outages from widespread loss of commercial power along with downed lines, and structural damage throughout our systems," the cable operator said.



Factbox: Hurricane Michael Impact Turns from Production Loss to Demand Destruction

Houston, Oct. 11 2018 — Hurricane Michael made landfall at the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday with 155 mph winds, quickly destroying demand for power, natural gas and refined oil products. Shut-in oil production rose modestly from Tuesday to over 700,000 b/d, but the storm has stayed east of much of the region's production, which means supply should be back online quickly.

Meanwhile, the severity of the storm has surprised to the upside, which could a mean longer lasting and more severe impact on demand for power, natural gas, refined products and ultimately crude oil.

"We expect the impact on refined products demand to be below that of previous hurricanes in the Gulf Coast such as Harvey in 2017, as the region impacted by Michael has lower population density than Houston ... Nevertheless, the impacts are favoring the high side of our estimates given the sheer severity of the storm," said Claudio Giamberti, Head of Demand and Refining at S&P Global Platts Analytics.

As of 7 pm EDT, the eye of Michael was moving over southwestern Georgia with maximum sustained winds still at 100 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to move northeast across the Carolinas before heading back out to sea Friday morning.



Storm Tracker: More than 860,000 customers still in dark in Michael's wake

Highlights

Florida, Georgia, Carolinas hardest hit

Peakloads down about 20% on week

Houston, Oct. 11 2018 — As the remnants of Hurricane Michael churned through the South Thursday, it cut power to more than 870,000 customers, shaving large chunks off daily peakloads and, while more than 30,000 technicians began working to restore service.

The center of Tropical storm Michael was about 25 miles south of Greensboro, North Carolina, as of 2 pm EDT Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said. It still had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, moving northeast at 23 mph with an expected move offshore from southeastern Virginia Thursday night.

Since it made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle between 1 pm and 2 pm EDT Wednesday, the storm left more than 860,000 people without power, but some of those services have been restored.



Factbox: Utilities, Oil Producers Brace for Hurricane Michael Along U.S. Gulf

Houston, Oct. 09 2018 — With Hurricane Michael expected to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm Wednesday, offshore oil and gas producers were busy evacuating crews and shutting in production Monday. By mid-day, nearly 20% of Gulf of Mexico oil production had been taken offline. That number will likely have risen when reported Tuesday as operators continued to shut down platforms Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, just 24 days after Hurricane Florence made landfall, electric utilities were gearing up for Hurricane Michael restoration efforts by staging crews and supplies in the storm's path. Lost power demand is likely to have a knock-on effect on natural gas demand and prices.

After it brings over 100 mph winds to the western-most portion of Florida, Hurricane Michael is expected to turn northeast, bringing wind and rain to Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas before heading back out to sea. Thiis article covers the key takeaways across commodities.