An Interview with Simon Wheeler, Contigo
Following EnergyOne’s acquisition of UK-based Contigo, a supplier of ETRM solutions to the western European gas and power markets, ComTech caught up with Mr. Simon Wheeler, CEO of the Contigo unit, to discuss EnergyOne’s strategy for the newly acquired business, potential client impacts and Mr. Wheeler’s outlook for the future of the business and the markets the company serves.
ComTech Advisory: Thanks for taking the time to visit with us. First things first perhaps, what is your role going forward with Contigo, your background and your objectives for the business?
Simon Wheeler: Thanks, pleasure to be here.
My role at Contigo is that of CEO for the European business. While being part of the Energy One group, Contigo will continue to maintain its brand identity and be operated autonomously, to continue our reputation as a reliable independent supplier of ETRM systems.
My own experience is that I am an electrical engineer by training with 20+ years of experience in software and technology; and being a ‘pom’ (as the Aussies like to say), I feel right at home, back here in the UK.
My objectives for the business are quite simple:
- Continue to develop and market Contigo’s existing product range here
- Enhance and expand our offerings through cross-fertilisation with Energy One group capabilities
- Expand and develop our footprint and capability for European market, to give us a market leading position in both the physical and contracts-trading markets
- Continue to provide an exciting and rewarding workplace for our valued employees
In all this, I am lucky to be supported by Adrian Bullock, one of the founders of Contigo, who will be taking on the important task of leading our design of products for the ever-changing energy landscape.
ComTech Advisory: We can probably assume that Energy One isn’t so well known in Europe as it is in Australia, so could you tell us a bit about the business and why it has acquired Contigo?
Simon Wheeler: In its home market of Australian and New Zealand, Energy One is the leading vendor of wholesale energy trading software and services, with approaching 50% of the wholesale energy (power and gas) in the Australian market being traded or scheduled using Energy One’s systems.
The Company offers solutions in market analytics, energy and ancillary services bidding, transmission pipeline scheduling and accounting, wholesale market operations and ETRM solutions for contracts trading and settlements for all fuel types, PPAs and environmental certificates.
The predominant Australian physical energy markets are gross-pool markets, which means that large volumes of energy are traded daily, with very large fluctuations in spot prices. The ensuing trading and scheduling of this energy is an area of particular expertise for Energy One and its software solutions.
The Company also offers EnergyFlow, a process automation platform specifically tailored for energy customers. This product automates any number of processes, from simple contracts to detailed calculations and logical operations
We observe that customers operating in this space struggle with a plethora of problems where processes are manual and dependent on spreadsheets, yet conventional automation products such as BPMN and RPA lack the data modelling capabilities to deal with time series data that is ubiquitous in energy operations. EnergyFlow represents a significant opportunity for energy businesses to simplify and improve their workflows.
Energy One has been marketing EnergyFlow into UK and Europe and recently went live with a multinational energy company installation.
Given the position of market strength at home and progress in Europe, the Company was keen to cement its commitment in the European market by a strategic acquisition of a compatible and synergistic local business. We were very excited by the opportunity to merge with Contigo, the leading independent vendor of ETRM solutions to UK energy customers. The two companies have a lot in common, including excellent and compatible product-sets, dedicated local teams and strong track records in delivering solutions on-time and on-budget.
ComTech Advisory: What changes might the industry see from Energy One and Contigo going forward and how will that benefit existing customers?
Simon Wheeler: One thing that won’t change, is Contigo’s long-standing commitment to providing reliable, local solutions and hands-on experience. A larger team in a global setting will also be able to provide deeper service resources and broader capability to customers, going forward, further enhancing our existing reputation for delivery, responsiveness and certainty.
The Energy One group now has 130+ product installations, 1300+ users and 100 staff to service our customers’ needs.
ComTech Advisory: What products will Contigo be marketing and supporting going forward – will it be unchanged, or will there be any additional products as a result of the acquisition?
Simon Wheeler: The renowned enTrader and enVoy products will be retained and enhanced via cross-fertilisation with product modules and features from the Energy One global range of products, including:
- Market analytics
- Deal capture and settlements of all market instruments
- Physical market interaction including bids and offers for generation, supply, load and capacity and display of dispatch instructions including EDL, EDT and ECVN
- Complex billing and settlements for PPAs
- Scheduling, management and nominations to pipelines, storage and tolling counterparties
We have already had a good deal of interest from customers for the EnergyFlow platform which can help to rapidly extend functionality in existing legacy systems, improve integration between in-house and vendor systems and speed up ETRM project implementations
ComTech Advisory: What are your own initial impressions of Contigo and the European ETRM market? Any surprises so far?
Simon Wheeler: I have been very impressed with the Contigo business. When Energy One first looked at the company, we coined the phrase; ‘great products, built by great people, with great customers. Contigo have been recognised for achieving rapid implementations and can react quickly to customer change requests and product enhancements. We are well known for our strengths in power and gas and for having a deeper understanding the retail supply market.
It’s one of the reasons why we are very excited to be involved.
Internally, there are already projects underway to share technology and integration services and expertise across the group.
The UK and European markets are also very impressive in their breadth, complexity and scope. Although the Australian market is technically quite complex, it obviously does not have the interesting geographic, cultural and technical diversity of the European market. Contigo has had several years of successful operation in Europe now, and we hope to leverage that experience by providing additional products and features, whilst backed by a global, publicly-listed Company in Energy One.
ComTech Advisory: If we repeat this process in a year from now, what will you hope to be able to tell us?
Simon Wheeler: That we have increased the range of product and service offerings to our customer base, without compromising service and delivery.
This includes further developments in market analytics, physical trading and scheduling for both UK and Europe.
An advanced solution for cloud where users can scale up and down as demand changes. This will provide all the advantages of a multi tenanted platform but with the added benefits of supporting bespoke customisations.
About Mr. Simon Wheeler, Contigo
An innovative and committed Executive with over 20 years of experience. Successful in delivering transformation initiatives and working in complex and challenging environments.