David Frost, Chief Executive, Ovarro
In a bold move, Servelec Technologies and Primayer rebranded themselves to Ovarro, bringing their technology to monitor and control critical, national infrastructure throughout the world under one brand. As the technology company looks to strengthen its presence in Asia Pacific, Chief Executive David Frost talks to Water & Wastewater Asia.
By the end of 2020, the brand names of Servelec Technologies and Primayer will be phased out, with a new powerhouse standing in their places – Ovarro.
With the same great people who will continue to support clients’ needs and work towards success for them, the name Ovarro drew inspiration from Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro, the first to propose the honeycomb conjecture. He stated that a regular hexagonal grid or honeycomb pattern was the best way to divide a surface into regions of equal area, with the shortest total perimeter.
British naturalist Charles Darwin had also later commented, “the honeycomb is a masterpiece of engineering. It is absolutely perfect in economising labour and wax”.
“The water technology market is entering an extraordinarily vibrant phase. Exceptional efficiencies are sought by our customers and they will only be achieved through working collaboratively and with technologies that create efficiencies. This is what we have tried to capture with our honeycomb theme,” remarked David Frost, chief executive of Ovarro.
A SMOOTH TRANSITION
From day one of the rebranding, Ovarro ensures that communications are done smoothly and closely with global customers and partner networks, and will continue to do so throughout the rest of 2020.
“Key to this engagement is highlighting the benefits of the rebrand. We have some great technologies and unrivalled in-house expertise, and in coming together and integrating our teams in research and development, operations and at the executive level, we can streamline our off er across industries and geographies. Having a single brand to wrap around this unique integrated off er is the most effective way of delivering to our customers and partners,” explained Frost.
By working closely working with a specialist brand agency, the first phase of the rebranding was research and discovery, which looked into Ovarro’s markets and current positioning, including interviews with internal and external stakeholders. This formed the basis of the creative and brand development phase, giving careful consideration to factors such as how the name translated into other languages.
“We wanted the transition to be as smooth and clear for customers as possible, and there has been little change to our working relationships. Billing and payment processes have not changed and there has been no impact on products currently in the field,” said Frost.
In fact, the organisation has received positive feedback from customers and stakeholders who said they are impressed by the new look and feel, and understand the ethos behind it.
THE SOLUTIONS PROVIDER
In the water and wastewater industry, population growth and ageing water networks are some of the most obvious challenges. Alongside that, there is a parallel growth in the industry that puts additional pressure on the water supply.
“We have been looking to develop our software to assist water utilities with planning their infrastructure needs, all the way from sensors that help detect and locate failures in the water pipes, through to the telemetry hardware and software. We’re trying to make these tools more accessible and cloud-based, so users can access them from anywhere,” Frost explained.
And one of the geographies they are looking at is Asia Pacific.
Providing water utilities with the information they need to continue to provide potable water is a core purpose of what Ovarro does. The brands behind Ovarro have spent decades developing solutions for remote monitoring, controlled water supply and water quality, helping customers keep their water supply assets operating securely, which has never been more relevant.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, it will change how business is done.
“Water is such an essential resource that while many industries were temporarily shut, water authorities have continued to operate in Asia and every other part of the world. The challenges they face with restrictions on travel, size of teams, how to get expertise to site without physically being there, all play to how a business like Ovarro can support the market today,” said Frost.
“One of our key focusses is reducing leakage in the water networks. To achieve that requires innovation and technology and this is an area we will continue to invest further in, enabling us to present a broader suite of technologies to the sector.” As growth continues in Asia Pacific, there is a continuing need to address a wide variety of water-related issues due to large parts of Asia that are rural. While water may be abundant, it lacks the infrastructure to pipe clean water to every home.
“On the counter, there are modern, densely populated cities with excellent telecoms and infrastructure but they can be sitting on ageing water networks, coming under increasing pressure from a growing population. Innovation is certainly at the centre of how we can respond to the issues the sector faces,” remarked Frost. And this is what Ovarro is looking at: expanding their partner network so that with combined minds and expertise, they are able to address some of the specific requirements of the market. For instance, communications technology in China can be different to western Europe, and Ovarro strives to partner locally to better address these needs.
Photo credit: Martin Sanchez
ADDRESSING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
With the COVID-19 pandemic circling round the globe, Ovarro is not immune to the impacts of the change.
“Our priority is the continued health and wellbeing of our employees around the world. Around 80% of our employees are working remotely and will continue to do so for some time. We were ahead of the game in pre-testing our IT networks, making sure employees had the right equipment to work remotely and access our systems securely,” said Frost.
He added, “For our production teams continuing to work in our facilities, we have taken steps to protect them by introducing all the offi cial COVID-19 health and safety guidance. It is an evolving situation but we have continued to operate – not as normal because clearly it’s not a normal situation – but disruption to customers has been minimal. With regards to our supply chain, we continue to work very closely with our key suppliers to make sure we have continuity of supply by placing orders through to the end of 2020. This provides a level of longer-term security for our suppliers.”
The organisation is now planning how to come out of the lockdown and return to a new normal, which will provide more challenges. “Our posture is one of caution,” Frost commented.
2020 AND BEYOND
The global water and wastewater industry has faced unique challenges in 2020, changing the way people work and transforming the markets. While the industry has to adjust to short-term challenges, Ovarro’s long-term goals remain the same.
“Of course, COVID-19 means our immediate priority remains the health and wellbeing of our employees, while safely navigating our way through the situation. Alongside that, we are continuing to invest heavily in our global portfolio, both through organic development and the acquisition of additional businesses,” explained Frost.
There is an internet of things (IoT) theme running through Ovarro’s strategy too – remote working, capturing data and applying analytics to provide actionable insight – and a shift in emphasis to become more of an analytics software services company.
“Embracing this technology will enable the water industry to become smarter, more productive and efficient, operate more safely and ultimately save money,” commented Frost.
He went on to explain that the organisation is focusing on areas where they can assist utilities in converting data into actionable insight – from prioritising of leakage, not only accurate identification but pinpointing which leaks to fix first, through to sewage and spillage monitoring and analytics.
In addition, they are looking to reach out to the market and their customer base, through their global sales team and channel partner network. This applies particularly in Asia, where Ovarro has their local support and sales team, as well as a very loyal and established partner network to access the market. “The Asian Pacific market is of real interest to us. Hopefully, once COVID-19 is behind us, we can accelerate our activities there, focusing on areas that may not have had access to some of the technology we offer, and which could be of real benefit to the water and wastewater authorities throughout the region,” said Frost.
The article can be found in Water & Wastewater Asia’s July/August 2020