SmartestEnergy Australia (SEA) is part of a global organisation specialising in delivering energy contracts to SMEs and C&I customers, enabling them along their journey to net zero. Combining their international experience with local expertise, SmartestEnergy Australia offers a range of renewable electricity options with all of their contracts.

SmartestEnergy Australia was granted their retail electricity licence in 2020 and has since expanded to key offices in both Sydney and Melbourne. Established in 2001, SmartestEnergy (UK), SEA’s parent company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Marubeni Corporation of Japan.

The Challenge

As they entered the Australian market, SmartestEnergy Australia already had pockets of investment made in data. The challenge is that, as SmartestEnergy Australia continued to grow and bring on customers like Woolworths, these systems just weren’t designed to scale.

When Mark Bonney, Head of Data Analytics at SmartestEnergy Australia joined the team in November 2022, he asked two key questions: What was the right environment for SmartestEnergy Australia’s technology team and our Citizen Developers to co-exist? What was the right operating model for this to work?

SmartestEnergy Australia’s Citizen Developers are business users who build prototypes, designing a tool or model, to solve a particular business issue. These are often built to address time sensitive needs and are good solutions. Think of traders who need to model a scenario in the heat of the moment. Mark wanted to take these innovative prototypes and bring them into an environment where his technical team could operationalise them, make them robust and scalable. His team viewed these prototypes as a set of requirements to solve to. And he wanted to make sure that any platform or systems they developed aligned with infrastructure used in other parts of the global business.

Enter Ignite.

“We had feedback from business stakeholders that other vendors who had been technically capable, had not really understood our business. My predecessor had gathered a lot of positive feedback on Ignite as an organisation who had both the technical expertise and industry insight. Ignite speaks the language of the energy retailer.”

Mark Bonney, Head of Data Analytics

The Solution

This challenge was all about how Ignite could support the SmartestEnergy Australia team to build and operationalise the products that matter, whilst avoiding pockets of stand-alone applications.

SmartestEnergy Australia had already made a strategic choice in Azure Synapse. They needed to answer – how do we put a robust architecture around that technology so that we build our systems in a consistent way including leveraging other countries’ capabilities within the SmartestEnergy Australia group?

“We wanted to make sure that we benefitted from the learnings of the broader SEA group. We reused what was right for Australia,” adds Mark.

In pitching the concept of Citizen Development and prototype to production, Mark and the team had to convince business teams to let go of what they had built, to hand it over to the technical teams. That is never easy.

“Ignite won the hearts and minds of our Citizen Developers through the engagement. I could let them work with business teams independently, on their own. We are not seeing any resistance to change. Our Citizen Developers bought into the vision. Bought into the tech.”

Ignite worked with the SmartestEnergy Australia team to deliver an operating model and functional design that incorporates the full data delivery lifecycle from prototype, through production to end-user adoption. This design incorporated a detailed description of the people, processes and technology required to stand up the model.

“They are training my team at the same time, my team are learning to be part of a scrum team, uplifting us in terms of design standards from a start-up mentality to a more industrial and scalable way of working. They are teaching us to fish.”

Ignite demonstrated deep technology and data maturity to put the architecture in place. Prior to working with Ignite, the team had not had the time to create a data architecture. Working with John D’Souza from Ignite, the SmartestEnergy Australia team saw the value that brings.

Ignite provided an assessment of the reference architecture, identifying gaps. This assessment included a high-level architecture with subsequent detailed components and system landscape. The team provided SmartestEnergy Australia with a data modelling approach including providing the core ingestion patterns for the Retail Volumes use case.

“They are not just delivering stuff – they are teaching us how to be good at data.”

Analytics Pathway

Identify the potential value in data and create a pathway to realising it.

How do you create confidence in your data investment? By setting your data investment on the right track through the creation of a pathway based on value prioritisation.

Data Platform Build

Create the foundational capability that allows for economical, flexible, and scalable growth.

How do you realise sustainable and repeatable value from your data? By organising your data with a modern data platform, providing a complete solution for the processing, analysing, and presenting data.

Data Product Build

Build data products to realise repeatable and sustainable business value from data.

How do you use data to engage your customers and employees? By creating and operationalising data products that enable strategic and tactical decisions.

The Results

The key result was instilling confidence across both the SmartestEnergy Australia and the SmartestEnergy UK leadership teams that everyone is now working towards an aligned data vision.

“Shortly we will  have a fully demonstrable case study where we have deployed a prototype to full production,” Mark says. “But now we have a way of working and a platform that we have all bought into.”

Now SmartestEnergy Australia needs data. SEA’s Actuals Automations project provides the business teams with reliable and accurate data so they can implement foundational capabilities like forecasting.

“My closest analogy is a restaurant. We hired the staff, set up the kitchen, bought some ingredients – now our Citizen Developers can come into the kitchen and start cooking,” says Mark.

“Our operating model is about enabling the business teams to design their own lunch. We are now focused on stocking the fridges, so they have all the ingredients to get creative!”

Where to next?

The use cases are being compiled, and the team is working hard to build their first productionised prototype. The kitchen is humming!


We believe the best results come when data enables people.

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