By John P. Desmond
The software industry is home to focused companies that compete in or define their vertical focused software for various business sectors. Healthy businesses dedicated to supporting utilities, electronic design automation, auto insurance claims processing, radio frequency hardware and software, automotive dealers, local governments, and property and casualty insurance providers, are involved in the widest range of software and services, and most are not household names.
Here is a review of some of the latest customer wins as well as landmark news coming from vertical industry application leaders that ranked highest in the 2013 Software 500, which published in Software Magazine’s September 2013 issue.
Itron, number 56 in the 2013 Software 500, achieved revenue of $2.2 billion in the ranking year, on the strength of its software tools and consulting services for the global utility industry. In business for over 100 years, Itron today concentrates its services around energy and water use.
In a recent contract win, the Southern Connecticut Gas Co., providers of natural gas to customers in 22 CT communities, selected Itron to modernize and manage its metering system. In a 20 year agreement, SCG will use Itron TOTAL AI to run, manage, and maintain their gas meter reading systems. “We look forward to taking our system to the next level,” states Robert Allessio, CEO/president, SCG.
Itron will oversee the installation and maintenance of 220,000 Itron gas communication modules, and associated fixed-network infrastructure, eventually taking over all aspects of SCG’s data collection system and operations.
Another customer, National Grid, a supplier of electricity to approximately 3.4 million customers in the Northeast, uses Itron for the next phase of its smart grid project. National Grid will install Itron’s OpenWay smart grid platform, based on an advanced IPv6 network powered by Cisco, aimed at improving service reliability, improving response to power outages, and empowering customers to save energy. In the new phase, National Grid leverages Itron’s product to enable programs that give consumers better insights into their energy use and costs. “National Grid is working with Itron to build a smarter, more resilient electric network,” stated William Jones, Smart Energy Solutions program director, National Grid.
Itron is also involved in solar power management. Clean Power Finance (CPF), a leading residential solar finance company, recently selected the company’s solar monitoring product as the preferred metering solution for residential solar installations across North America. The offering includes Itron’s solar meter embedded with cellular communications and Itron Managed Services for managing and monitoring of solar power generation. “The efficiency and simplicity of Itron’s solar monitoring solutions makes it a preferred technology for consumer packaged goods,” says Steve Olszewski, SVP, operations at CPF.
Synopsys, number 61 in the 2013 Software 500, achieved revenue of $1.8 billion in the ranking period, marking a growth of 14 percent, on the strength of its set of electronic design automation (EDA) tools and semiconductor intellectual property (IP).
Synopsys provides software tools and intellectual property (IP) that support the design and creation of semiconductor chips and electronic systems. Their advanced tools can also support the design of FinFET transistors, which are double-gate transistors wrapped by a thin silicon “fin,” which forms the body of the device. Multigate transistors are one of several strategies developed by semiconductor manufacturers to create smaller microprocessors and memory cells.
The Synopsys Discovery Verification Platform is just one of Synopsys’ many offerings, along with its Galaxy Design Platform. The Galaxy platform offers a portfolio of tools that help engineers create today’s complex designs, while the Discovery Platform offers a portfolio of tools for verifying chip designs. Synopsys’ DesignWare IP portfolio delivers a broad range of IP, including memory, logic libraries, processor IP, and system on a chip (SoC) infrastructure IP.
According to the company, Synopsys’ tools are highly respected by customers. “Synopsys’ Verification Compiler offers a vision with the potential to take verification productivity to the next level,” stated NVIDIA’s Jonah Alben, senior VP of graphics processing unit (GPU) engineering. NVIDIA makes visual computing tools which today are used for in video games, movie production, product design, medical diagnosis and scientific research.
Imagination is a global technology leader whose broad range of silicon IP includes key processing blocks needed to create the SoCs that power all mobile, consumer and embedded electronics. “Using Synopsys’ ZeBu Server-3, we were able to achieve 3.5 MHz performance on our latest PowerVR GPUs,” notes Martin Ashton, EVP, PowerVR Multimedia IP for Imagination.
Digilent serves students and universities primarily with technology-based education design tools; its products are now in over 2,000 universities. Clint Cole, president/ CEO, says, “Synopsys’ ARC Software Development Platform offers a pre-validated, integrated solution that allows software engineers to start developing software much faster and earlier in the design cycle.”
Solera, number 102 in the 2013 Software 500, reported revenue of $790.2 million and achieving growth of more than 15 percent. Solera concentrates on software and services for automobile insurance claims processing. Solera went public in 2007 and has made many acquisitions since then, giving the company 165,000 customers and a presence in 68 countries.
Recently, the company acquired Autopoint, a platform that includes a database of more than 100 million repair orders and 55 million completed inspections. The goal is to enhance customers’ service, maintenance, and repair experiences at over 1,000 North American auto dealerships.
“Our expansion into service maintenance and repair aligns with our strategy and provides a new platform for global expansion,” notes Tony Aquila, founder/chairman/CEO, Solera.
Another recent acquisition by Solera is of Servicios Informaticos Serinfo in Chile. The country’s leading provider of dealership and body shop management systems in Chile, the acquisition positions the company to expand in Chile and provides an expanded base in Latin America.
The new platform helps customers to improve operations and communicate effectively with all stakeholders throughout the purchase and care of vehicles—from sale to insurance and maintenance.
Solera’s brands include ABZ, Netherlands; Audatex, in over 45 countries; AudaExplore in the US; AUTOOnline in Europe and Latin America; Hollander, North America; HPI, U.K.; Informex, Belgium; Inpart, Brazil and Mexico; Market Scan, The Netherlands; and Sidexa in France.
Checkpoint Systems, number 112 on the 2013 Software 500, reached software and services revenue of $690.8 million in the ranking year, on the strength of its radio frequency technology, including market-leading RFID hardware and software.
Among Checkpoint’s markets is loss prevention. Family Dollar recently committed to implement Checkpoint’s EVOLVE P10 ECO electronic article surveillance (EAS) product in its 8,000 stores in the U.S., installing at the rate of 120 per week. The two companies worked together so that merchandise arrives at Family Dollar stores EAS tagged and shelf-ready. “The rollout has already positively impacted our profitability,” stated Julie Giblin, VP, loss prevention, Family Dollar.
According to the Centre for Retail Research, global shrink increased 6.6 percent to more than $119 billion in the last Global Retail Theft Barometer, a figure that represents 1.45 percent of global retail sales. For the past 20 years, EAS systems and labels have been the most common method to protect store merchandise against shoplifting.
Kohl’s Department Stores recently deployed Checkpoint’s Merchandise Visibility enterprise RFID software in select departments across its retail locations.
The company piloted RFID in spring 2013 across 25 stores, focusing on strategic apparel departments including footware, denim, and men’s basics. The Merchandise Visibility software was installed centrally in Kohl’s data center, enabling handheld RFID readers to perform in-store inventory counts.
The retailer also deployed RFID printers and handheld readers for tagging at distribution centers. Kohl’s operates 1,158 stores in 49 states. “RFID will provide improved operational visibility, enabling us to more efficiently identify items which need to be replenished on the sales floor,” says Ken Bonning, SVP, Kohl’s.
Dealertrack, number 150 on the 2013 Software 500, reported $388.9 million in revenue in the ranking year, growth of 10 percent over the previous year. Founded in 2001, Dealertrack offers Web-based software for automotive dealers, lenders, agents, and aftermarket providers. It also operates an online credit application network, among the largest in North America. The company’s offerings include a Dealer Management System (DMS), inventory and sales packages, a Web-based network for arranging vehicle transportation and shipping, electronic motor vehicle registration and titling applications, and digital document services.
Dealertrack expanded in March with the acquisition of Dealer.com, also a provider of online marketing and operational software for the automotive industry. “By joining forces with Dealer.com, we will be able to provide dealers, original equipment manufacturers, and other industry partners with a deep and broad array of integrated solutions,” says Mark O’Neil, chairman/CEO, Dealertrack. “Dealer.com and its team, whom we’ve long admired and respected, complement our solutions.”
Expanding its presence in Canada, Dealertrack recently announced the launch of an advance finance portal to all Hyundai auto dealers in Canada.
Hyundai Auto Canada has 210 dealerships throughout the country. “Hyundai and Hyundai dealers continue to embrace new technologies, systems and processes to improve the way we do business,” says Don Romano, COO, Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. “The new Hyundai Dealer Portal allows us to improve communication and information sharing with our dealers, helping us make better decisions as we grow and manage our business.”
Tyler Technologies, number 166 on the 2013 Software 500, reported $333.3 million in software and services revenue in the ranking year, a growth of 19 percent. Tyler focuses on serving local governments; its client base includes more than 11,000 local government offices in the 50 U.S. and Canada.
Tyler recently announced that it has reached an agreement with Kansas City, MO, to replace its legacy permitting software with Tyler’s EnerGov planning, permitting and licensing product, in an agreement valued at $5.8 million. Tyler’s experience in helping governments migrate from legacy permitting systems to a modern system helped the company win the deal. EnerGov met the city’s requirements for a commercial-off-the-shelf system, offering online access for employees and citizens.
“We are confident that EnerGov, coupled with Tyler’s experience providing permitting and licensing solutions, will help bring multiple city departments together under one enterprise-wide system that will allow us to provide a higher level of customer service,” says Rick Usher, assistant city manager, Kansas. EnerGov’s mobile applications enhance accessibility for the city’s field staff as well. More than 400 agency users are expected to use the system once implemented.
In another recent win, the city of Greenville, NC contracted for the use of Tyler’s Munis enterprise resource planning (ERP) product, which will replace a 22-year old financial system that was not well integrated. This lead to the duplication of data, disparate databases, and limiting reporting. The city formed a search committee with employees from different departments, charged to select an integrated system. The committees evaluated several systems and chose Munis financial management and human capital management applications, along with Tyler Content Manager, also integrated with Munis.
“Munis offers the best value and is the best solution to meet the needs of the city now and into the future,” stated Bernita Demery, director of financial services for the city of Greenville. “During our search for a new ERP solution we found a number of peer government organizations that have implemented Munis with favorable results.”
Guidewire Software, number 205 on the 2013 Software 500, reached $232.1 million in software and services revenue in the ranking year, with growth of 35 percent on the strength of its focus on the property/casualty insurance industry.
Rockhill Insurance Group of Kansas City recently deployed Guidewire PolicyCenter as its new underwriting and policy administration software, and Guidewire BillingCenter as its new billing system. Rockhill selected the products to help it consolidate its systems, increase business agility, and enhance the experience of customers and agents. “Leveraging the flexibility of the Guidewire platform, we have met our specific needs to provide the best service possible to our agents and customers,” stated Phil Cole, VP underwriting and operations for Rockhill. Michelle Glasl, business implementation manager for Rockhill, stated, “Since implementing PolicyCenter, we’ve become more nimble in our ability to respond to market changes. Guidewire technology gives us the ability to make rate changes without involving a developer.”
Capital Insurance Group (CIG), a property/casualty insurer serving the Western U.S., recently selected Guidewire BillingCenter to help oversee its billing operation across all lines of its business, including commission calculations. The product’s functionality, flexible configuration options, ease of integration and intuitive user interface appealed to CIG. “In the past, when we wanted to make a change to our billing system, it became a time consuming and involved process due to the complexity of our system’s architecture,” says Rads Mydam, CIO, CIG. “We are looking forward to being able to more easily make changes, and when we ultimately upgrade the system, we foresee the process going quickly and smoothly given BillingCenter’s highly configurable platform.”
One solution does not often fit all when it comes to business technology. Vertical focused software solutions enable innovation across a variety of industries from RFID to utilities.
Keep watching the vertical software space for more coverage of successful software companies that may not be household names. SW
Jul2014, Software Magazine