If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.

—Mario Andretti.

 

Nothing seems to draw attention to the perception of speed like a review of a year just ending. After ubiquitous holiday greetings the next most expressed sentiment at this time of year is, “I can’t believe another year is almost over.” As one of the world’s former top race car drivers Mr. Andretti knows a lot about speed, in fact his name became synonymous with speed. ZE, one of the world’s best data management software companies, also knows all about speed. However, whereas in Mr. Andretti’s world pushing the boundary of speed implies tenuous control, in ZE’s world maintaining control over speed at all times means everything. Speed in their case is the rapidly changing data universe. For ZE control of this universe means doing what they have always done, that is, know what companies need in order to be competitive and profitable, and develop great enterprise data management software to serve that purpose. In 2012, they continued to do just that.

The data universe is a reflection of world, economic and industry conditions, and 2012 was a year of change for all three. “2012 has certainly been one of the most dramatic years in recent history, especially when you think back on the Arab Spring, the general economic state globally, and the transformation of energy and commodity markets,” says Aiman El-Ramly, Chief Strategy Officer for ZE.

Despite recent good news about Canadian and US employment figures the global economy in 2012, and many companies, did not fully recover from the aftermath of the 2008-2009 crisis; even so, ZE had a successful year, growing as a company and further improving its products. Its product, its software suite ZEMA, continued to impress those organizations that rely on data and data analysis and many more of them signed on with confidence that ZEMA was the only contender that will handle the ever shifting ground of data management. Among new clients were a major global bank, an international commodity management and trading company, a first client in the Middle East, a first client in Asia, and the world’s largest futures exchange.

Nature also contributed to the drama in 2012 with several disasters, the most recent of which was the super storm Sandy.  That costly hurricane took many lives and showed us how vulnerable many of our systems and institutions are. Many companies were forced to shut down in October because of Sandy. Rebuilding devastated neighborhoods and getting people help was the first order of work and ZE was proud to be part of a speedy recover on the financial and business side with ZEMA providing data and automating processes during, and immediately following, the tragedy.

Sandy even affected the US election as President Obama and presidential candidate Romney put a hold on campaigning until the storm blew over. Whether the hold made a difference for the Romney campaign is difficult to determine but with the Obama win it certainly means that the huge business processes regulatory bill known simply as Dodd-Frank will push forward unabated. Romney would have either killed it or significantly watered it down. ZE developed its own agenda during 2012 for the bill, with ZEMA it will provide a technological assist for the information gathering and reporting that companies are faced with when all of the 398 Dodd-Frank regulations kick in. Not stopping there, they formed a partnership with Houston based Willis Group Consulting, a firm with expertise in Dodd-Frank compliance. ZE and Willis Group will determine and fill gaps for organizations requiring Dodd-Frank compliance.

ZE has no shortage of friends when it comes to offering a complete data management package to clients and 2012 saw further strengthening of existing partnerships and the shaping of new ones. Not only do partnerships with companies that complement ZE’s products make good business sense, they enable clients to achieve greater value when they buy ZEMA, something ZE is keenly aware of and actively promotes.  Partnerships for ZE are also a means of staying connected with industry developments and another vehicle for determining where the compass will point when it comes to finding the best solutions for product development.

Being connected is a theme that runs throughout the company’s history and 2012 saw no slowdown of the company’s effort to be involved in industry related conferences and events, either as an attendee, a sponsor, or host. Altogether, there were over 36 events from Vancouver to Houston to Geneva, more than in any other year. Such exchanges are a keystone for ZE’s business approach. Not only do they allow ZE to steer product development based on listening first hand to the needs of clients and potential clients, they also provide a platform for exchanging knowledge, discussing trends and best strategies, and extending support to ZE’s growing client base. The latter being mostly in the form of the many lunch and learns ZE hosted in 2012. At all events industry experts are brought together and speak on a wide range of topics from big data to the importance of curves as essential elements in buying and selling of energy and commodities. The principle event for ZE is their annual conference and user forum in Vancouver, near their corporate offices. Held in October, the theme of the 2012 conference was staying ahead of the curve, trends and challenges in energy and commodities’ markets. That event was a success, not only for its ability to draw attendees, but for its distillation of complex issues and questions down to essential elements that answer many questions foremost on people’s minds.

ZE’s passion for sharing knowledge went to high gear in 2012 with expansion of its team dedicated to presenting webinars and industry news. Over 520 webinar hours provided a wide range of valuable information from getting more out of ZEMA to the current state for natural gas producers and consumers.

And, if you couldn’t find answers by attending one the webinars then most likely you’d find what you needed in DataWatch, ZE’s first class freely distributed monthly online magazine. DataWatch is the only publication of its kind that describes how markets are analyzed and how they can be analyzed with ZEMA. The magazine is also a rich source of articles, observations and news about data for energy and commodities markets. In 2012 ZE also began monthly distribution of a second online publication called A to ZE. It’s a freely available newsletter for clients, and is packed with information about new features and enhancements to ZEMA, as well as helpful tips on how to get more out of the software.

If it was information or an opinion you wanted from a company analyst, IT specialist or executive then you wouldn’t have had to go any farther than ZE’s blog site. The site really took off in 2012 and was where you would find dozens of blogs on topics from how companies can benefit from ZEMA to the European Energy Trade Summit to Emerging Data Technology, Data Governance and Semantic Data Models.

Meanwhile, product development surged ahead on two fronts during 2012. ZEMA, the data gathering, analysis, integration and management software suite getting so much attention these days saw all kinds of feature improvements and enhancements.

An already powerful suite was made even better as a result of an expanded IT effort, and there were hundreds of new data reports added to the already long list of reports that ZE brings in every day. While existing products underwent improvement ZE put considerable resources toward development of the next version of the suite. ZEMA 4.0 will have a completely new look and many new features; its launch in 2013 is widely anticipated. Managed Services and Hosted Services were launched in 2012 and broadened ZE’s range of data management options available to clients. Not to be outdone, ZE’s Support Services added to their team and with pride made better their already great around the clock client support service.

All-in-all, there were 60 people hired across all functional areas in the company in 2012. ZE believes in putting significant resources behind its research, product development and support endeavors. Beside that effort, the company increased its presence with two new offices in 2012, one in London and one in Singapore, each supporting existing clients, and anticipated new clients, in those regions.

Although ZE is client driven and has its head down hard at work at research and product development for those clients, there were a few moments of celebrating awards and recognition that the company received in 2012.

ZE was picked by Allegro for its Innovator of the Year award. ZE also won Energy Risk’s Data Management House of the Year, and ZEMA stood out and was ranked number one for Preferred System and Ease of Integration by Consultancy, as well as having the Best Customer Service, as voted by software end-users. The Data Management House of the Year award in 2012 makes it the fourth consecutive year ZE has won the award, an unprecedented achievement that indicates that ZE makes a product that is not only innovative but continues to meet the evolving needs of the market.

2012 was a good year for ZE, but the company does not rest on its laurels. “We have to be mindful and thankful for our blessings and humble in our demeanor,” reflected El-Ramly, “We at ZE work very hard to ensure that we maintain our momentum and that we continue to serve our clients and the market with integrity.”

As for 2013, it is difficult to predict what the year will bring.  “There will be no miraculous recovery,” says  El-Ramly, “but it does seem that people are beginning to look for answers in the same direction, and that gives us hope that the year will be a positive one.”