In an interview with Insights Success, Volker Herrmann, Products Manager of Avertra shares his experience and gives resourceful insights. In addition to this he has also noted about Avertra, its products and motto of the organization along with the future goals in revolutionizing the industry.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Volker and Insights Success:
Give a brief overview of the Avertra, its solutions and services?
Avertra began as a boutique IT Consultancy delivering digital transformation to the Utilities and Energy industry via enterprise technologies such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Esri, Qlik and Maximo. Throughout the first 8 years of consulting services work, the company consistently observed a major problem facing the industry: A lack of integrated, modern, and easy to use solutions addressing the unique needs of the industry. Avertra set out to build a system that would enhance and provide an innovation layer to the traditional ERP and CIS systems of utilities, while reducing implementation times and costs. In 2012, Avertra began developing the MiUtility™ platform with the focus on optimizing, streamlining and automating the New Construction-to-Cash lifecycle.
How do you diversify CRM solutions so that it will benefit your customers?
Our Customer Service products cover both the call center and the self-service endpoints. Each application can be independently deployed if requested. But it is in the integration to each other where our customers are receiving the full 360 views of their clientele. A user starting a process by calling the call center and being able to continue and finish it in self-service without interruption and on their own schedule. Vice versa the same, a business process started in self-service that requires a contact to the call center by web chat or call back can be addressed by the call center agent with direct access to the customer’s data. And all products are following an ease of use approach that has its roots in our MiCustomer application.
As users on a web portal we are relying on functionality that is easy to use and allows for fast interaction without the need for training. Can you imagine having to go through a trainings tutorial to do online shopping? Why not apply the same fundamentals to the enterprise side? Flat menu structures, non-truncated labeling and guided processes that provide information, verification and communication at the right time and in the right place. All this leads to a reduction in costly training and a higher user acceptance which in turn benefits our customer’s transformation effort as well.
Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learnt that have shaped the journey of the Avertra.
We started out as a consulting service company in the Utility sector, focused on SAP applications. Our clients called on us to correct issues that came out of their ERP implementations, occurring after the implementer already left. That gave us a front row seat on where these “standard software” projects fail.
We saw the results of applying a template on a Utility company that had been built on the flawed assumption that the processes included by the software vendor are already an overall match for most utilities. Guess what, they aren’t. Only because a company is buying the full suite at a reduced price does not mean they have the need to use all of it or that the single piece in scope right away is fitting their needs at all.
A municipal water utility does not have the same goals as a multi-division, multi company code utility that operates in multiple states and the deregulated market. While the software vendor might have a scalable product, the templates using it as a base are not.
With that in mind Avertra invested into Mendix as a development platform that not only allows us to build our platform products but at the same time allows for fast adjustments during implementation without the need for long development cycles. Our processes have been built based on the experience of our employees and in partnerships with our customers and represent a true best practice approach with little need for major adjustments But once again, the pieces that need adjusting can be tuned on the spot.
How does the company contribute towards making the industry better?
Avertra’s size and market knowledge enable the company to quickly pivot in response to market changes. Additionally, Avertra is one of very few software providers building solutions specifically for the Utilities industry. Competitors are large, slow to react, and unfocused on the market, and competing technologies are monolithic, un-integrated, and require a high degree of costly customization for utility customers.
Where does Avertra see itself in the long run and/or what are its future goals?
We see ourselves in the next 2 -3 years launching MiUtility.com to be the salesforce.com of the utility industry
Considering the rising number of CRM solutions providers, how does Avertra stand out from its competitors?
Our employees have several life times of industry experience. They have seen the good and the bad, dozen times over. That influences our product R&D. They share the common vision to change the industry, which is what led them to join Avertra in the first place. Too often we have seen companies implementing a product suite with functionality that can’t be utilized and the parts that would be applicable are nowhere near the business requirements.
We are attacking the status quo of the top tier software vendors by providing true industry specific solutions to address our customers’ needs, not some attempt of a modified ‘one size should fit all’ product.
Testimonials from Avertra Clients
“Avertra has helped Loudoun Water meet and exceed the high expectations of our tech-savvy customer base.”
– Mike Beardslee, Managing Director of IT Services, Loudoun Water
About the Leader
Volker has been in the Utility Industry for over 29 years now. Prior to Avertra, he worked as a Manager – Advisory Power and Utilities at PwC. He also worked as Senior Solution Consultant at SAP for thirteen years. Volker and his team are continuously engaging with industry thought leaders and experts to keep validating the roadmaps as well as presenting their own unique perspective on the utility industry’s lack of focus on end-to-end unified user experience across all channels.