Data Management House of the Year: ZE PowerGroup

ZE PowerGroup added 18 new clients in 2009, including a personal best for the company of six additions in one month in December, showing continued expansion since its win in this category last year. The company has also boosted its global coverage over the past year, securing two new contracts with multinational organisations.

However, size is irrelevant to this family-run firm. “We have added some big players recently, but ZE PowerGroup does not discriminate on service by client size,” assures Waleed El-Ramly, chief operating officer, product development at ZE PowerGroup. “We consistently try to provide the highest value to all of our users, regardless of who they are. For us, it’s all about understanding what each of our clients is looking for and working out how we can satisfy their needs.”

ZE PowerGroup was established in 1995 by Waleed El-Ramly’s father, Dr Zakaria El-Ramly, currently president and chief executive officer. It provides enterprise-level software solutions to companies operating in the global energy space. Its Enterprise Data Management (EDM) system, the ZEMA Suite, is used by front-, back- and mid-office staff in energy marketing companies, hedge funds, industrials and utilities across the power, oil, gas, emissions and financial markets. The ZEMA Suite offers data automation and warehousing, market analysis, curve management and reporting capabilities.

The products offered by ZE PowerGroup are specifically designed to integrate seamlessly with users’ existing systems and their modular structure allows users to pick and choose the elements they require according to their specific business needs. “We do not just license data or a product, we actually license our technology as well,” says Waleed El-Ramly. “We help clients leverage what we’ve built within their own systems, so they are not handcuffed by the way we think. The aim is to empower them.”

Dr Zakaria El-Ramly adds: “We end up building what clients wish they could have had the time to build themselves. And it looks familiar to them because we can build it within their own systems. So the IT team are already experts, rather than having to learn something foreign to them.”

But the company’s success in attracting new clients relies on more than just the product, says Waleed El-Ramly. “Customer service is our number-one goal and we are very reactive to clients’ needs. They have the ability to really direct the growth of the product. But it’s not just about product; it’s also about personality, friendliness and the warmth factor.”

Key to this attitude is the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to client queries or problems and, while the company has operated effectively from its base in British Columbia, Canada, since its launch, new global clients have necessitated a move to open a European office as well.

“Clients have always been well-served by us in the Vancouver office, but the comfort factor is really important so we are moving to open the European office, among other strategies,” says Waleed El-Ramly.

For any software business in the energy sector it’s essential to consider product evolution alongside the constantly changing nature of energy markets. “The real challenge is working out how fast you can expand while still retaining a very stable platform. We want to evolve the product and remain ahead of our competitors, but at the same time, ensure clients have a feeling of stability,” explains Dr Zakaria El-Ramly. “Clients want to see further growth in the offering, but they don’t want to see change in terms of the basic platform and how it integrates with their processes.”

Waleed El-Ramly adds: “Gaining another five clients shouldn’t mean losing sight of five current clients. And building on the product shouldn’t mean throwing away everything you’ve done and learned in the past.”

ZE PowerGroup’s focus on building customer relations, combined with the successful ZEMA Suite, has provided a solid base for this family-run business to grow. Its focus has widened over the years from concentrating on the power-sector to providing a product and level of service that appeals to global commodity players across all energy markets.

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