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PriceWaterhouseCoopers targets utilities

PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IT services and consulting firm SPL WorldGroup announce an e-business alliance geared toward the utilities industry.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IT services and consulting firm SPL WorldGroup today announced an e-business alliance geared toward the utilities industry.

Announced at the 1999 Customer Information System (CIS) conference in Orlando, the two companies said in a statement that they will work together to help utility companies acquire, service, and maintain customers using SPL's upgraded version of its flagship CIS Plus software. SPL's Plus software automates and supports all areas of customer service and management for both the regulated and deregulated utility markets.

SPL, which has offices worldwide, including the United States, Australia, Israel, and Europe, unveiled its new version of the software earlier today. The upgraded Plus software includes a Web-based component so that businesses and customers have the ability to engage in utility-related business and customer service support via the Internet.

As part of the agreement, New York-based PriceWaterhouseCoopers will provide consulting and implementation services to companies using the CIS Plus product line. PriceWaterhouseCoopers said it will install and integrate large utilities companies who use the Plus software as well as advise the companies on customer relationship management.

Since more utilities companies are competing in the newly deregulated industry, they're faced with management challenges that stem from the fact that their customer base no longer needs to depend on them for their electricity or other utility needs, the companies said. To prepare for these industry changes, PricewaterhouseCoopers and SPL have agreed to help utilities companies strengthen their customer relationships using the new Web-based software.

"There was a mutual benefit for each of us going into this alliance," Barry O'Connor, SPL director of third party relations, said in a brief phone interview. O'Connor emphasized PriceWaterhouseCoopers' experience in customization and development in the utility industry which is also helping SPL expand its bandwidth capabilities.

Under the agreement, utility companies will be able to exchange information on supply and generation of power via the Internet with the companies who provide them services. In addition, consumers will be able to pay their bills, change their services, and monitor their accounts online.

Although O'Connor wouldn't disclose the company names and accounts that the two firms plan to team with in the near term, he did say they included large-scale power and electric companies. The Web-based software and services will be available this July, he said.