Case: Unlock the information stored in energy meters

[Partnerinfo] Companies are forced to control and reduce their energy consumptions. The solution of Elster EnergyICT unlocks the information stored in energy meters to deliver business insight and intelligence.

Elster EnergyICT has more than twenty years’ experience in the fast-changing international energy market. Rising energy costs, regulatory obligations, carbon commitments, and social and environmental responsibilities are forcing companies to control and reduce their energy consumptions.

The solution of Elster EnergyICT unlocks the information stored in energy meters to deliver business insight and intelligence. Headquartered in Belgium, this company provides innovative, utility grade energy intelligence management systems that give energy managers and store managers insight into energy consumption, trends and exceptions of all assets across an entire store or building portfolio.

Spencer Rigler, Vice-President Energy Management: ‘Our prime customers are major energy consumer sites such as commercial companies (including the top 3 in retail), energy service companies and the US military. We have more than 20,000 locations to maintain and over one million meter points. We are present in Europe, USA, Mexico, China, Australia and growing in Asia and central and eastern Europe.’

Large reporting as a challenge

‘With our energy intelligence solution we help our customers to deal with the large amount of energy meter information, access estate-wide reports, dashboards and pinpoint badly performing regions and stores faster’, explains Kristof Lamont, product manager at Elster EnergyICT. ‘In our solution, large estate reporting proved to be a challenge.

Every branch, for example, has 30-40 meters registering every 15 minutes the energy consumption of all utilities like water, electricity and gas. This means 96 readings per meter a day and approximately 3,000 meter readings per day per shop. On a yearly basis for a 1,000 store retailer this equates to over a billion meter readings.’

The analysis of one store and its meters generated no problem. Kristof recounts: ‘Current business decisions, however, do not ask for a daily report from one meter, but for an analysis of several regions and stores over the last few weeks, months or even years. Furthermore, relevant comparisons of 10-20 stores are needed.

These days, to make accurate business decisions, the information should be available fast and, preferably, in near real time. It was clear that we needed to enhance and optimise the reporting part of our solution to stay competitive and to solve the needs of our customers.’ A second development point was the user-friendliness of our report creation solution. “There was a direct need for a more, intuitive and modern-looking report creation interface to enhance our total software offering.”

External partner

After a cost-benefit analysis, Elster EnergyICT opted for an external partner as the business-wise more interesting solution. Spencer explains: ‘We compared various suppliers. Several arguments convinced us that MicroStrategy was the right partner. MicroStrategy is a leading, independent and innovative Business Intelligence Vendor.

It embedded current needs and could lay the foundation for future scalability. Its flexible pricing terms were a plus point.’ Kristof adds: ‘It enabled high performance reporting. There was no limit on the number of datasets it could report on. The technology match with our own system made a rapid ‘time to market’ possible as well. The MicroStrategy analytics platform 9.4 was easy to integrate into our Enacto solution. The innovative, visually attractive and relevant dashboards fitted our needs as well.

Finally, the vision and platform for mobile applications were a major argument to choose MicroStrategy.’ Spencer concludes: ‘All these aspects are critical to our product offering and ensure our competiveness. And, more importantly, it helps our customers get the most value out of the data collected and, ultimately, maximize the energy cost savings and improve their bottom line.’

Three-tier integrated implementation

MicroStrategy analytics are used in the back-end of the solution in three ways: self-service analytics, context-aware reporting and mobile. Kristof: ‘With self-service analytics—or what we call the traditional reporting way—customers can easily create their own reports. Multiple selections from data from all utilities can be combined and analyzed with a single click. This multidimensional information helps our customers solve complex business problems.’

‘The second way is how MicroStrategy analytics provides the solution with a more proactive approach—what we call context-aware reporting. The system thinks along with the customer. Depending on what assets or stores the customer is currently viewing, our system will suggest the most relevant analytics reports for that store or asset to help his analysis. This saves the customer a lot of time in creating or browsing through a large set of reports.

Finally, the MicroStrategy solution makes reports available on mobile devices. The store manager, for example, can consult his energy reports and actions from his tablet.’

The future

After the successful implementation, Elster EnergyICT is now looking for new challenges. ‘We’re considering developing specific apps for different target user groups to provide them anywhere, any time, with relevant data. For example, an app for the specific energy information needs of the energy manager. The store manager could use an app on how to keep educating his staff via energy-saving tips like closing the fridge and turning off the lights.

The growing need for analytics with increasing data volume and a diversity of data sources is now well integrated into our system. Our customers have instant access to both estate- and meter-level data. The partnership with MicroStrategy enabled us to retain our spot amongst the world’s top energy management solution providers.’

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