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Delta-EE takes data management into the cloud to add value to new energy clients

The background

Working at the leading edge of the new energy industry, Delta-EE provides research, analysis and advice to energy suppliers, energy networks operators and many other organisations with an interest in the sector.

Strategically expert and tactically astute, Delta-EE helps clients manage and exploit the opportunities in the market as it transitions to sustainable energy sources.

The Challenge

nformation is gold for Delta-EE. The company gathers data from multiple sources which its experts collate and interpret for their clients. It used to be stored in Excel spreadsheets, organised by topic. This siloed approach meant there was no bird’s-eye view of the data, and it couldn’t be searched to find connections that exist between different subject areas.

Delta-EE directors knew there was hidden potential in the data waiting to be unleashed. What could they do? The answer was to introduce more flexible and versatile data management capabilities. They decided to create a single repository for all the data, as a first step towards a wider digital transformation that would support new ways of working.

The end goal was clear, but not how to get there. With limited IT resources in-house, Delta-EE asked Infinity Works to help. The technical brief was wide open, the timing less so. Infinity Works was asked to recommend a solution that was easy to use and manage, and to build a prototype in just eight weeks.

The Work

Infinity Works realised from day one that the project involved more than simply shifting data to another place. The first step was to learn about the business and how Delta-EE experts used the information they collected. Then the team explained what had to be done before any new solution could operate effectively.

It was a daunting prospect. Delta-EE had to cleanse the data in 28 massive files to take out errors and inconsistencies. Then the company had to restructure all the data into a standardised format so it could be successfully combined.

Infinity Works advised that this was the only way to give users a single view of all the data sets, making it possible to extract new information and gain different perspectives for clients. The task is still underway, led by Delta EE and supported by Infinity Works on an ad hoc basis.

To produce a working prototype, however, Infinity Works had to sidestep the long-term data consolidation activity. Having chosen Snowflake as the new data platform for Delta-EE, the team set about extracting the necessary elements from the Excel files to create a solution with all the relevant capabilities. They used AWS services to convert the Excel data into a format compatible with Snowflake and added metadata to enable us to model the data dynamically.

Infinity Works also structured the data to work with the Metabase business intelligence tool. It was chosen to give subject matter experts at Delta-EE better insights than before and more powerful charts and other visual presentation options. At this stage, Infinity Works created a pilot system in Snowflake which Delta-EE began testing at once.

The team took every opportunity to guide Delta-EE on its journey, advising on a range of topics to help the people who use the data every day as well as the executives who plot the company’s strategic direction.

The results

The prototype, which Delta-EE is now using, has proved the viability of the Infinity Works design and approach. A fully-fledged solution will be built when all the data is ready for housing in one place. Since Snowflake runs on AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, there’s no pressure to commit to one cloud service. Meanwhile, Delta-EE has a future-proof data platform that it can manage cost-effectively in-house.

Knowledge transfer featured heavily in the project. Before Delta-EE started data cleansing, Infinity Works helped the company to clarify and redefine its business processes to better understand the underlying data requirements. Delta-EE is moving towards a new way of thinking about its data, with a view to capitalising fully on the wealth of information it has accumulated.

An unexpected bonus of the data cleansing was getting individuals to step back from their own material, make objective judgements about it, and find links between the data sets. Specialists gained a broader perspective and a fresh appreciation of each other’s domains. Everyone in Delta-EE now understands where the company is going, how it will get there, and how new possibilities will enrich their own work and the business as a whole.

Further ahead, Delta-EE expects efficiency to improve greatly. All its data will be in one place to query and manipulate through an intuitive interface. Subject matter experts and analysts will be able to offer even better value to customers, helping to strengthen existing relationships and expand the client base.

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