“We believe that our data warehousing and business intelligence work has positioned Xcel Energy as an industry leader,” says Brian Jore, director of business analytics at Xcel Energy.
Lighting the way
Xcel Energy discovers the power of
The power of integrated data generated impressive and immediate return on investment (ROI) at Xcel Energy, a leading U.S. gas and electric utility company. Within a few months of implementing an analytic data warehouse from Teradata, Xcel Energy had identified new ways to enhance customer satisfaction and improve billing processes.
“In the past, like most utilities, we required information to be pulled from different sources and pieced together to give a static picture of the business,” explains Xcel Energy Director of Business Analytics Brian Jore. “Without an integrated environment, we had to manually build dozens and dozens of scripts to consolidate and analyze data. The process was highly labor-intensive and time-consuming. Our manual analytics did provide business value, but we knew we could drive even greater insight through an integrating environment that aligned with the broader business process.”
“These new insights drive revenue recovery and velocity and, even more importantly, enable
Working with Teradata, Xcel Energy integrated data into a single environment for improved end-to-end views of the business. Launched in early 2009, the first phase of the initiative combined data on meter inventory, meter reading, billing and collections. Having all of this information on a single platform allowed for improved analytics that previously couldn’t be done. This project has helped uncover new business insights and enabled new process controls.
The integration of data collected daily from customers, meter inventory, meter reading and billing systems allows Xcel Energy to more easily track meters through the billing life cycle each month. “While striving to recover our allowed return is important to us, the primary objective of this effort is to ensure we account for all of our meters and accurately measure and bill our customers for their usage. Increasing our performance in this area improves our customer satisfaction by reducing billing anomalies while keeping our costs down, which is good for everyone,” Jore notes.
By analyzing billing data, the utility can also determine which accounts may require additional attention to improve customer satisfaction. Long term, Xcel Energy plans to add business intelligence (BI) capabilities to tap the data warehouse for a pop-up screen of all pertinent actions call center workers need to take as individual customers call in.
“These new insights drive revenue recovery and velocity and, even more importantly, enable root-cause analysis leading to operational improvements that translate to improved service to our customers,” says Jore. Through visualization, process controls allow management to see exactly where problems arise and make fact-based decisions about how to address them. The integrated environment enables end-to-end reconciliation of meters every day and at month-end. This identifies potential billing problems earlier and facilitates analysis to understand trends and patterns, leading to continuous improvement.
Operationally, the utility’s Business Analytics team can now deliver better information in less time. The team used to build scripts manually to consolidate and analyze data. In the new environment, one script that used to have 194 lines of code and took two hours to run now has half the lines of code and runs in 3.5 minutes. This new environment has allowed the team to deliver more value and make greater use of existing resources.
In the new environment, one script that used to have 194 lines of code and took two hours to run now has half the lines of code and
runs in 3.5 minutes.
Further plans for the data warehouse include:
- Smart meter incremental usage data will enable customer segmentation and campaign management. Instead of reading meter data once a month, Xcel Energy will read it every 15 minutes with the SmartGridCity™ pilot. By segmenting consumers based on the way they use power, the utility plans to target certain customers to show them how to be more efficient at times when their energy usage peaks.
- Integrating supply chain data will drive spend analytics and uncover opportunities to reduce procurement costs.
- Incorporating tax and audit data will make it easier to comply with regulations from individual states and cities as well as respond to audits.
- Online account management will empower customers to access their billing and usage histories directly through a Web portal.
Already an innovative force in smart grid technology and renewable wind energy, Xcel Energy is once again proving to be a pioneer with its approach to data integration and analytics. In so doing, the company is blazing a new path that others are sure to follow.
“We believe that our data warehousing and business intelligence work has positioned Xcel Energy as an industry leader that can provide value to others as they work to manage the massive amount of real-time data being generated as the energy grid moves into the modern age,” adds Jore.