Visual analytics helps energy supplier make better connections

Electrabel uses interactive reporting and data exploration to develop customer insight, competitiveness and operational efficiency

If you need to easily track marketing budgets, balance employee workloads and target customers with tailored marketing messages, you probably think you need three different solutions. Electrabel GDF SUEZ is doing all of that for its marketing and sales business unit with SAS® Visual Analytics.

We have significantly improved our efficiency and can deliver quality data and reports more frequently, and at a significantly lower cost.

Danny Noppe
Reporting Architecture and Development Manager

The one-solution approach is a great time-saver for marketing professionals in an industry that is undergoing tremendous change. “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 and Development Manager in the Electrabel Marketing and Sales business unit. The company is the largest supplier of electricity in Belgium and the largest producer of electricity for Belgium and the Netherlands. Noppe says it is critical that Electrabel increase the efficiency of its customer communications as it explores new digital channels and develops new energy-related services.

“The better we know the customer, the better our likelihood of success,” he says. “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.”

One version of the truth

Electrabel was using various platforms and tools for reporting purposes. This sometimes led to ambiguity in the reported figures. The utility also had performance issues in processing large data volumes. SAS Visual Analytics with in-memory technology removes the ambiguity and the performance issues. “We have the autonomy and flexibility to respond to the need for customer insight and data visualization internally,” Noppe says. “After all, fast reporting is an essential requirement for action-oriented departments such as sales and marketing.”

Working more efficiently at lower cost

SAS Visual Analytics automates the process of updating information in reports. Instead of building a report that is out of date by the time it is completed, the data is refreshed for all the reports once a week and is available on dashboards. In deploying the solution, Electrabel chose a phased approach starting with simple reports and moving on to more complex ones. The first report took a few weeks to build, and the rest came quickly. The successes include:

  • Data that took two days to prepare now takes only two hours.
  • Clear graphical insight into the invoicing and composition of invoices for B2B customers.
  • A workload management report by the operational teams. Managers can evaluate team workloads on a weekly or long-term basis, and can make adjustments accordingly.

“We have significantly improved our efficiency and can deliver quality data and reports more frequently, and at a significantly lower cost,” says Noppe.  And if the company needs to combine data from multiple sources, the process is equally easy. “Building visual reports, based on these data marts, can be achieved in a few days, or even a few hours.”

Noppe says the company plans to continue broadening its insight into the digital behavior of its customers, combining data from web analytics, email and social media with data from back-end systems.

“Eventually, we want to replace all labor-intensive reporting with SAS Visual Analytics,” he says, adding that the flexibility of SAS Visual Analytics is critical for his department. “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 our account managers to use up-to-date, insightful and adaptable reports when visiting customers.

“We’ve got a future-oriented reporting platform to do all we need.”



  • Continue to evolve in the competitive energy market.
  • Target customers with customized marketing messages.
  • Optimize marketing workload management.


SAS® Visual Analytics


  • One platform for customer data.
  • Fast, flexible reporting.
  • Ability to present data and results in a visual, high-impact way.
  • Data that took two days to prepare now takes two hours.
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.