Essent Supplies Self-service for Customer & Employee Satisfaction
Cost-cutting services, innovation through partnerships, fast response
"Over the last 10 years, our energy market evolved dramatically," explains Senior Enterprise Architect Niels Wolf. "Gas and electricity consumers in the Netherlands got the right to switch suppliers, the government unbundled retail from power generation functions, Essent was acquired by RWE, and we began offering services to the broader European market. Like every organization, our goals are to increase revenue and make a profit, but also to give our customers self-service capabilities. We needed to adapt very quickly to what the customer wants. If you don't adapt to their needs and wishes, your competitors will, and you will be out of business before you know it.
"From a technology perspective, we needed fast performance and that meant decoupled systems for optimal flexibility. The biggest inhibitors we had were our legacy systems and our inability to adapt.
"We began the relationship with TIBCO more than 10 years ago. We started in the energy trading business, and because it's fast, we used TIBCO Rendezvous® high-speed messaging, and even its predecessor. Gradually, we saw that consumers also required fast information delivery, and at that same time, we switched to the consumer market. We use the TIBCO software suite [TIBCO ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks™ integration platform and TIBCO Enterprise Message Service™ messaging middleware] as our primary integration capability for the entire Essent landscape.
"It's very important to have the ability for easy software development. Also, you need to modularize your landscape. If you're not able to do that, what was robust in the beginning, will become legacy pretty fast. Decoupled software, like the integration capabilities we now have, are really flexible, so we can make changes wherever we want.
"We've used TIBCO Professional Services quite a few times, mainly because we were struggling with an issue that we weren't able to resolve ourselves. When we need the specialist, we hire TIBCO Professional Services.
Cost-Cutting Customer Self-Service
"If we weren't able to leverage the technologies we have, and also use third-party applications, I think we would have been out of business. You can't do everything through call centers any more, they cost too much, at least in Europe. It's really important for us to use self-service technology, so the customer is able to do everything themselves. Using TIBCO technology, we can properly see and steer customers to satisfy their own wishes.
Fast Service Innovation and New Customers Through Partnerships
"Customer requests need to be filled within a short period of time. If you need to build everything yourself, most of the time you’ll be too late, your competitor has already done it. We're looking to microservices to make development faster, easier, more fine-grained, so data and systems are easier to expose to the outside world and to our own self-service environment. It means we can leverage more capabilities from third parties, as well. You can collaborate with third parties to create services and reach customers you weren't able to reach by yourself.
Fast Performance to Satisfy Both Consumer and Employee Demand
"Response time is very important. We're tracking about 60 million messages a day because it's really important that systems, especially self-service systems, are always fully up-to-date. If you needed to wait two or three seconds to get an overview of your usage, you won't use the service anymore. You might try it once or twice, but the third time you would remove the app and go looking into competitors. We're able to adapt pretty easily; we're not changing our back end systems anymore.
"With high volumes and high speed, there are certain expectations internally, as well. Employees also expect great performance. And it's really important to our users to control processes without IT support. They don't want to request adjustments from IT each time. It needs to be configurable.
"The most important part for our future is to become more digital, to further enhance our self-service capabilities. The IoT and sensor data is also very important for Essent. Knowing what consumers use is crucial for planning energy supply."