NEMMCO: a big leap towards a global transition

With Colette Lewiner,
Former Global Leader Energy, Utilities and Chemicals at Capgemini

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NEMMCO: a big leap towards a global transition

Opening up the energy sector to competition had a major influence on global economies in the early 2000s. Australia was the first country to end its public monopoly. But of course, such a big leap came with its fair share of challenges.

Starting the millennium off right

At the start of the new millennium, Colette Lewiner, who has headed Capgemini’s Utilities sector practice since 1998, knew she was sending her teams on an extraordinary mission. Following an international call for tender, Australian electricity market operator NEMMCO had just selected Capgemini to develop and implement a comprehensive customer management system for its domestic market. Mobilizing 50 engineers for a period of one year, the task appeared rather trivial. In reality, it was anything but.

Colette Lewiner
Then Corporate Vice President and Global Leader
for Energy, Utilities and Chemicals

40,000 kilometers
Total length of electrical connections managed by NEMMCO in 2000

Act One of global deregulation

In the early 2000s, Australia had kicked off the global deregulation trend in the energy sector. “Australia was the first country to put an end to public monopolies in energy supply and open up the sector to competition. This was even earlier than the US, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries,” says Colette Lewiner.

Between 1998 and 2012, the Energy-Utilities sector grew from 4% to 10% of Capgemini’s annual revenue. The NEMMCO contract arrived during this time and represented a major achievement for the group.Colette Lewiner

That meant managing the new electricity market in a country with 19 million customers, 5,000 kilometers of power lines, and 40,000 kilometers of electrical connections. NEMMCO was created specifically for this purpose!

The regulator’s idea was to create a single platform, accessible to all operators, that would facilitate customer mobility and streamline electricity trading,” summarizes Lewiner. The goal was simple: to allow the new competitors to contact end consumers, enabling them to compare prices and switch operators if they so desired. NEMMCO entrusted the platform design to Capgemini.

19 million
Australian customers managed by NEMMCO in 2000

Murphy’s Law applied to Utilities

It became clear right away that the mission was complex, partly because Capgemini had to start totally from scratch. “This type of platform represented a first at the time. We started by standardizing data from different operators, much of which was not compatible. Next, we had to build common procedures and secure approval from all operators,” recalls Lewiner. Last but not least, the platform had to comply with a very strict legal framework regarding the nature of client information made available, privacy restrictions, and rules governing customer contact. Nothing was left to chance.

Discussions between the operators were often tense and difficult. In the end, the biggest challenge was getting everyone to agree.
Colette Lewiner

In Sydney, where most meetings were held, things did not go as smoothly as Colette Lewiner’s teams had hoped. “At every meeting, you could sense the tension between the operators. They could not agree on the procedures because they each felt their own methods were the best. Discussions went on forever and the atmosphere was uncomfortable,” she remembers. Managing tension between the operators was not Capgemini’s role, but NEMMCO relied heavily on its teams to diffuse certain situations thanks to their technological solutions. That is what the Group managed to do in 2001.

Capgemini employees assigned to the NEMMCO account

A head start to “living the future”

The customer management platform created for NEMMCO was a significant milestone in the history of Capgemini’s Energy Utilities sector. “We invented a new technical solution for energy market deregulation. By creating new procedures and making them acceptable to the different operators, Capgemini transitioned from being a simple service provider to a major player in the energy sector,” recalls Colette Lewiner. The success did not go unnoticed: “When other countries opened their energy markets to competition, like Sweden, Canada and some US states, the ‘NEMMCO Platform’ as it was called emerged as the standard,” she adds.

With NEMMCO, we were no longer a simple service provider, but a major player in the energy sector.Colette Lewiner

In the small world of energy, Capgemini is now considered a visionary group. It was the first player to grapple with the consequences of deregulation. “We were the first to delve into the issue and we earned a strong reputation. In the eyes of the energy companies, we had become utilities specialists. And that still holds true today,” concludes Colette Lewiner.

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