3. February 2023 By Jonas Schnorrenberg, Stephen Lorenzen and Maximilian Hammes
Are business intelligence maturity models relevant for the energy sector?
In our blog post, we will explain how maturity models help with classification, whether the Interaction Room is an alternative way to apply them and, if it is, whether it can be used as a basis to successfully improve BI in the holistic consultancy process.
‘Data is the raw material of the 21st century’ – Germany’s former Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out how important data is back in 2016. Every day, companies accumulate around 2.5*1018 bytes (2.5 trillion bytes) of data, which is the same amount of storage capacity as 36 million iPads. However, 73 per cent of the data generated is not used. The energy sector in particular is highly conservative and behind the times compared to other sectors when it comes to data and using data due to its former ties to the public sector. These were the results of the German Institute for Federal Real Estate (Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben, BImA) study 2017/18 conducted by BARC and Sopra Steria.
According to the latest municipal utility study 2022 conducted by EY and the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft, BDEW), municipal utilities are aware of the trend towards digitalisation in the energy sector and consider it to be one of the most important topics. Be it data and digital platform (DDP), value-based management or machine learning, there is a wide range of development opportunities to digitalise the energy sector.
Business intelligence (BI) maturity models are used to find out how far along a company is in terms of digitalisation and data use.
Business intelligence – beginner or expert? How maturity models help with classification
BI is a process that uses the collection, integration, analysis and presentation of business data to help managers and decision makers make better decisions and improve business performance. In the energy sector, BI can be used to analyse the utilisation of power plants or to plan maintenance work in advance (value-based maintenance), for example. BI tools can be used to monitor the performance of power plants, compare energy production and demand with historical data and forecasts and improve the efficiency of individual turbines.
Similarly, an energy supplier can use BI to analyse the consumption data of its customers to identify consumption patterns, forecast demand for energy and make targeted offers to customers.
BI maturity models are a framework that helps organisations analyse, assess and improve their current BI capabilities. These capabilities can be developed in different ways, which is why there are five levels of maturity:
- 1. Emerging
- 2. Early
- 3. Established
- 4. Mature
- 5. Advanced/visionary
Currently, companies are classified based on their answers to an extensive catalogue of questions. These questions cover different areas of a company. They range from general questions about the company to detailed questions about organisation, resources, data infrastructure, analysis and management.
Applying BI maturity models in the form of a questionnaire has some disadvantages. A questionnaire may not cover all the aspects relevant to implementing BI, which may affect the accuracy of the results. Furthermore, the questionnaire only provides superficial information and does not offer the necessary depth of analysis to fully assess the company’s BI capabilities. Similarly, the specific requirements and circumstances of a company are not taken into account, which can affect the validity of the results.
The Interaction Room – an interactive alternative for applying BI maturity models
Alternatively, BI maturity models can be applied using the Interaction Room (IR). The IR is a tool-based method that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and communication in IT projects in order to develop a common understanding. The concept is based on five elements:
- 1. Cross-functional stakeholders meet in moderated workshops.
- 2. Communication is controlled by sketches on maps that provide different perspectives.
- 3. Annotations highlight aspects that are critical to success, which are documented and evaluated.
- 4. Project risks are identified on the basis of the data collected.
- 5. The results of the workshop are prepared for agile implementation according to the most valuable product (MVP) principle.
This has the advantage that deeper analyses can be performed and the wider context can be taken into account. In addition, the IR enables teams to come together and interactively share opinions and experiences. This can lead to everyone having a shared perspective and making better decisions. Employees are actively involved in the process and are encouraged to take ownership, which can lead to better results and higher acceptance.
The IR forms the basis on which BI can be successfully improved in the holistic consultancy process
The IR can be integrated into a holistic consultancy process. This is divided into four phases:
- 1. Initialisation
The initialisation phase, in addition to the start of the project in general, is the preparation for the IR. Defining the initial situation is the first step in developing a successful BI solution. It enables the participants to understand a company’s goals and project motivation. A thorough stakeholder analysis must be carried out to understand the requirements of all the stakeholders and ensure they are met. All this information can then be used to draw up a project plan, which forms the basis for the second step.
- 2. Requirements engineering
An IR is conducted with key stakeholders based on the project plan and the stakeholder analysis. This makes it possible to understand the company’s current BI maturity level and identify the areas where improvements are needed. It is important to clearly define and structure the results for the next phase to ensure that the results of the analysis can be implemented.
- 3. Recommended actions
After the current situation has been analysed with the help of the IR and the fields of action have been identified, the next step is to draw up a strategy paper and a roadmap for improving the company’s BI capabilities. These documents should define clear goals and steps to address the current challenges and increase the BI maturity of the company. To ensure that the project stays on track, milestones should be built in to track progress and make adjustments as needed.
- 4. Implementation
After the strategy and roadmap have been developed based on the IR, the next step is to implement the recommended measures. This may include introducing new tools, processes and policies to improve the BI capabilities of the organisation. It is important to be transparent about the results of the implementation to ensure that all stakeholders understand the progress and can confirm that the recommendations have been implemented successfully.
A holistic consultancy process from project initiation to implementation enables the company to fully understand the problem or challenge and identify the best solution for it. By analysing the current situation with the help of IR, the consultancy team can gain a better understanding of the business need and motivation early on and identify the best solution based on this. In addition, the company’s expectations can be better met. A holistic consultancy process allows the company to benefit from the experience and expertise of the consultancy team and receive professional support in implementing the solution. This strengthens the relationship between the company and the consultancy team and promotes cooperation and trust.
Maturity models are used to analyse the current state of a company in terms of BI. Companies have so far been classified based on their answers to an extensive catalogue of questions. This may not cover all relevant aspects and may affect the results. Alternatively, BI maturity models can be applied using the IR. This is a tool-based method that allows deeper analyses to be performed and the wider company context to be taken into account. The IR promotes the interaction and participation of different relevant stakeholder groups. This leads to better results and increases acceptance among employees.
The IR can be an integral part of a holistic consultancy process that is divided into four phases that build on each other: initialisation, needs analysis, recommended actions and implementation.
At adesso, we support our customers in optimising performance monitoring in power plant operations by breaking down data silos and providing information from different data areas in a central location on a data and digital platform (DDP). To do this, we create dynamic and interactive dashboards. This supports the analysis of operating parameters with the aim of improving decision-making in power plant operations, reacting more quickly to problems and generating reports automatically.
This article [in German] gives a brief insight into a project in which we built a central data platform using Microsoft Azure. We are working closely with all stakeholders and believe that this project will help to improve our customers’ BI capabilities and give them a competitive edge.
adesso has trained IR coaches and extensive knowledge in the field of data and analytics. This enables us to support an end-to-end, customer-specific consultancy process from kick-off to implementation.
You will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.