Optimation gets into utilities

IT services company Optimation has bought AV Group, a Wellington-based consultancy that specialises in billing systems for the utility sector.

IT services company Optimation has bought AV Group, a Wellington-based consultancy that specialises in billing systems for the utility sector.

AV Group sells, implements and supports Equip, an online billing and customer care system it developed with Satyam Computer Services, an Indian company listed on the New York stock exchange.

Equip, which was launched last year, is used by Meridian and Genesis.

Optimation managing director Neil Butler says the acquisition takes the company, which has successfully made it through the start-up phase, and given it the backing of a company that has been around for a decade. Combined staff number around 100, of which about a dozen belong to Optimation’s new utility group.

AV Group director Alistair Owens says there is a gap in the utilities billing software market for "n-tiered" systems.

“Essentially it’s an online office and comes out of the box as an online tool. It’s true J2EE [a Java development platform].

"Good billing software allows you to construct and build prices that send the right signal to the market. You need to have very flexible pricing regimes.”

Butler says there is a gap for billing systems that can cope with the complexity of pricing structures demanded of utility companies today.

“Utility companies all have billing systems of some sort, but today there are new requirements. For large customers, their consumption is being read at half-hourly intervals. There are very complex pricing algorithms because it is so competitive. The ability to handle time intervals in billing and put into practice pricing policies is relatively new.”

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