Conversant Inc. introduces object-oriented CIS

DALLAS, Texas, June 10, 2002 — Conversant Inc., is launching its Customer Watchâ„- software, marking what it says is a significant milestone in the evolution of CIS software.

Customer Watch is one of the first CIS applications to exploit the flexibility and benefits of object-oriented programming, a technology that supports the latest features and benefits of advanced CIS concepts, the company said.

Customer Watch is also unique in that it was developed at a utility company by a team of CIS experts after a comprehensive analysis of existing vendors and products failed to identify a CIS that met their company’s needs for flexibility and functionality.

Stan Royal, president and CEO of Conversant, has previously been involved with the commercial launch of other software products developed within the utility industry. With this unique development paradigm, he believes his company has an offering that is an extremely timely CIS product for the fast changing utility industry.

Product Features
“Everyone in our industry wants and needs flexibility. They need software that does not limit their ability to offer new products and services, whether regulated or non-regulated, as the industry continues to evolve,” Royal says.

Customer Watch was designed to adapt to whatever business model a utility operates, eliminating the need for costly customizations and removing obstacles that require companies to change their business processes or retrain their people in order to take advantage of software features.

Customer Watch was designed as a 100% Java solution, so it offers the immediate benefit of being platform neutral. It can operate on any existing hardware, work with any database, and run with any software operating system, eliminating costs associated with expensive system upgrades, Royal says.

The product features robust functionality to handle customer and account management, complex rate structures, customer billing and usage management, credit and collections, inventory management, service order management, and other standard CIS functions.

In addition, Customer Watch offers advanced features that allow for wireless access on PDAs, cell phones, e-mail pagers, and PocketPCs.

The product includes customer self-service functions, including electronic bill presentation and payment using an intuitive web browser interface.

From a support standpoint, Customer Watch is extremely simple to use, reducing training time for users who find the screens easy to navigate. This ease of use also decreases call times.

The product was designed to allow the utility’s own IT staff to make modular changes, add regulated or non-regulated products and services, and bring those services to market quicker, all while ensuring reliable accounting and accurate billing.

Customer Watch History
Customer Watch originally was developed by IT experts at Empire District Electric Company in Joplin, Missouri. Empire provides both regulated and deregulated services to customers across a four-state region.

According to Bill Gipson, Empire’s Chief Executive Officer, the company decided to build its own system when it failed to find any existing product that fully met their business needs or fit their budget parameters.

Gipson says Empire has been using the software exclusively since early 2000. It has proven to be so flexible, he says, that he never thinks twice about whether his CIS can handle a business change, even in an era when change is pervasive and requires rapid implementation.

Empire’s success with the product led to the creation of Conversant as a non-regulatd subsidiary in January 2002. Empire recruited Royal from industry leader Peace Software to head the company, build a sales, marketing and support team, and spearhead the commercial launch of Customer Watch.

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