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‘SOMETIMES, THE GAP BETWEEN THE OUTDATED IT LANDSCAPE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES AND MODERN CLOUD-BASED ARCHITECTURE IS HUGE.’
To what extent is the energy and utility sector nowadays willing to make a digital transformation? Market analyst IDC is able to show some numbers: 41% of public utilities worldwide today make far-reaching strategic, technological and financial decisions to ensure that their organization is able to make a digital transformation in the coming years. What remains: six out of ten companies that, for whatever the reason may be, are not preparing for digital change.
Whether a company is ‘digitally lost’ or ‘digitally determined’, IDC states that every company faces a profound transformation journey. Consumers demand more and faster information and service with a rapid respond time. The interaction takes place online and on social media. Organizations that are not able to respond to the new expectations of customers in a flexible manner, will find it difficult to maintain themselves. The future belongs to the ‘digitally determined utilities’: this is also the theme for the lunch meeting that was recently organized by vertical solutions provider MECOMS in the lofty Park Hyatt hotel in Milan.
DIGITALLY DETERMINED UTILITIES
The setting of the event was pleasant: side by side at a round table, the managers of some twenty Italian public utilities shared their latest market and development trends in the area of IT in the sector. No product or sales pitch but instead an open conversation about business transformation, the importance of partnerships, digital globalization and local anchoring. The goal? To exchange fresh ideas and innovative solutions in order to gain market share in a digital society.
In the past, the utility market was barely competitive, remarks Johan Vandekerckhove, Chief Commercial Officer of MECOMS. “You will always find,” explains the CCO, “that the process of liberalizations happens in phases. It started in the early 2000s in Belgium and the Netherlands. Italy is currently undergoing an entirely new wave of liberalization and competitive growth. The companies that we had the pleasure to welcome at our event are exactly those companies that want to make use of this wave. Our target segment is therefore the challengers of the status quo: those companies that want to challenge the intransigence of the monopolies with a modern strategy, an innovative application architecture and an alternative way of working.”
A breath of fresh air through the utility landscape
MECOMS has specialized in supplying customer information systems – invoicing and customer care – for the utility sector for more than twenty years. How did the software provider manage to continue to offer a competitive solution throughout two decades? “The way in which you approach the customer is crucial,” says Vandekerckhove. “You can only make a difference with the larger players in the market if you make contact in a different way than they do. As a challenger utility you can bet everything on the “price” factor to attract new customers, but that is a difficult model. On the other hand, you can focus on contact quality. In that case you will focus all of your attention on the interaction with the customer, on the experience that the customer has with your systems, on the online channels that you offer, on the degree of flexibility and innovative products that you offer. It is precisely in that area that we add value.”
Focusing on the market from a competitive perspective is a condition for staying competitive and being able to work in flexible manner
“Many utility companies are struggling with this transformation and are often more concerned about retaining their customers than about the need to convince new customers of their value proposition and to have the courage to innovate,” Vandekerckhove continues. “Many of the energy and utility companies often have very outdated systems that have not been structurally modified for more than ten years. The gap between the possibilities of their current landscape and that of our modern cloud-based architecture is indeed very large.”
MECOMS has always focused on the market from a competitive perspective, says Vandekerckhove. “That is also a condition for staying competitive and being able to work in a flexible manner. Microsoft is naturally a driven partner to us that invests heavily in user-friendliness and standardization of processes: Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based platform that can respond to the most modern applications such as smartphone applications, web portals, chat bots and AI-linked applications. Our application works in the same way as an Office 365 or the user interface of Outlook. Customers are familiar with this, so the acceptance of the system is also faster.”
Think global, act local
At the opening of the Belgian and Dutch market, the Antwerp-based IT provider assisted companies such as Indexis and Delta to take the first steps in the liberalized market. “With both that package and the service we are very successful in neighboring countries,” says Vandekerckhove. “It has inspired us to think on a larger scale. In the early years we also took care of the implementation at the customer side, but it was never our ambition to do that worldwide. This has led to the idea of “think global, act local.”
The IT provider sees a mature and locally anchored partner channel as the first condition for being global. “We are a global software vendor and we deliver our cloud-based software package to our partners internationally. It is their role to configure and set up that package locally. We are convinced that you need that local perspective to be able to offer a service that really makes a direct impact,” says Vandekerckhove. “Customers trust us to radically change the way they work and how they operate their business. Subsequently, they will have to become convinced both objectively and emotionally that you are acting out of the right knowledge and expertise. And that the steps they take are effectively the right steps to help their business move forward. Of course it helps to share the same language and culture, but you also need to be familiar with local laws and regulations down to the smallest details. Consider, for example, the regulations for green energy certificates on the Belgian market, or the regional premiums and taxes or the legislation on protected customers.”
Partners as a channel for success
Today MECOMS is active in 18 countries, from Great Britain to Iceland, Japan and Singapore. In Italy, Accenture and X DataNet are the local implementation partners for the market. Sorgenia, one of the largest suppliers of gas and electricity in Italy, spoke at the event in Milan. “Four years ago, Sorgenia had virtually stopped growing as a business. In twelve months we have – in collaboration with our local partner Accenture – installed MECOMS as a combined ERP and meter-to-cash platform. All functionalities and business processes are now located in one integrated system, with one trusted user interface, one database and one business logic. In short, one interpretation of the truth. This digital revolution has ensured that the company portfolio tripled in a relatively short term.”
What’s so great, Johan Vandekerckhove concludes, is that Sorgenia is very satisfied with the result and that the company is therefore happy to announce its success story to the market. “That is what makes Sorgenia’s story so relevant to me: it not only demonstrates how digital transformation, local anchoring and collaboration can help meet new needs, but also that willingness to transform can be a proof point for success and profit.”
Do you have any questions about the solutions offered by MECOMS for the energy and utility sector? Please take a look at our platform.
Article by Bloovi Studio. The full, original, article in Dutch can be found HERE.
This is an Executive Lunch that IDC are organizing next May 16 in Milan at the Park Hyatt hotel (with lunch at the adjacent Restaurant VUN, two Michelin stars) entitled “Digitally Determined Utility: Building a sales business by focusing on technologies and customer experience “.
The meeting will be coordinated by Roberta Bigliani, IDC Vice President & Head of Energy, Government and Health Insights and aims to discuss how utility companies are facing the changing needs of consumers and how a technological transition is essential for provide the business with modern and flexible tools capable of embracing an entirely digital management of channels and customers with operational excellence in the meter-to-cash cycle.
In the long transition from simple commodity sellers to energy service providers, utilities are adapting to meet the needs and expectations of consumers who are increasingly aware, digital and demanding.
What tools, approaches and skills do you need?
The event is organized in collaboration with MECOMS and X DataNet.
Future of Utilities Summit 2019, held 26 & 27 March, features 100+ speakers on three different stages making the UK’s leading energy and water event bigger than ever before.
By striking a balance between cross-industry discussion and in-depth exploration into customer interactions, energy, and water, this year’s programme will provide the best environment for strategic consultation of all critical issues facing today’s decision-makers.
- Join industry leaders from all branches of electricity, gas and water networks to access insights from the full spectrum of the who’s who of utility infrastructure.
- Prepare your company for digital transformation with panelists from Centrica, Wessex Water, First Utility, and Cadent Gas who are leading industry disruption
- Out-of-industry experts from Ann Summers and John Lewis will help you plan your strategy with the customer of the future in mind
- Hear Ofwat, Ofgem, and BEIS’ plans for the future of the industry and ensure your business plan is as informed as your competitors
- Keep up-to-date with who’s who in the industry over a craft beer at our drinks reception.
Full details of the event can be found here…
Come and talk to us…
We have a ‘meet me pod’ – stand 4. Talking about MECOMS 365 and launching the new business consultancy packages.
BOOST18, the 3-day conference for the energy and utilities sector organized by MECOMS, welcomed 150 visitors in Antwerp from 9 till 11 October.
With industry stakeholders from Belgium and Netherlands attending and international stakeholders flying in from more than 14 counties, including US, Japan,Italy, Israel and even the Seychelles, we were delighted with this year’s attendance and the inspiring agenda. “We had keynote speakers from leading companies, like Microsoft, IDC, Nexxworks and GEN-I, who have illustrated the future of the energy sector at the cutting edge of business and technology”, says Johan Vandekerckhove, Chief Commercial Officer at MECOMS.
MECOMS is currently enjoying a strong worldwide growth with its flagship solution, MECOMS 365. Johan Vandekerckhove: “Energy and utility companies worldwide want to offer a better customer service in a more agile way, while reducing the cost to serve. Building on Microsoft Dynamics 365, MECOMS 365 is the application platform of the future that exactly serves those needs.”
About MECOMS 365
MECOMS 365 is a business support system for energy and utility companies that combines flexibility, efficiency and smart insights to drastically cut cost-to-serve. It enables utilities of any size to streamline business processes and combine high efficiency with first-class customer service.
Platform thinking has become a vital cornerstone for any CIO to address the new way of working, enhanced customer experience, digitization and overall increased demand of the end consumer while streamlining their operations to maintain a healthy cost to serve.
MECOMS 365 offers utilities a strong connected application platform based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 in a cloud first strategy that addresses these challenges.
As a vertical solution provider, MECOMS delivers their MECOMS 365 CE/CIS/MDM* solution to utilities giving customers access to the power and flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics 365 tailored to the specific needs of Energy and Utilities companies.
What does MECOMS 365 mean for me?
- A cloud first strategy is a bold statement. More and more utilities are benefitting from the agility of cloud based applications and infrastructure to innovate. 100% cloud based or a mixed hybrid strategy are a possibility with MECOMS 365.
- MECOMS 365 has embraced customer satisfaction and customer experience first in its design from day one. MECOMS 365 Customer Engagement allows utilities to connect to their customer via an omni-channel approach leveraging modern technology such as LiveAssist, Social Integration, our MECOMS Interactive Agent AI based chatbots and personalized Document Fullfillment. These channels can easily be adapted to the company identity, tone of voice and processes.
- A connected cloud ready platform enables a simplification of the IT landscape by giving the integration benefits of a cloud platform together with CRM and new applications like Power BI, Flow and Cortana AI.
- With Office365, you can leverage productivity and collaboration tools that work together in new ways that only Microsoft can deliver.
- With MECOMS 365 you benefit from the high quality security standards of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Azure.
- The MECOMS rich partner channel allows extending the platform with standard, proven components from companies such as November Five, CafeX, Formpipe and Dynamics Software. This drives simplification while maintaining openness and flexibility in the IT overall architecture.
- The new MECOMS 365 user experience brings a fully web enabled application. The concept of workspaces centralizing all the activities of a user for their specific role in an attractive dashboard that includes workflow status, KPI’s and other business intelligence information. All information displayed is actionable and allows users to control their business responsibilities efficiently.
- Existing customer can benefit from an attractive upgrade incentive to move to MECOMS 365.
“This is only a small preview of what MECOMS 365 brings to the table, at Boost18 the MECOMS Utility Conference hosted in Antwerp we will share and collaborate with our prospects, customers and partners on this exciting new chapter of our journey in Utilities. Over 150 utility professionals will network and experience the benefits of MECOMS 365 at our worldwide conference . It’s going to be an exciting year end.” says Johan Vandekerckhove, CCO MECOMS.
Visit www.mecoms.com/boost18 for more information and registration info.
(*) CE (Customer Engagement), CIS (Customer Information System), MDM (Meter Data Management)
The power of partnerships in a connected world.
MECOMS is proud to announce the next edition of our global conference for all MECOMS prospects, customers, partners and industry relations. MECOMS BOOST18 offers an extensive program that facilitates inspiration, learning, future vision, innovation and most important networking in a personal enjoyable environment. Register now.
Why do you need to attend MECOMS BOOST18?
This is an exceptional opportunity to get up-to-date and involved in the MECOMS journey to a digital cloud platform, to meet peers and experts and to learn from others’ best practices from our industry. During the keynote session, several industry specialists will sketch their view on the Energy and utilities market, technology, and innovation.
Stay tuned for the detailed schedule.
You will be able to experience MECOMS 365 with hands-on demonstration scenarios and use cases. In the demo labs, you will be able to see and experience innovative technology and business practices from our partners such as Microsoft, November Five, Dynamics Software, Lava Consulting, and Formpipe. There will be an opportunity to attend training courses to develop your MECOMS 365 knowledge and to connect with MECOMS 365 staff.
Whilst travel and hotel are at your expense, there are no costs involved in registering for the conference. Please register here and we’ll keep you posted on the detailed schedule.
As a reminder
- Get up-to-date and involved in the MECOMS 365 journey to a true digital cloud platform
- Strengthen relationships, networking and share best practices
- Learn from other companies using MECOMS
- Experience why MECOMS 365 is the‘right strategy for the future’
- Meet with experts
- Get involved with innovation on blockchain, machine learning and AI focused on energy and utilities