An interview about current changes in the energy sector and how the company has positioned itself as a pioneer of next-generation ETRM software.
With significant changes in energy markets, what challenges are your customers currently facing?
Uday Baral, Pioneer Solutions: The pace of change in the energy market is undoubtedly increasing. In general, our customers are facing increasing market complexity and rising regulatory requirements at a time when squeezed margins are driving the need to contain operating costs. Rising volatility also means that companies need to be able to withstand fluctuations in volume without harming profitability or efficiency levels.
More specifically, we have already experienced the move to short-term intraday trading. To manage exposures and capitalize on opportunities, customers now require automated, direct connections with trading platforms and the ability to see their positions updated in near-real time. Data requirements are also increasing, with customers needing to rely on and process additional live data sources, including forecast data, market pricing and exchange trades.
With the growth of renewable energy, there has been a significant increase in guarantee of origin and renewable energy certificates. In order to mitigate associated operational risk, we are certainly seeing a rise in demand for purpose-built solutions, such as Pioneer’s RECTracker. Power purchase agreements have also grown in popularity. These can often be complex in nature, requiring settlement solutions that support non-standard contracts, such as Pioneer’s SettlementTracker.
Given these challenges, what do you feel makes you stand out compared with your competitors?
Uday Baral: We feel our key strengths lie in our ability to deliver flexible solutions that meet the needs of this ever-changing market. Not only do we offer a front-to-back real time system in TRMTracker, we also offer specialized modules for customers seeking specific solutions without the pain of replacing their existing systems, or for those looking to reduce the complexity of monolith systems with specialist functionality.
Our next-generation technology is designed for progress and reduced vendor reliance, which means a user-configurable environment that enables simple to complex business process modelling without coding. This offers flexibility to meet the needs of our customers’ changing businesses, while resulting in a lower total cost of ownership. Companies can quickly translate business needs into system configuration and develop additional functionality without protracted development processes.
There is growing recognition that solutions work better if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. This will help curb the proliferation of custom extensions that are hard and costly to maintain. Our innovative SaaS solution comes with configurable standard functions delivered in the cloud. It offers a compelling value proposition to businesses that need a modern, agile business solution which reduces complexity and cost, while allowing them to scale rapidly for long-term innovation and growth. TRMTracker is built for rapid deployment and implementation, either by Pioneer staff or through our innovative self-service configuration approach. We use an agile implementation process to mitigate project risk, reduce costs and increase efficiency, making us one of the top-ranked implementation specialists for on-time, within-budget delivery.
Moreover, as an up-and-coming player in this market, we are still small enough to care, yet big enough to get the job done.
What new developments have contributed most to your success in the market?
Uday Baral: As a true pioneer, we continuously innovate, living up to our hard-earned reputation of delivering the next-generation solutions that the market demands. We are permanently learning and adapting, putting into our products the years of experience that we have in challenging market assumptions and changing approaches.
We have always looked at the ETRM market differently, whether it’s our back-office starting point, our integration approaches or our cloud SaaS delivery. In this respect, it’s important to underline that it’s not just new developments that have contributed to our success, but also our continued ‘market readiness’.
For example, our solutions have always been web-based, live systems. As a result, we were ready for both the market shift to cloud-based solutions and the move to short term trading. We have not had to re-engineer our offerings.
We believe we have developed state-of-the-art integration capabilities, with modern, reliable tools that can seamlessly interface and integrate with our customers’ existing systems. Our systems can accommodate in/outbound data flows as well as connection with trading platforms, and we support all modern formats including representational state transfer web services and API connections with exchanges.
In such rapidly changing markets, what does the future hold for ETRM systems?
Uday Baral: We often talk to our customers about how the pace of change in the energy sector today means that companies need to ‘future-proof’ their solutions. No matter how successful a business is, it is impossible to anticipate every hurdle that may arise. To stay ahead, to innovate, to disrupt, companies must leverage new technologies to their benefit. In many cases this requires ETRM transformation.
Trying to keep up with market developments has become unmanageable and very costly for large monolith legacy solutions. Yet replacement of a legacy ETRM system is a serious undertaking, and if it is a large installation it becomes even more difficult. A new system must be less costly, have proven functionality that can be implemented faster, and have the flexibility to navigate future events.
We feel cloud-based SaaS solutions are vital to ensure future agility – from rapid delivery to automatic updates, allowing continuous improvement and enabling companies to quickly access the latest innovations and emerging technologies. The disruptive effects of the coronavirus over the past few weeks, have made businesses acutely aware of the need for staff being able to easily work remotely and have access to critical systems. When the ETRM software is delivered as a service, users only need an internet browser to access from anywhere, while total cost of ownership (hardware, software, maintenance, upgrades and innovation), moves to Total Cost of Service for the vendor.
At the same time, we see a growing recognition that best-of-breed specialist modules can be critical in supporting the increasing complexity of requirements. Integrating such modules facilitates change, and also potentially increases the ease of ETRM replacement down the road.
We believe that, with Pioneer Solutions as a partner, companies have the opportunity to reinvent themselves, transforming traditional business models and accelerating growth. In delivering what our customers need to future-proof their businesses, we believe our 21st‑century platform positions us as a true pioneer of the new ETRM era