WebFOCUS Helps Western Power Distribution Keep the Lights On

Standardising on a Single BI Platform

Western Power Distribution (WPD) provides the infrastructure that delivers electricity to the South West and South Wales. Managing such a large area with a vast estate of assets including pylons, cables and substations requires the ability to see what is happening at anytime in order to maintain service. This is vital to ensuring that WPD’s customers, the major utilities, were able to deliver the quality of service expected by consumers.

Over the years the company had established a number of different enterprise applications and systems. However, WPD wanted a business intelligence platform that would allow the company to have a single view of the business, based on multiple data sources, and have the flexibility to offer standardized and bespoke reports respectively.

Mark Perry, Applications Manager, Western Power Distribution, said, “When we realised we needed a different approach to our business intelligence, we investigated the expansion of an existing report tool that was providing a good service in one particular area. The tool was part of our financial package and was an OEM of Information Builders’ WebFOCUS system. We decided to deal with Information Builders directly to see what solution they could provide us to overcome the challenges we had. After a brief review of other vendor offerings, we decided that Information Builders had the most suitable solution for our data access and information delivery needs for the company.”

Accessing Multiple Data Sources

One of the major challenges that WPD wanted to overcome by moving to a new BI platform was the ability to access multiple data sources via a single tool. With key data residing in a variety of systems ranging from a mainframe, Oracle 10g database and other enterprise software applications, WPD did not want to continue providing a reporting tool for each application but rather access all the data and present it using a single BI solution.

When Information Builders outlined how they could deploy their iWay Intelligent Adaptors to integrate all the data sources and present it in WebFOCUS, WPD recognized the benefits that Information Builders solutions could deliver the company.

“The ability to integrate the data sources and then present the information through reports using Information Builders integration technology and BI platform was very compelling to us. It simplified our information management process and the plug and play capabilities of iWay meant we could tie the systems together under the BI system quickly and cost effectively. We also knew that any future updates or new systems could be accommodated easily by the suite of integration adaptors from Information Builders.”

Empowering Users, Improving Decision-Making

One the challenges posed by the old system was the lack of flexibility in reporting. One of the key requirements of the BI platform was the ability to deliver standardized reporting to key users across the enterprise from local team leaders through to super users and management. In addition to standard reporting, WPD wanted the ability to empower users to build their own custom reports without IT having to be involved. This was important because previously IT had to develop every report, which was time consuming for everyone. Now IT has put control into the hands of users, freeing themselves to focus on other strategic IT initiatives.

Through WebFOCUS, WPD was able to set up management, finance and operational reports and configure them for the users. Employees could then easily build and develop their own reports to be delivered anytime they needed, as well as create ad hoc reports for any specific requirement. The ability to provide a platform across the business that delivered important, relevant and up-to-date information, whether through standardized or bespoke reports, enables users to make more informed decisions.

“The ability to provide accurate, real-time reporting capabilities, both ad-hoc and application based, is important to the way we manage the business. Providing staff across the company with consistent and insightful information from multiple data sources enables quicker and more efficient decision-making. The added benefit of WebFOCUS is it means users are not reliant on IT to create reports, they are in control, and we manage the environment to ensure it works.”

Staying Ahead

The deployment of WebFOCUS has given WPD the ability to better manage their business through up-to-date information being easily accessed through the BI platform. Moreover, by giving the control to users, the company is enabling key staff to use information to make more informed decisions about running the business. By improving the use of information, delivering it in a format that meets the needs of end-users and reducing the demand on IT, WPD is realizing the benefits of operational business intelligence.