Information & Data Management News

“Never Ending Conversion” vs Agile Warehousing

I recently supported replacing an entrenched mainframe customer care solution with a bleeding edge utilities solution from Oracle.  Balancing scope of converted history vs project cost quickly became the primary contention during our business advisory board meetings.  The change requests were beginning to stack up to get more financial transaction and consumption/demand history into the new solution.

My team had been sprinting along, migrating operational reports into BI Publisher for items critical to business day 1.  During our architectural assessment, we deferred the creation of a full data warehouse due to cost and project timelines.   However, our estimates for building the warehouse quickly became palatable compared to the cost of converting more historical data into the new ERP.

Opportunity

The client had three key accelerators that could be used as building blocks for an enterprise warehouse:

  • Oracle Utilities Advanced Spatial and Operational Analytics (OUASA, previously OBIU), out of the box BI extractors for the new ERP
  • Oracle OBIEE/BI Publisher, enterprise class reporting solution
  • Existing mainframe data marts that could provide legacy data for key facts/dimensions

Based on these accelerators, we were able to scope a broad data foundation for the initial release even though we had only a handful of metric use cases driving the project.  This would set the foundation for adoption because the warehouse is the only location to seamlessly report across legacy and future state data.  This was a key success factor for the two biggest warehouse consumers, customer service and credit & collections.  Customer service reps needed a bill determinate dashboard to quickly research and address concerns from customers related to historical usage, consumption or bill/payment amounts.  Credit and collections needed to traverse an account’s historical poor performance to demonstrate compliance to the utilities commission procedures for customer complaints.

Quick Wins

Bill Determinates ->  Day 1, business had seamless billing/meter read details at their finger-tips across old and new.

 We deployed the bill determinate/transactional history dashboards with the ERP go-live.  With the last minute addition of a button to the ERP dashboard, customer service reps could launch the dashboard from within the ERP account screen with a single click.  No swivel chair integration between old and new while addressing customers concerns.

Credit and Collections  ->  Day 1, Credit and Collection Lifecycle events (with arrears snapshot!)

The Achilles heel for the new ERP system is that it did not maintain point in time history.  This was a gap for the credit and collections teams.  The utilities commission requires this to justify severance of unpaying customers and for the client to dispute fraudulent customer complaints.  Leveraging the OBIA framework for enactments, an arrears snapshot was captured for all relevant collection events (customer contact, field activity, late payment fee….) without the customization of the ERP.

Smart Meter Foundation ->  Analytics engine to support the emerging smart grid

As the client rolls out their advanced meter infrastructure, this solution can flex to accommodate the following transformation in the electric transmission/distribution industry:

  • Allow the utility to create pricing models for Time of Use (TOU) rates
  • Source for customers to see their hourly consumption/pricing, offloading this burden from the transactional system
  • Analysis of net-metering impact on customer profitability

Adam Sigg
Director, Customer Solutions Group