Can Junifer–Gentrack dominate the UK energy retail market?
By Catherine Viola
April 19, 2017
Gentrack’s acquisition of UK-based Junifer Systems, a competing utility customer information and billing system provider, gives the vendor a significant market presence among the UK’s independent energy suppliers. We consider why Junifer Systems is so sought-after by the new entrant energy retailers and ask who can compete with the combined Junifer–Gentrack business.
Junifer Systems’ Winning Formula
Over the last eight years, Junifer Systems has been highly successful in winning business among the UK’s competitive energy suppliers. At the time of the company’s acquisition by Gentrack, Junifer’s clients accounted for 25 out of around 50 UK energy retailers, including Bristol Energy, Bulb, Green Star Energy, Octopus, Places for People, Robin Hood Energy, So and Yu.
So, what lies behind Junifer’s success? We believe there are four key factors:
Flexibility – The Junifer Utilities CIS (customer information system) can cater for any utility type (electricity, gas, district heating, water), as well as enable convergent billing for bundled offerings. Suppliers can handle residential and C&I customers, and both prepayment and credit service, all on a single platform.
Smart meter ready – The Junifer system was built from the outset to support the large data volumes generated by smart meter deployments and the new pricing paradigms that advanced meters enable. At the same time, it can also handle legacy services, so that suppliers can cater for all their customers on one platform as they transition to smart metering.
Rich local functionality – Junifer offers various pre-configured ‘Utility Packs’, which streamline and automate the complex rules and processes that are specific to the UK energy market (e.g. change of supplier, change of tenancy). There are separate packs for electricity, gas, water and district heating suppliers.
Software-as-a-service model – Available on an SaaS basis, the pre-configured Junifer CIS solution gives new entrants a cost-effective, pay-as-you-grow option, which avoids much of the upfront capital expenditure associated with an on-premises system installation and accelerates time to market.
Competing Billing/CIS Vendors
With 32 UK energy retailer clients, the combined Junifer–Gentrack business leads the way in terms of the number of utilities served. Gentrack brings seven UK customers, including OVO Energy, which is one of the fast-growing independent suppliers with a reputation for providing good customer service.
So, is there any room left for alternative utility billing / CIS vendors? The most significant other solutions providers in the UK are:
SAP – The leading billing vendor by market share, serving British Gas, EDF, RWE nPower and ScottishPower, as well as one of the leading green energy suppliers, Ecotricity.
Oracle – The vendor is implementing its Meter To Cash solution at SSE and Co-operative Energy. The project at Co-operative Energy includes Oracle’s billing system (CC&B), a meter data management system, a customer self-service portal, analytics, and a card payments solution.
LogNet Billing – The flagship energy retail client for the vendor’s MaxBill solution is First Utility, which is the largest of the UK independent suppliers with over 900,000 customers. MaxBill has strong multi-play capabilities, which are a key enabler for First Utility’s multi-service strategy. Introduced in 2011, LogNet’s system replaced several siloed home-grown legacy systems. As well as enabling convergent multi-play billing, the MaxBill solution has been instrumental in supporting First Utility’s drive to optimise its business and reduce its operational costs through process automation.
Ferranti Computer Systems – In 2015 Ferranti launched an out-of-the-box cloud offering for UK energy retailers, called MECOMS™ As A Service. Built on the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform, the offering supports standardised utility processes and includes integration with Utiligroup’s popular solution for power and gas market interaction. Ferranti’s first customer for this service is Our Power, whose mission is to help tackle fuel poverty by offering a competitive tariff for people living in social housing.
We believe that going forward most new business in the UK energy retail segment is likely to be carved up between Junifer–Gentrack and these leading contenders. While the Gentrack deal will spur Junifer’s already considerable momentum among the new entrants, the alternative providers all have strengths that should not be overlooked – for example, LogNet’s deep convergent multi-play billing experience and Ferranti MECOMS’ out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM. But the contenders will have to work doubly hard to demonstrate the benefits of their solutions if they want to gain ground on Junifer–Gentrack among the UK’s energy retailers.
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