Posts Tagged ‘Utility Billing’

Differentiation critical in commodity markets

January 8, 2018

Any business that supplies a product or service that cannot be differentiated against its competitors is at risk of being undercut and thereby losing its customers.

Environmental and Ambient Data

Commodity markets, such as electricity and other energy types are particularly exposed to price cutting, due to the fact that no matter which supplier a customer chooses, the end product, or service, is essentially the same. Sometimes there is a small difference in service or product quality, but often that is not a strong enough argument to compete against a lower price.

The stark choice that businesses in commodity markets face in order to compete, is between cutting prices or finding a point of difference that will motivate customers to choose them over a lower priced competitor.  Cutting prices leads to price wars with competitors and a downward spiral to the bottom, so differentiation has to be the preferable option over price cutting.

In the New Zealand electricity market, Trustpower has proven that bundling electricity with broadband and/or telephony services together in a single offering makes a very compelling proposition to customers. It is also very difficult for other electricity (or broadband) suppliers to compete with, unless they can also provide the same bundled services – which most don’t.

How can you compare the price of an apple with the price of an apple and an orange?

Trustpower’s leadership position in bundling electricity and broadband has been exceptionally successful in the New Zealand market and we are now seeing other suppliers starting to follow in their footsteps.

Another successful point of differentiation is locality.  In the New Zealand region of Taranaki (known fondly as “The Naki”), local managed service provider “NakiCloud” prides itself as being the local guys, who sport Taranaki’s famous black and yellow colors.  NakiCloud (and their sister company “Speedster”) offer locals the same products and services as the big guys in Auckland, but when things go wrong they are there on the spot to help, which is far preferable to the locals than spending hours on the help queue for one of the bigger providers.   This point of differentiation is working exceptionally well for NakiCloud in the Taranaki region.

In a reversal of Trustpower’s bundling, NakiCloud is in the process of bundling electricity with their current offerings, thereby adding a further point of difference for their customers – as well as an increased revenue stream from their existing customer base.

This bundling is facilitated by NakiCloud’s use of the Datagate billing portal, which can combine telecommunications services, data services and electricity on the same invoices to their customers.

In my role as CEO of Datagate Innovation, I see that a big part of our purpose is helping our clients differentiate their service offerings through various means, including bundling different services from a multitude of suppliers, improved information flows with our clients’ customers and superior invoice & data presentations.

As they say…“Differentiate or Die”.




CEO changes at Enprise and Datagate

September 11, 2015


There is a lot happening at Enprise this week!

After almost thirteen years as the CEO of Enprise, I have decided to change my focus at this time to become the full-time CEO of our high-growth Cloud-Subscription Billing Engine subsidiary, Datagate Innovation.

Datagate is a new business with a compelling value proposition to the global “Cloud Economy”, in particular to resellers of Telco, Utility and on-line services. It has an exciting growth path ahead of it, which is going to involve serving businesses, large and small, all over the world.

Enprise Group has a new CEO – Elliot Cooper, who is no stranger to the business as an Enprise co-founder and CFO for almost thirteen years. In addition to his financial expertise, Elliot has extensive experience in the financial software business and was a designer of popular software products including Enprise Job and Exonet.

I will stay on board as a non-executive director of Enprise and retain a significant shareholding in the business.

We believe these changes will maximize Enprise Group’s shareholder value and better fulfill the potential of each Enprise business.

Enprise Group will retain a significant shareholding in Datagate and a director on the Datagate board, whilst allowing other investors, including myself, to invest directly in to the business.

As a high-growth Cloud company, we will raise direct investor capital to build Datagate through its formative years, before crossing over to profitability through its build-up of recurring SaaS revenues.