On October 5, 2012, ZE Conference Organizers (ZECO) concluded its third annual conference and user forum at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Vancouver. Conference participants from various energy and commodity industry backgrounds heard presentations and discussed the latest trends and developments in the ever-evolving North American data markets. They were provided an opportunity to learn about new data products and requirements, as well as new corporate approaches to data utilization.

A two day ZEMA User Forum following the conference provided clients with an insightful glimpse of the ZEMA product roadmap. A series of detailed presentations demonstrated the functionality enhancements in various ZEMA modules. The interactive forum also offered a platform for users to share experiences and network with other ZEMA clients. A case study from Mike Stansky, an analyst at FirstEnergy Solutions, provided an inside look at how ZEMA is being leveraged within his organization.

The theme of the conference, which preceded the User Forum, was Staying Ahead of the Curve: Trends and Challenges in Energy and Commodities Data. Aiman El-Ramly, Chief Strategy Officer, and Bruce Colquhoun, Business Development Manager, both from ZE, were joined by James Yu, Managing Director at Willis Group Consulting for a detailed presentation of the changes affecting data in the North American market. The panel discussed one of the biggest proposed regulation changes since the Great Depression, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and stressed the importance of having agile systems that can adapt easily and implement changes as they happen.

A “Big Data Panel” consisting of Dave Elpers, Account Manager at IIR Energy, Larry Heitkemper, Vice President of Weather Services at MDA EarthSat Weather, Jay Pruett, Head of Business Development at Argus Media Inc., and Randy Wilson, Managing Director at Platts discussed the reality of a data deluge. The panel articulated the importance of determining which data to collect, and of doing research and analysis in a timely manner. It was remarked that overcoming the challenges of delivering big data in a meaningful and useful way is what drives effective decision-making and client satisfaction. Ajay Batra, Director at Opportune joined ZE’s Richard Leonard, Business Account Manager, for the “EDM to ETRM Integration” panel. During this session it was noted that seamless integration between an organization’s EDM and ETRM systems provides strong corporate return.

The growth in scope and complexity of forward curves was highlighted during the Curves, Curves, Curves panel presentation, which included ZE analysts, Vlad Alexeyev and Alexey Melekhin, Jay Pruett and Randy Wilson. The presenters emphasized the importance of forward curves when making trading decisions and showcased some of the new techniques being employed to manage and automate curve generation.

The event was sponsored by Allegro, Opportune, IIR Energy, Argus Media, Platts, MDA EarthSat Weather and Willis Group Consulting. Their participation played a key role in the success of this year’s event, which ZECO hopes to emulate next year.