Raising efficiency and return on marketing and sales

SAS Visual Analytics lives up to the expectations at Electrabel GDF SUEZ

How to use available budgets in an optimal and targeted manner to extract the highest possible return? SAS data visualization can help, and Electrabel confirms. SAS enables their marketing and sales teams to approach existing and potential customers in a more precisely targeted manner. It also optimizes internal performance and workload management. In other words, data visualization enhances reporting, making it possible to do far more with fewer resources.

SAS has a long track record as a provider of efficient business reporting solutions. Yes, it was quite an investment, but we got a future-oriented platform of reporting in return.

Danny Noppe
Reporting Architecture & Development Manager,
Electrabel Marketing & Sales

Data as a differentiator

“It is a huge challenge to stabilize our market position in the energy market. That includes volume, prices and margins for both retail and business customers,” notes Danny Noppe, Reporting Architecture & Development Manager at Electrabel Marketing & Sales. That is why the company has chosen to increase the efficiency of its customer communications. “We are also tapping into new digital channels. Moreover, we are developing new energy-related services.”

This is why gaining a more precise insight into the behavior of customers and prospects is becoming increasingly important. “The better we know the customer, the better our likelihood of success. That is why we combine information from various sources—phone traffic with the customer, online questions, text messages, and mail campaigns. This enhanced knowledge of our customer and prospect base will be an additional advantage within our competitive market.”

Single point of view, one truth

Electrabel Marketing & Sales was using various platforms and tools for reporting purposes. This sometimes led to ambiguity in the reported figures. In addition, the huge amounts of data to be handled was causing performance issues.

SAS Visual Analytics (VA), with in-memory technology would get rid of many of these restrictions and offer the single version of the truth. “SAS VA also offers us sufficient autonomy and flexibility to respond to the increasing demand of customer insight and data visualization internally. After all, fast reporting is an essential requirement for action-oriented departments such as sales and marketing,” acknowledges Noppe.

Working more efficiently at lower cost

Initially, the SAS VA technology was implemented by a joint team. It consisted of Electrabel’s own IT staff and the Marketing & Sales Reporting Team, as well as external employees of SAS and Keyrus, the company appointed by SAS for the implementation.

The team worked closely together until the first two reports were delivered. This was an important criterion for success since it involved a new technology and it was critical to achieve results quickly in terms of internal perception. “We built the first pilot report from scratch in just a few weeks. We purposefully chose to start with a pilot report for which the data structures were clear and where only the SAS presentation layer had to be built. Soon after, we achieved our second success: we developed a reporting set that gave us clear graphical insight into the invoicing and composition of invoices for B2B customers.”

“Previously, the data preparation for this solution took more than 2 days. Today, this process only takes about two hours. We have significantly improved our efficiency and can deliver quality data and reports more frequently, and at a significantly lower cost.”

More measuring, better decisions

In the meantime, Electrabel Marketing & Sales has developed five additional and completely new reports in SAS VA. One focuses on workload management within the operational teams. “This takes into account completed tasks, inflow of new tasks, etc. Linked to the availability of resources data, this report enables our team leaders to evaluate their team’s workload on a weekly basis or analyze the evolution of the workload over a longer period of time. This helps us achieve greater efficiency.”

“We are using the ability of SAS to integrate data from many sources to combine them into dedicated datamarts and make them available in SAS VA. Building visual reports, based on these datamarts, can be achieved in a few days, or even a few hours,” explains Noppe.

Complete automation

With the new version of SAS VA implemented, Electrabel Marketing & Sales will be able to broaden its insight in the digital behavior of its customers, combining customer data from Web analytics, E-mail, Social Media with data from our Back-End systems.

For the future, Electrabel Marketing & Sales has plans that are just as far-reaching as their recent successes. “We want to replace all labor-intensive reporting with a fully-automated solution in SAS VA. This will give us more time to tackle other challenges. We also want to make this tool available on our mobile devices. This will allow, for example, our account managers to use up-to-date, insightful and adaptable reports and show them to the customer, at his premises,” concludes Noppe.

Electricity Pole


  • Increase efficiency of customer communication
  • Optimize workload management.


SAS® Visual Analytics


  • Single point of view, 1 truth.
  • Fast, flexible reporting.
  • Increased operational efficiency.

Lessons Learned

  • Invest in training for the developers. All of our developers followed the three-day SAS Visual Analytics training course. We then centralized the Visual Analytics assignment in a team that works full-time with the tool. While they are not specialists in all aspects of our business, they are SAS VA specialists. This means they know the tool inside out and manage it in a professional manner.
  • Data preparation is the key. Once you have the data at your disposal, SAS VA is an amazing tool enabling our team of developers to draw up a report in just a few minutes. But you have to decide where you want to store detailed data and make the aggregated calculations: in SAS datawarehouse or SAS VA.
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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