I recently caught up with Richard Pinos, head of customer success for nGenue (the Houston-based provider of natural gas software for marketers, producers, LDCs, utilities, and pipelines) to get an update on recent new product developments and market activity.
On the product front, Mr. Pinos noted that the company has continued to expand their depth of capabilities to service the full range of businesses that operate across the natural gas value chain. With new development efforts over the last 18 months, their market reach now extends from wellhead to consumer, or said another way, producer services to retail natural gas complex billing. Included in their most recent new product developments are: a new price quotation engine designed for the rapid price generation, quoting and contracting of residential and small/medium C&I prospects; an enhanced web portal that LDCs and gas marketers can utilize to provide on-demand information and data to brokers, marketers and gas consumers; and new producer services capabilities that automate wellhead management processes including owner remittance statements, volumetric imports, and netback pricing at the wellhead.
In discussing their 2020 activity, he noted that the year started strong with numerous “interested Marketers and LDCs” in active discussions with their company. But, like virtually every other software vendor in the space, when the lockdowns/work from home mandates hit, those “interested parties” largely pulled back to re-evaluate requirements and budgets. However, given the difficulties many companies encountered in that distributed workforce environment (managing workflow, dealing with isolated spreadsheets, etc), new interest emerged after the first quarter of the year. He noted this new group were seeking solutions that could address not only the issues associated with the work from home environment but could also overcome some of the ongoing issues that many have had with their legacy systems. He noted these new companies were seeking more agile and adaptable solutions that didn’t carry the huge expenses associated with many of the legacy vendors, particularly as most of those vendors treated natural gas as just one of many commodities they covered. As such, and particularly for a pure-play natural gas company, these systems tend to be burdened with un-necessary code and functionality required to manage those other commodities such as power. By the end of 2020, and despite the many challenges of the year, he noted that nGenue was able to complete 3 new implementations.
2021 has continued the trend of new inquiries and customers for nGenue, with Mr. Pinos noting the year started quickly (the first week of January in fact) with a Marketer that had made the decision to bring their scheduling function back in-house. Others that quickly followed included companies that were outgrowing their spreadsheet-based operations and others that were seeking replacements for outdated software, including two stuck on a solution that was being end of life’d by the vendor. Continuing the momentum established in 2020, nGenue has two new implementations so far in 2021 and Mr. Pinos anticipates several others to follow suit in the second half of the year.
When asked what he felt were the primary drivers that were attracting new potential clients to nGenue, he noted that a common theme was the need for capabilities that could address the specific complications of natural gas, not a system that viewed natural gas as “just another commodity”. In fact, he related that one of their largest engagements to date is a very large marketing/trading shop that has become dissatisfied with their legacy multi-commodity platform as it didn’t provide the depth and breadth of capabilities, they required for their gas marketing operations and, as such, were looking for a specialized, built from the ground-up gas solution.
This need for specialized capabilities to address a singular commodity is in line with what we at ComTech have observed over the last couple years…a movement back to “best of breed” or what we’ve termed a disaggregation of the large legacy multi-commodity solutions that have been prevalent for more than a decade. As these systems have grown more complex and more difficult/expensive to maintain, we do see more user companies seeking out specialized solutions to address new requirements (markets, commodities, etc), or to gradually replace components of those large systems to help relieve those users of some of the costs and burdens associated with them. With nGenue’s focus solely on natural gas and the capabilities required by companies that operate across the gas value chain, they do seem well positioned for additional success in 2021 and beyond.