In your opinion what are the most striking challenges faced by the utilities sector and how is Open International addressing those challenges?
In addition to the traditional need for improving operational efficiency, utilities companies are experiencing significant technology changes with the smart grid, distributed energy resources and cloud computing, to name a few, along with the increasing regulation, and real-time information demand by the new generation of customers. Unfortunately, the current alternatives in the market place involve disproportionate levels of investment and take years to implement. Sometimes by the time the system integrators finish the implementation of a solution, so many changes are needed, and the solution has been customized so heavily, that it will create inherent inflexibilities that result in a loss of upgradability and therefore, making innovations hard to achieve.
Open is addressing those challenges with three initiatives. The first one is building flexible solutions, where the utilities can easily optimize their business processes, improve operational efficiency and comply with changes in regulation; second, delivering new product features continuously, minimizing the need for customizations and costly upgrades, and third, empowering our customers to be more autonomous, and have the capabilities to manage their operations. The combination of these three factors results in solutions that can be implemented in significantly less time, can be kept updated, and run at a lower total cost, compared to the traditional solutions in the marketplace.
Can you tell us more about the company?
Open International has been working with telecommunications and utility service providers for over three decades with continuous growth. The company is headquartered in Florida, has achieved international recognition in the sector and has customers in 19 countries. We have offices in San Francisco and development and support centers both in the US and Colombia.
We have a roster of industry and software engineers, working in a challenging and rewarding environment, receiving recognition by their peers for their contributions to the ecosystem of innovation that we have built. The employee satisfaction level is 8.64/10 and we have more than 30% women in decision and operational roles.
Open’s state-of-the-art software has empowered utility clients to achieve a competitive advantage in the market. Can you elaborate on your solution offering feature set?
Open Smartflex is designed on three principles: Integration, Flexibility and Multiservice, and can be delivered on-premise, or hosted in the cloud.
Flexibility: Our customers can create and modify workflows, enhance functionality and business processes, without requiring programming or core code customizations that a typical CIS application requires.
Multi-Service: the system manages any subscription services (i.e. water, waste management, electric and broadband/telecommunication services) on top of one common foundation offering unified capabilities that most other platforms on achieving through costly integration efforts.
Open Smartflex is delivered on-premise or hosted on any cloud service provider. This allows our customers to choose their solution solely based on their business needs and not on their data restrictions.
Open Smarflex seems to be a quite revolutionary product. Can you shed further light on what makes it so different?
What makes Open Smartflex unique for our clients is that it has a uniform and homogeneous architecture and design principles across all its modules. There are no interfaces, no duplicate information and therefore no inconsistencies across the platform. Having worked with telecommunications service providers for decades, our software has the capability to deal with the key challenges utilities companies are just starting to face:
1. Managing and analyzing information higher volumes of information than ever faced before.
2. Supporting smart network integration platforms, IoT devices, distributed energy resources and real time monitoring.
3. Managing metering processes in near real time.
4. Managing customers as humans and not as meters in the database.
5. Creating and managing new products and services and taking advantage of new emerging technologies at the speed in which they need to.
To summarize, Open Smartflex solves today most of the challenges that utilities companies are going to face tomorrow.
Regarding your expansion plans in North America, can you tell us more about your venture?
Current market analysis indicates that more than 60% of the utility service providers in North America are planning to replace their CIS applications in the next five to seven years.
Just three months after the official launch of the company in North America, we signed our first contract, which is in an indication of the acceptance of our solution.
We are also developing a strong partner network to facilitate the implementation process and scale up to provide “white glove” services to our customers in North America. In 2019, we will actively participate in CS Week in Phoenix, for in depth industry conversations about the challenges utilities companies are facing and how we can help them successfully navigate the future while improving their operations and customer satisfaction.
It is clear that Open International has a different approach to solve many of the utility’s companies’ challenges. However, you are new to the market, which may be perceived as an added risk. How are you helping reduce this perceived risk?
First and foremost, we are large enough to be as reliable as the big players, as proven by our three-decade history, yet small enough to maintain an agile approach to technology, people and processes to meet our customers’ business needs. We care about our customer’s success, we are easy to do business with and we take ownership of the results of each project. We cannot rely on a big name; we depend on good references to grow and succeed. Some of the bigger players in the industry have lost both the nimbleness and the ability to stay close to their customers and stay flexible and easy to do business with.
We are engaging with partners with a solid history of delivery in the North American market to strengthen our position and provide peace of mind to decision makers.
The market is tired of lengthy and expensive projects that never quite meet their needs. We bring an alternative solution that has been proven in 19 countries with a company that has never failed to deliver in 30 years and is making the investment in partnerships and guarantees in order to reduce the perceived added risk of engaging with a new company.
And finally, we understand the perception surrounding our position as a new player in North America, and we are willing to provide decision makers with the necessary and tangible guarantees to provide “peace of mind” when doing business with Open.