Wellington IT scene: Harmonic looks to telco, energy and agricultural sectors

Following management buyout two years ago, focus has shifted to statistical analysis

Specialist analytics company Harmonic has been around in various forms for eight years. After a management buyout in August 2009, its focus evolved to solving complex business problems through statistical analysis and building tools, says CEO Bridgit Hawkins.

“Through advanced analytics, we provide insight to help our customers to better understand their unique cost and productivity drivers,” she says. “We are experts in developing customised, sophisticated network performance and modelling tools.”

Its business is primarily in the telecommunications, energy and agriculture sectors. It has developed three tools for telcos, around network planning and optimisation: lifecycle asset management; testing broadband performance; and developing next-generation network planning.

In the energy sector, it has two options for optimising Scada information. But it is in agriculture the company has received most kudos recently with its Re:Gen product, which addresses one of the most critical challenges facing dairy farmers: dairy effluent. Re:Gen won a TUANZ innovation award last year.

It is said to be the only local solution available that tells farmers how much effluent to apply to optimise pasture growth, manage nutrients more effectively, and eliminate the risk of effluent ending up in waterways.

There are services offering data capture, telemetry and web views, but none take the additional step of providing automated prognosis and decision-making to guide the application of effluent.

Re:Gen automatically collects data about rainfall, soil moisture, soil temperature and effluent pond levels, transmits these readings to a centralised database, analyses them and generates daily action recommendations that farmers can access via mobile devices or computers.

Hawkins says Re:Gen, which has been established as Regen Ltd, a subsidiary of Harmonic, grew out of analytical work she was doing on behalf of Telecom with Massey University. “They were trying to promote rural broadband by capturing information,” she says.

To date, Re:Gen has 14 customers, spread nationally. There is a set-up fee of around $7000 and an annual fee of $1800 for on-going services. But this can generate considerable cost savings, she says. A farmer with 600 cows might spend up to $40,000 a year on fertiliser, but individual cows can produce up to $50 value a year in effluent.

Hawkins sees international potential for Re:Gen, but first wants to broaden its use here.

This is the third in a series of articles about the Wellington IT scene. Tomorrow Computerworld looks at the I Love New Zealand website.

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