iFactor: Powering Utilities with Connected Technologies

Shazir Khan, CEO
Utility companies are challenged today by rapidly evolving technologies and growing customer expectations for communications. One company that is helping to address these issues is iFactor, a company that offers a variety of customer communication tools such as outage maps, mobile apps and proactive alerts. What makes iFactor unique is that they work exclusively with utility companies. “Unlike solution providers that work across verticals, our background and sole focus on the utility industry gives us a unique understanding of utilities, their back-end systems and the processes they utilize,” says Shazir Khan, CEO, iFactor.

One of iFactor’s offerings for utilities is a comprehensive automated alert and preference management platform. Taking information from the utility’s back- end systems such as their OMS, CIS and CRM, iFactor can send proactive email, voice, text message, or mobile app alerts about outages, billing, payments, and energy usage. This solution also supports two-way text messages, allowing customers to report outages and request and receive information such as their account balance or outage status.

As companies in the utilities space move from traditional communication channels such as mail and voice to newer modes like email and social media, they have discovered a need for a new way to organize and maintain customer preferences for communications. iFactor ad- dresses this need with the preference center built into iFactor’s Notifi alert system. This preference center takes the bur- den off the utility by allowing customers to select their communication preferences and keep their contact information up-to- date via their utility’s website or mobile application.

Deployed at more than 35 utilities in North America, iFactor’s Storm Center maps are the leading outage maps in the industry. “We integrate each map with the utility’s outage management system of choice, utilizing the information from the utility’s system to provide information such as number of customers affected, customers served, estimated restoration time, and outage cause,” affirms Khan.
The map provides a location for utilities to communicate more general information about storms, restoration efforts, or scheduled outages using a map banner. The map platform can also be utilized to share information about infrastructure improvements, smart grid rollouts, gas leaks and other information.

iFactor Mobile apps provide a comprehensive solution for utilities wanting to offer customers a mobile solution. Within the apps, utilities can provide out- age maps, outage reporting, proactive alerts, and access to tools such as real- time energy data and home automation solutions.

“We are able to create solutions that not only provide customers with real- time energy usage from the utility's smart meters, but also allow customers to take action to reduce energy consumption by controlling certain outlets and thermo- stats in their homes,” asserts Khan. “We’re constantly looking to include new technologies in our products,” reveals Khan. For instance, as smartphone features have expanded, iFactor has incorporated GPS information and photo reporting capabilities into their apps so that information such as GPS coordinates and photos of issues are included along with reports. This offering helps improve the outage reporting process for customers and makes the information more valuable for utilities. In addition, iFactor has embraced technologies such as cloud ser- vices to make their products as scalable as possible, while remaining cost-effective. “Using Amazon Web Services as the host for many of our implementations allows us to pass along cost savings, and pay only for the actual capacity used by the system, as opposed to constantly maintaining the maximum needed capacity,” asserts Khan. Employing cloud computing has also allowed the company to set up and maintain implementations remotely, minimizing the need for on-site work.

Moving forward, the company aims to help utilities navigate the ongoing changes that their industry is facing. “Our focus is on improving customer communications and self-service tools to improve customer satisfaction and increase efficiency for utilities,” Khan concludes.

Company
iFactor

Headquarters
Tempe, AZ

Management
Shazir Khan, CEO

Description
A company that develops software products and offers professional services for the utilities industry