Exploring data to fuel better decisions

Energy network operator Enexis uses SAS® Visual Analytics to give employees the insights they need, quickly and accurately

Energy companies are more than a network of generation sources, wires and meters. Each of their assets creates data, which can fuel better decisions – if the staff can access and understand what the data is saying. The trick is to find a way to make sense of all of this information.

Enexis, an energy company serving 2.75 million customers in the Netherlands, faced the challenge of a very IT-dependent process for creating and delivering business intelligence reports. Historically when employees needed reports or analysis, they had to turn to the IT department. With more than 4,500 employees, that took valuable time from IT staff.

We get even more out of our data now that we can simply click on the reports and gain insights into the underlying factors.
marco van steenbrugggen

Marco van Steenbruggen
Manager of Reporting Analysis and Quality

To make its data more accessible, Enexis deployed SAS Visual Analytics. Employees can now build their own reports and examine the data that they need to do their job more effectively.

“Our department’s most important job is providing the business with good information,” said Marco van Steenbruggen, Manager of Reporting Analysis and Quality at Enexis. “Our data had been widely available, but our ability to extract usable insights was lacking.”

A reporting tool everyone can use

When it came to producing reports, speed and performance were important requirements for Enexis. Because SAS Visual Analytics is accessible and visually compelling, all levels of the organization, from management to administration, quickly signed up to use it.

“The performance is amazing,” said van Steenbruggen. “Because SAS Visual Analytics is an in-memory tool, you can work very fast. We get even more out of our data now that we can simply click on the reports and gain insights into the underlying factors.”

That data exploration drives valuable actions. For example, Enexis can see what part of the electrical grid is down – or may be about to go down – so it can respond faster. “We never used to have this detailed level of information,” said van Steenbruggen. “Its added value became immediately clear.”

Real self-service experience

Previously, Enexis produced a huge variety of different reports, but SAS Visual Analytics put an end to this proliferation. Using the new platform, van Steenbruggen’s team created a standardized report for each business question. Now anyone can create a report. Employees don’t need to be programmers or know how to use Hadoop; they have the ability to be self-sufficient.

Additionally, the process of creating reports is much faster. “In the past, it could take months to translate a reporting need into a concrete product. And with our previous solution, it could take up to four days to actually build a report,” van Steenbruggen says. “Now with SAS Visual Analytics, we can create a report within two hours.” The time shift enables Enexis to do more with data and analysis than ever before.

“Not only does this allow us to respond to new situations faster, it also saves on valuable personnel hours,” van Steenbruggen said. “Being able to control information yourself cuts down on frustration.”

With faster access to reports, the company is finding ways to operate more effectively. For instance, by the end of 2020, Enexis intends to install more than 3 million smart meters. SAS helped detect an inconsistency in a financial report about the purchase of those meters. “Because this discrepancy was immediately highlighted in SAS Visual Analytics, we were able to respond quickly and rectify the situation – and that makes a real difference,” said van Steenbruggen.

Becoming a data-driven company

Enexis is increasingly becoming an analytics-driven organization, where all its decision making is based on data. Today, 98 percent of the reports from Steenbruggen’s business unit are made with SAS Visual Analytics.

“The temptation to rely on your gut feeling is strong,” said van Steenbruggen. “But it’s important to support gut feelings with analyses.” Now that Enexis has made the step toward self-service intelligence, the company handles data far more strategically.

“Conducting more analyses will strengthen our organization,” he said. “Analyses result in better reports, and better reports result in better management decisions.” This methodology leads to process improvements and allows data and analytics to be used proactively.

In addition to supplying electricity and gas, Enexis is also working on sustainable solutions, such as wind, solar and biomass. The company is focused on creating a better, more efficient grid that is ready to meet the needs of the future. “SAS helps us stay innovative,” said van Steenbruggen. “We have a better vision of our business, and we know that we can advance our efforts and profitability because we have the right solution in place.”

logo-enexis

Challenge

Make data more accessible to employees to improve decision making in grid operations.

Solution

SAS® Visual Analytics

Benefits

  • Better control over data and reports thanks to self-service BI.
  • Reduced dependence on IT staff.
  • Faster insights through visually compelling reports.
  • More strategic use of data to stay innovative and profitable.
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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