What does it mean to become a digitally determined retailer?
Digital transformation might be the most hyped buzzword, with customer experience being a close second. However when digital is not considered as a project but as an integral part of the business model and the DNA of a company, it is a game changer.
IDC interviewed Alessandro Bertoli, CIO at Sorgenia, on the major steps of this transformation journey, which involved deploying modern ERP, customer care, and billing capabilities, as well as migrating the entire IT infrastructure to the cloud. Building on strategic partnerships with Accenture, Ferranti Computer Systems, and Microsoft, Sorgenia’s transformation program was a success. The company now boasts a set of business metrics that place it at the top end of the Italian market and is ready for a new competitive season on the Italian energy market.
The main driving force behind Sorgenia’s IT transformation was its new all-digital growth strategy, set in the wider context of the upcoming end of regulated energy prices in Italy.
With its legacy systems clearly unable to deliver on its growth plan or customer experience ambitions, Sorgenia saw the opportunity to start with a clean slate and began evaluating a change of its entire IT landscape.
- Step 1: Find the Right Strategic Partners
- Step 2: Deploy a New Engine to Power the Business
- Step 3: Fine-Tune Processes to Become the Best in Class
- Step 4: Migrate to the Cloud for Further Scale and Flexibility
As mentioned, Sorgenia managed to consistently improve its business metrics since going live on Microsoft Dynamics and MECOMS. The company now boasts a set of meter-to-cash key performance indicators (KPIs) that put it in a league of its own, in Italy and beyond.
Regarding Sorgenia’s digital ambition, supported by its new platform and digital channels, the company managed to onboard 100,000 digital clients in 2018 alone. Sorgenia’s integrated platform helped digitize the contact-to-contract process and streamline the meter-to-cash process cycle, while indirectly acting as an anti-churn mechanism through good billing, flawless payment, and better customer service.
For the past year, Sorgenia managed to consistently keep its unbilled-for energy rate under 0.2% of its points of delivery versus 2.0% when the system went live. This was done by establishing and improving pre- and mid-billing controls as well as post-billing quality checks. In addition, the company boasts a very solid 1% unpaid-for energy rate.
“With KPIs like these, it is safe to say that when it comes to billing quality and collection, there is no company as good as Sorgenia in the Italian market right now.” said Bertoli
MECOMS365 brings the capabilities of the Microsoft power platform in a vertical energy and utility context to your doorstep. This enables new role-tailored use cases that drive efficiency while reducing costs. Connected apps using low code creates opportunity and is not expensive.
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Empower your developers to seamlessly extend app capabilities using Azure Functions, build custom connectors to support tailored scenarios or legacy systems, and embed apps directly into websites or other tools—such as SharePoint—to create integrated solutions.
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Consolidate business data from multiple sources into Common Data Service for Apps—a built-in, cloud-based storage option—and then build apps that reference this data. Define business rules and logic that run automatic workflows, validate data, and drive business processes.
Want to know more? Read it here.
Rock Solid Technologies Partners With Strattam Capital To Grow Business In North America
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO and AUSTIN, TEXAS – November 29, 2018 –Rock Solid Technologies (Rock Solid), a leading software and IT services company in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, today announced a majority growth investment from Strattam Capital. The investment will enable Rock Solid to accelerate growth in the North American market for their civic engagement platform, RESPOND©.
“Over the past few years, and more significantly in the past four months, Rock Solid has been growing outside Puerto Rico. Just a few weeks ago, we announced wins in key cities in Canada and the United States. With the support of Strattam Capital, we are confident that in the next few years Rock Solid, which has been developing software solutions in Puerto Rico for the past 15 years, will become a top player in the global market” said Richard C. Brown, Rock Solid’s president.
RESPOND© is a civic engagement platform that provides a centralized database which facilitates the connection of citizens with government. Serving over 7 million citizens, the web-based solution is configured according to the requirements of local governments and takes advantages of predefined and configurable workflows that have been built through the years in partnership with government agencies, countries, municipalities, and public corporations in the Caribbean, Latin America, Canada, and the United States.
Additionally, the partnership will allow Rock Solid to create 100 new jobs in Puerto Rico over the next five years, mostly in software engineering and information systems consulting. With offices in both San Juan and Austin, Texas, Rock Solid has 134 employees and has been ranked as one of the leading Information Technology companies in the Caribbean. The announcement was made today at Rock Solid headquarters in the Economic Development Bank building, in the presence of Governor Ricardo Roselló Nevares and Kyle Reesing from Strattam Capital. Rock Solid senior executives included President Richard Brown and Vice-president Ángel L. Pérez.
“Through their deep domain expertise, Rock Solid software enables government agencies to better serve their citizens,” said Strattam Capital Managing Partner Bob Morse. “We are impressed with the leading engineering capabilities they have built and are excited to be investing with the Rock Solid leadership team to help bring these products to a wider audience across the U.S. and Canada.”
Ángel L. Pérez, Rock Solid’s Vice President, stressed that this new capital injection will allow them to continue to promote products developed in Puerto Rico, which are winners of global awards and based on Microsoft Dynamics 2018. “We have demonstrated that our local talent can compete globally, attracting capital to fund our growth is crucial to our expansion strategy” said Ángel L. Pérez.
“This company, highlighted by the development of high quality software solutions for clients from the public and private sectors, is undoubtedly an example of how a Puerto Rican company can evolve and reach new markets in the United States, Central America and Canada. Its continued success should serve as an example for new companies that seek to maximize their services, “said Governor Ricardo Roselló Nevares.
This transaction was facilitated by. IT ExchangeNet, a leading Microsoft channel mergers and acquisitions firm.
About Rock Solid Technologies, Inc.
Founded in 1997, with offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Austin, Texas, Rock Solid Technologies is a software and IT services company recognized as one of the top software engineering companies in Puerto Rico, the United States and Latin America.
Rock Solid was recently selected to provide Respond©, a citizen services software (311), for the cities of New Orleans, LA and Winston-Salem, NC. New Orleans joins the list of cities where Rock Solid Technologies has a presence. In addition, the city of Burlington in Ontario, Canada and more than thirty-five municipalities in Puerto Rico use the RESPOND© tool as their platform to offer residents the ability to report issues and open requests for citizen services. Rock Solid has managed to position RESPOND© as the official citizen service system for the Panamá 311 National Call Center and the Puerto Rico 311.
The company is a Microsoft Gold Partner. For more information, visit: www.rocksolid.com.
About Strattam Capital
Strattam Capital is a private equity firm with an innovative and focused approach to scaling established business IT companies. Our team’s alignment and engagement practices are designed to deliver a better future for our companies. Strattam has offices in Austin and San Francisco. To learn more visit www.strattam.com.
The Italian retail gas and electricity market will be fully liberalized from 2020. This second step after initial market opening in 1999 creates a dynamic vibe in the Italian energy retail market.
Customers’ expectations are increasing, while at the same time government regulations are pushing legacy billing and meter data management software far beyond what they were originally designed to do. Continuous patchwork and investment in legacy systems is putting suppliers in a constant mode of firefighting, without being able to offer the improvements their customers demand.
Italian energy retails expect customers switching rate to grow significantly and therefore increase their customer base. Therefore, a solid back-office solution is required to support customer growth without increasing back-office cost.
MECOMS 365 addresses these challenges, by offering a total platform based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 that takes care of all the business processes you need to run as a power and/or gas supplier. Local knowledge, local processes and local context are crucial for market success. To achieve this X Data Net and MECOMS have signed a strategic technology partnership to further strengthen the MECOMS 365 offering in the Italian market.
The power of partnerships is an important element in the MECOMS go to market strategy. Think global, and act local has always been the mantra of operations within MECOMS.
Combining the strength of the MECOMS 365 application platform with the proven track record of X DataNet opens new opportunities for energy retailers. This is an exciting new step in our European growth.
Who is MECOMS
MECOMS is a Ferranti company and is the result of more than 40 years of experience in the utility industry. We develop products and solutions for energy and utility companies. With offices and a network of certified partners across the globe, we offers worldwide capabilities for successful, on-time implementations with outstanding training, support and services. We have facilities in Belgium, Singapore & the UK.
Renowned industry analysts, such as Gartner and IDC, recommend MECOMS as a major solution for energy and utility companies. MECOMS is refreshingly different and empowers utilities to outsmart the competition. Many successful implementations prove this at utility companies around the world.
Who is X DataNet
X DataNet is headquartered in Mirandola (Italy). Since 1995, the company creates innovative software solutions and is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
X DataNet has been building IT solutions for the Italian energy market for more than 15 years and collaborates with big companies and banks in order to support digital transformation. In a dynamic and competitive context, X DataNet invests resources and money in research, development and training to give strength to projects, ideas and new technologies in order to satisfy its customers’ demands in concrete and measurable ways.
Vaanster and MECOMS have decided to enter into a strategic relationship for the implementation of the MECOMS application platform for the needs of handling customer administration and invoicing for Vaanster customers.
This cooperation fits in with the proposed strategy of MECOMS with regard to the heat market. The Netherlands has started an accelerated reduction of its gas production in Groningen in order to achieve a complete shutdown in 2030. Gas will be used less for, among other things, heating and hot water, but more will be spent on savings, the use of residual heat and the use of other sustainable heat sources. Here, more attention is being paid to the use of district heating networks.
MECOMS responds to the increasing demand for a standard platform to handle customer processes within the heat sector in an efficient and user-friendly manner. This heat platform can be used for both smaller and larger heat companies. The platform provides for the various conditions for the supply of heat and allows for scaling in the growing heat market in the Netherlands. Here the customer experience is very important, offering self-service applications in a digital strategy is of course an essential part.
Who is VAANSTER?
Vaanster is the market leader in the Netherlands in the supply of sustainable heat and cold to private and business customers. To this end, we take care of the realization and exploitation of ATES projects and supply heat and cold to more than 10,000 private customers on a daily basis. They do this with individual and collective heat pump systems. With the tightening of the current regulations no new construction projects are realized that are not sustainable. Vaanster is ready for further growth of exploitation projects. By investing in sustainable energy applications they want to contribute to the sustainability of the Dutch energy supply. Durable, reliable and affordable.
Who is MECOMS?
MECOMS is a Ferranti company specialized in the energy and utility market. For over 40 years they provide quality services in the sector. MECOMS is an application platform focused on, among other things, the handling of customer administration and invoicing based on Microsoft Dynamics 365. Based in Antwerp, the organization focuses on the market in the Netherlands and Belgium and in international context they supply their customers via implementation partners.
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)
FERRANTI IS GEARING UP TO A MORE CUSTOMER-ORIENTED ORGANIZATION AS A BASIS FOR GROWTH STRATEGY
A brand new IT company was established in Antwerp in 1976: Ferranti Computer Systems. No one could have predicted at the time that more than 40 years later, the same company would emerge as a leading IT player, with hundreds of customers at home and abroad. Ferranti has achieved this impressive track record by working together with customers at all times on the strategic front.
Today, in 2018, the concept of “computerization” (IT) is acquiring a completely different meaning than before. Customers tend to see technology more and more as a means to real value creation so as to achieve their corporate strategy: to expand an agile organization; implement new services, new business models and new processes across company boundaries; and, if at all possible, less complex for the end user.
In this challenging environment, Ferranti is determined to rise to the occasion. With the support of a strong shareholder, we are opting for a growth strategy with resolve. We already have the right DNA for that purpose. Close involvement in the strategy and processes of our customers is now more important than ever before.
We have therefore decided to expand our strategy in a way that is geared more to your unique and changing needs: with three strong brands, each with its own identity, that exude focus and corporate culture, targeting our most successful market segments:
- MECOMS mecoms.com – the application platform of the future for energy and utility companies;
- Silta silta-ict.be – your reliable ICT and infrastructure partner with Silta Cloud, Silta Connect and Silta Control;
- FrontForce frontforce.be – a provider of real time, company critical solutions through various product lines: FrontForce Mobility, FrontForce Data & IoT, FrontForce Chatbot & AI, FrontForce Supervision (SCADA) and FrontForce Bespoke. The state-of-the-art solution for the fire brigade in particular will from now on be called FrontForce Emergency.
MECOMS, Silta and FrontForce now form three strong, innovative entities under the auspices of Ferranti, backed by a strong shareholder.
Ernst Nijkerk, CEO, Ferranti: “MECOMS, Silta and FrontForce operate at the boundary of business and ICT. Our customers can henceforth count on an even more intensive focus and reinforced capacity to innovate as a response to their specific challenges.”
By now, you probably have heard about MECOMS already: our solution for suppliers and retailers in the utility sector has been proven to help serving customers in a better and cleaner way. And now, MECOMS R4 has arrived. But what is so different about this new and improved version? We’re more than glad to sum it up for you!
It’s the fastest release ever
No need to elaborate much more: performance benchmarks have shown that the release has approached warp speed when compared with the earlier R1, R2 and R3.
It’s always compatible with MIA
MIA, the chatbot that’s our own generation cognitive call center agent, stands for MECOMS Interactive Agent. No need to tell you (but we’ll do it anyway, just to make sure), that this newest innovation in our product offering is always compatible with MECOMS R4- and vice versa. This way, we keep on paving the road to next-level customer service.
MECOMS R4 connects seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Better, even: by this strong integration with Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft itself recommends MECOMS as thé preferred solution for utility companies all over the world.
R4 has integrated Lasernet
Easier put: this means the possibility of multichannel communication. Interaction with customers has never been easier because of the native integration with Lasernet: this makes sure you can coordinate your messaging, tone of voice and information across all your channels – which will have a closer relationship to your customer as a direct result.
The modeling of discount models has never been easier
With the discount management function, it has never been easier to go to the market in a quick and easy manner. Next to this, you can make use of Excel-resembling formulas and function to model your own rules.
It’s an extended support model…
… meaning that the R4 will be supported ‘till at least 2023!
The self-service portal
The self-service portal has gotten a complete make-over, to make sure everyone gets a top-notch user experience. Every single important use case is covered within this improved portal, next to a completely new custom user registration and creation.
The MECOMS R4 comes out of its box with a customer portal – but no need to worry: it also has the necessary web services so it can be connected with your own. Whatever you prefer!
Want to know more about MECOMS R4 – or would you like to request a demo? Make sure to contact us!
More than 1.2 million eligible businesses and other non-household customers in England can now choose their supplier of water and wastewater retail services.
MECOMS™ Customer Care & Billing is fully compliant and enables companies like Water Plus to outsmart their competitors.
“Competition will deliver more choice, better service and product innovation for business customers across the UK, which will raise the bar for all market participants.” (1)
“The market will work like many other open utility markets (such as telecoms, electricity and gas). Retail suppliers will buy wholesale services, (the physical supply of water and/or removal of wastewater), and offer a package to sell to eligible customers. Regional water companies will continue to serve non-eligible and household customers.” (2)
Here is what some of the retailers had to say about the biggest moment in the water industry’s history since privatisation: read the Utility Week article. (1)
Or visit the Ofwat website for more information on the market changes. (2)
If you follow the tech news, you’ve probably picked up on it already: bots are the interface of the future. They’re increasingly intelligent, and they’re here to stay.
Thanks to technological improvements and some hefty investments from the world’s biggest technology players, (chat)bots or conversational interfaces are ready to revolutionise the way we communicate digitally. At Ferranti, we’re always looking into the ways technology can improve utility provider’s communication with their customers, so it should come as no surprise that we have an announcement to make!
Meet MIA! Wait, who is MIA?
MIA stands for MECOMS Interactive Agent! She is your next generation cognitive call centre agent, or as we like to say it, your Innovation Assistant.
We’re creating her as a real innovation in our product offering, in order to enable energy retailers to provide better customer service at a much lower cost than your current call centre.
What can MIA do for you and your customers? As a chatbot (you can read more about chatbots here), she can help your customers with most of their questions, on multiple channels (chat, Facebook, e-mail, SMS, …) and in multiple languages. She can answer both basic questions – the kind that you would today cover in your FAQ – in a more interactive way, and guide customers through more complex questions or actions because she can access customer details like contracts, bills, or meter readings when prompted. And as a good call centre employee, she will also detect emotion and ask for people’s feedback, helping you improve your processes.
Why did we build MIA?
As we mentioned earlier, the utility sector has struggled with balancing great customer service with a manageable cost to serve. And while customer’s expectations are now higher than ever before, many utility providers find it hard to keep up.
As a digital provider for the utility sector, we’re always looking into the latest and best tools to improve these situations. We recently included our own, high-quality, customisable self-service platform as a part of our flagship product MECOMS, but we’re already looking into the future – and conversational interfaces or bots are going to play an increasingly large role there.
We think intelligent bots will be instrumental in upping the standards for customer care. Imagine a world without music on hold…
Down to business: let’s talk details
A bot like MIA is your ideal call centre employee. She’s available 24⁄7 and can handle an unlimited amount of customers (with sufficient infrastructure). Customers never have to wait to talk to her, and when they do, MIA is knowledgeable, friendly and patient. She can also analyse language patterns and keywords to detect when customers are unhappy or frustrated and can act accordingly.
You can use MIA to automate repetitive situations and questions. She doesn’t mind answering the same simple question time and time again, which means she can take care of all of your most common customer interactions without increasing the size of your call centre – no matter how many customers you serve, or how much you grow as a business. This means human brain power can be allocated where it can make a difference – in fact, certain writers and thinkers, like Steven Van Belleghem, have suggested the idea of human contact as a premium service in the future! And Microsoft names research by Gartner, stating that 85% of all customer interactions won’t require human customer service reps by the end of this decade, as one of the reasons they’re investing heavily in AI technology.
Another benefit of bots is that they are malleable: when given the right input, they can learn and adapt to become the perfect face for your company. You can train MIA to get to know your customers, speak their language and use your company’s tone of voice, business rules and best practices. Of course, she already has a strong knowledge of the utility industry – that’s a given!
The future is now, and it’s filled with … bots
Perhaps most importantly, we think MIA will put our utility clients on the right track for the future. Conversation is the UI of the future; virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, will increasingly become the agent through which customers get their information. This opens up a whole new world for customer service, and with MIA, you’ll be ready to rise to the occasion.
“This is the future of customer care.”
– Andrej Šajn, COO Gen-I –
To ensure this future-proof philosophy from a technical perspective, we chose to build MIA using Microsoft Cognitive services. This platform has been announced as Microsoft’s primary focus area for the coming years, which means MIA can rely on the continuous investments of the market leader in artificial intelligence.