Business intelligence systems can help organizations transform data into insights that lead to better decisions — but only if those systems actually get used.
Every utility line in the electricity, gas, communications and heating sectors that has been laid in the network of Schleswig-Holstein Netz AG (SH Netz) is precisely documented in the company’s geographical information system (GIS). These records must be kept up-to-date, ideally on a daily basis.
Approximately 1,000 colleagues regularly access the GIS in their day-to-day work, such as when the relocation of a new line is planned and carried out or a fault has to be rectified.
The challenge is to digitize diagrams of the lines in a reasonable time in order to keep the records up to date. For this reason, SH Netz recognized at an early stage the need for a daily overview of the number of diagrams to be captured for process control.
Introduction of Power BI
In 2022, SH Netz decided to replace its previous visualization tool with Microsoft Power BI, a business intelligence (BI) system that supports dynamic visualizations and analyses. The system can also create interactive reports and dashboards with data from various sources. Thus, it gives users valuable insights that help them make better business decisions.
However, SH Netz faced issues with the implementation of Power BI while working with a consulting firm. Progress was too slow, documentation was incomplete at times and long lead times in data provisioning caused a lack of acceptance. "No one wanted to use the system anymore," says Torsten Husen, team leader of process management for the control of network services at SH Netz.
To revive the project, SH Netz tapped DXC Technology, which is trusted by many of the world's largest energy and utility companies to manage and modernize their mission-critical systems and integrate new digital solutions. DXC helps companies deliver secure and reliable networks, efficient operations, timely and relevant information, and protection against external threats.
DXC has a well-established Microsoft and Microsoft Power BI practice that includes a broad portfolio of services, solutions and capabilities for data-driven environments. This includes services for analytics consulting, AI and IoT analytics, and information governance.
Daily data updates delivered fast
Together, DXC and SH Netz decided to convert the existing Power BI system to SQL views for data integration, providing simplified and secure access to database tables. To create the new setup, DXC applied agile techniques using short, rapid sprints. Adjustments are made as needed after weekly reviews.
With the new Power BI system, SH Netz has a product that is reliable, up to date and provides added value for both employees and partners. Thanks to the introduction of SQL views, the same code can be used for historical data as well as the daily processing of open items. The system displays the daily update in less than 20 minutes, down from 2 to 4 hours. Data can be refreshed daily several times, providing the latest information to users.
"We now have a single system, we no longer have to enter data manually, and the results are always comparable," says Nicole Roth, who is responsible for the successful implementation of the new Power BI system at the company. "Because the process is fully automated, we have data in near real time."
Ready for growth
SH Netz, a subsidiary of HanseWerk AG based in Quickborn, Germany, is part of the E.ON group of companies. The Power BI system is used in the companies commissioned to document the network. As of mid-2023, the companies have documented data for roughly 79 kilometers of supply lines, over 7,000 house connections and roughly 9,000 cable distribution cabinets in the SH Netz plan. In addition, approximately 4,000 charging points and 20,000 feeders have been recorded.
With the Power BI system, SH Netz is well positioned for the enormous growth in data expected over the next few years, especially in the grid connection of charging points for climate-friendly e-mobility and in the area of feed-in electricity.