Strategy for a Utilities based unified intelligence platform

The utility market in Australia is undergoing a rapid transformation with the addition of multiple renewable sources, battery storage solutions and ever-increasing expectations from customers.  As a result, many companies are undertaking digital transformation to stay ahead in a highly competitive and changing marketplace.

Ignite Data was engaged by SAP to position a strategy for a unified intelligence platform for strategic insights, analytics, innovation and reporting for one of Australia’s largest energy distributors. The focus of the strategy was to provide a comprehensive direction for the intelligence platform, establish the executive vision and goals, define the business needs and outcomes, provide an in-depth blueprint for solution capability and a recommendation for the operating model and roadmap over the near, medium and long-term horizon.

We were chosen for our strategy and architecture experience as well as our comprehensive industry knowledge.  The ability to provide a single blueprint for a distributor expanding across urban and regional territories required strong industry knowledge to understand the business plan and the prominent use cases leveraging this platform. Alongside this we also have significant hands on experience around the integration of both SAP and non-SAP capabilities (such as Hadoop) to handle the volume of generated data from within the distribution area.

On conclusion of the engagement, the client now has a comprehensive approach to building out their intelligence capabilities that will handle near term and future needs.

This capability was positioned to support enterprise and regulatory reporting, self-service and agile insights as well provide the tools to enable disruption through data science and advanced analytics.

Our strategy framework leads us to ask questions and dig into what is important for each organisation

Our approach to the engagement followed four key stages, following the basis of our Ignite strategy framework.

  • Definition of the vision and business outcomes required to run and grow the business, now and in the future.
  • Identification of the capabilities required to deliver these outcomes.
  • Recommend the organisational model and behaviours needed to leverage the capabilities and enable a data driven culture.
  • Presentation and definition of a road-map for capability implementation, initiatives and next steps.

Key to the success was the approach taken to  design thinking workshops with senior business stakeholders, helping to provide key user stories for the decisions needed to enable business objectives and innovation, with the data and capability that would be required to support these decisions. The result was a detailed strategy that provided the client with an initial high-level blueprint, with which to initiate change.

Strategic investment decisions had been made prior to our engagement, meaning we were working to provide a high-level solution design outlining how the chosen investments could be leveraged to achieve the outcomes required by the business.  The chosen platform revolved around HANA 2.0, with a drive from the client to apply the latest versions and technology to enable innovation.  This would expand into a changing ERP landscape with the capacity to move to S4/HANA, and the ability to provide integrated big data capability with Hadoop.

The intent of the strategy was to define the capability that would provide consolidated visibility across the organisation, as well as provide a differentiator to enable innovation.  This was seen as a step change to move beyond the traditional reporting platforms used and would allow the organisation to safely explore and promote new ideas into production solutions and processes where appropriate.

This engagement offered us an opportunity to do things differently and embrace a new style of leveraging all of the latest innovations from SAP in regard to HANA technology, without the usual limitations of retaining existing solutions or legacy tools.  Working closely with SAP globally on this campaign provided valuable learnings around the ways in which these newer products and components can come together to provide more value.

Our final deliverable on this project was the presentation of a comprehensive overarching strategy along with supporting blueprint documents for Chief Digital Office and board approval. Covered in the strategy presented were:

  • The executive vision, goals and guiding principles.
  • Required business outcomes and needs aligned to current Business Unit Plans.
  • End-to-end solution architecture and a high-level blueprint (covering HANA, S/4HANA, Hadoop Data Lake, Integration, Security and Visualisation tools).
  • A recommended operating model, covering resource and process considerations.
  • An approach to advanced analytics and self-service, including deployment approach to operationalise insights.
  • A transitional road-map and next steps.