Bashir Bseirani CEO, CTO, & Co-founderUtilities are waking up to the urgency of building brand loyalty and observing customer behavior to cater to their unmet demands in a bid to prevent losing them to nontraditional competitors. Utilities are looking for better tools that enable their customers to service themselves better and gain their loyalty in return. “Another aspect the utilities are looking into, besides just selling the commodity, is the method to gain upselling revenue streams. This is done by selling products and services that are complementary to the commodities offered,” says Bashir Bseirani, CEO, CTO, and Co-founder, Avertra. For instance, an energy utility can contact a customer to offer them a brand new energy efficient water heater at a competitive price, and this adds to the different streams of revenue in addition to the commodity.
The ideology behind Avertra’s launch in 2007 was to add positive disruption to the utility space by bringing in a “younger, millennial point of view”. In a bid to help utilities overcome their fear of complex integrations by relying on the right resources, Avertra ensured their integration services were one of the fundamental tenets for enforcing innovation in the utilities solutions space. With early beginnings as a services only organization that focused on SAP consultant services, staff augmentation, business management consulting, and business process re-engineering, the firm continues to evolve into newer streams within the utility industry. From a services standpoint, the company has also helped utilities identify how to mark their assets in the field operations, to put together replacement schedules for these assets, mobile workforce management scheduling and planning, along with GIS integration and mapping.
Delivering SAP Support
Avertra’s delivery of SAP expertise helps utilities streamline their operations, agility, and improve connectivity. With implementations that cover all ERP and SAP for Utilites modules, Avertra’s consultants are experts in complete lifecycle implementations starting from project scoping and blueprinting to offering live support and performance optimization services. In one of the instances, Avertra helped an energy utility firm, Peoples Natural Gas Company, by simplifying their SAP support in the billing area through optimization of the rates engine. After optimization of the billing schema, maintenance for the internal support team was reduced by nearly 50 percent. The rate engine/billing schema originally consisted of 600 steps and was reduced to only 200 steps after the optimization. Avertra’s SAP support helped the firm’s customers in expanding their understanding of key billing engine concepts and design practices so that they could support it themselves in the future. That is just one of many examples of how Avertra adds value through its services division.
A Backwards Compatible Product Line
The extensive experience on the services side has allowed Avertra to identify the white spaces and gaps in products that service, transform and optimize the utility industry. This has triggered the setting up of a products division within the firm that would focus on the irregularities within the ‘construction to cash lifecycle’ for utilities. The inception of the MiUtility family of products was a light-bulb moment for Avertra as it brought about the realization of wanting to introduce their own technology and products in the utilities space, in addition to addressing the service issues. The firm’s MiUtility suite powered by their Grove technology platform is an easy-to-deploy solution with end-to-end capabilities that optimizes operations, facilitates business driven customer service, offers enhanced communication and customer engagement, and simplifies billing and payment.“The way that we've built our product to be scalable and flexible solution allows us to integrate it with IBM’s AS400 or a Mainframe Application,” delineates Bseirani.
Tracking Omni-channel Communication
The MiUtility customer self-service/eBilling Web portal and mobile applications not only eliminate call center, print and distribution costs but also help its utility customers cut internal costs as well. The Mikiosk application can be deployed in areas like universities and congested zones where a utility wants customers to be able to sign up for service, view and pay their bills, and take care of their self-service needs while they are on the go.
The best way to connect with somebody and earn their trust is letting them be themselves around you and that's what our work culture enables
MiCorr, Avertra’s omni-channel communication engine provides the utilities with the ‘forensics’ to track and prove the reception of their messages sent to their customers. An additional feature in the MiCorr product line are the gas sensors built into the application that allows the energy utilities to detect inflammable gas leaks and alert the authorities and the customers within a selected radius.
Another key component, MiRead is a meter reading application with an exceptional piece of functionality to allow electric utilities to identify meter readers that are performing what is known as "Curbing". It ensures accurate meter readings by eliminating the possibility of meter readers fabricating the readings. Equipped to mark geo-tags of every meter reading, the application generates deviation reports to show the distance between the meter readers and the actual meter when they read the meter and help the utility in assessing the effectiveness of their meter readers.
Employees Who Live Our Values
“The best way to connect with somebody and earn their trust is letting them be themselves around you and that's what our work culture enables,” extols Bseirani. With a leadership that strives to steer the company in a way that is different from the work culture they themselves came from, the work culture of Avertra is fun-filled. The company values its employees immensely and believes that everybody in their team is “marching to the same tone” and contributing to the firm’s vision of doing things with a difference. Staffed by a set of very talented, intelligent, and motivated people that have supported the growth of the company, Avertra’s employees are the backbone of the organization.
When Customers Become Partners
“Our customers recognize the value that they bring to the company by offering positive feedbacks for solutions that are often found to be far superior then the competitors’ offerings,” extols Bseirani. Avertra credits this success to having found the right way to articulate their message and showcase their products, supported by a team of passionate individuals who don’t just turn up for work but “live their dream” at the organization. As a company that is into hosting data for millions of people, the company believes that data governance and security are a social responsibility that they want to shoulder to protect the families relying on their products and services. Avertra has established its presence amongst multi-million dollar companies, and has come a long way since being considered just a small fish in the sea. “Every day that we wake up is about bringing change and innovation to people's lives, the fact that we at Avertra have the opportunity to do that on a daily basis is just exhilarating,” enthuses Bseirani.