Category Archives: Partners

Utility Executives: Don’t Waste Millions in Operating Costs Due to Bad Asset Data

“Trying to improve the quality of asset data when you don’t have a solid data management infrastructure in place is like trying to save a sinking boat with a bailing bucket,” explained Dean Balog, a senior principal consultant at Noah Consulting, in this webinar, Attention Utility Executives: Don’t Waste Millions in Operating Costs Due to Bad Asset Data

Dean Balog from Noah Consulting explains how to improve the quality of mission-critical asset data for asset management / equipment maintenance and regulatory reporting, such as rate case submissions.

Dean has 15 years of experience in information management in the utilities industry. In this interview, Dean and I discuss the top issues facing utility executives and how to improve the quality of mission-critical asset data for asset management / equipment maintenance and regulatory reporting, such as rate case submissions.

Q: Dean, what are the top issues facing utility executives?
A: The first issue is asset management / equipment maintenance. Knowing where to invest precious dollars is critical. Utility executives are engaged in a constant tug of war between two competing priorities: replacing aging infrastructure and regular maintenance.

Q. How are utility executives determining that balance?
A. You need to start with facts – the real costs and reliability information for each asset in your infrastructure. Without it, you are guessing. Basically, it is a data problem. Utility executives should ask themselves these questions:

  • Do we have the ability to capture and combine cost and reliability information from multiple sources?  Is it granular enough to be useful?
  • Do we know the maintenance costs of eight-year-old breakers versus three-year-old breakers?
  • Do our meters start failing around the average lifespan? For this example, let us say that is five years. Rather than falling uniformly into that average, do 30% of our meters fail in the first year and the rest last eight years? Those three extra years of life can certainly help out the bottom line.

Knowing your data makes all the difference. The right capital investment strategy requires combining performance, reliability, and cost data.

Quotations about data challenges faced by utility companies

Quotations about data challenges faced by utility companies

Q. Why is it difficult for utility executives to understand the real costs and reliability of assets?
A. I know this does not come as a shock, but most companies do not trust their data. Asset data is often inaccurate, inconsistent, and disconnected. Even the most basic data may not be available. For example, manufacture dates on breakers should be filled in, but they are not. If less than 50% of your breakers have manufacture dates, how can you build a preventative maintenance program? You do not even know what to address first!

A traditional approach to solving this data problem is to do a big data cleanup. You clean the data, and then before you know it, errors creep back in, and the trust in the data you have worked so hard to establish is lost.

I like to illustrate the pain of this issue by using the sinking boat analogy. Data cleanup is like bailing out the water collecting in the bottom of the boat. You think you are solving the problem but more water still seeps into the boat. You cannot stop bailing or you will sink. What you need to do is fix the leaks, and then bail out the boat. But, if you do not lift up your head from bailing long enough to see the leaks and make the right investments, you are fighting a losing battle.

Q. What can utility executives do to improve the quality of asset data?
A. First of all, you need to develop a data governance framework. Going back to the analogy, a data governance framework gives you the structure to find the leaks, fix the leaks, and monitor how much of the water has been bailed out. If the water level is still rising, you have not fixed all the leaks. But having a data governance framework is not the be-all and end-all.

You also need to appoint data stewards to be accountable for establishing and maintaining high quality asset data. The job of a data steward would be easy if there was only one system where all asset data resided. But the fact of the matter is that asset data is fragmented – scattered across multiple systems. Data stewards have a huge responsibility and they need to be supported by a solid data management infrastructure to ease the burden of managing business-critical asset information.

Webinar, Attention Utility Executives Bad Asset Data

If you are responsible for asset management / equipment maintenance or regulatory reporting, particularly rate case submissions, check out this webinar.

Master Data Management (MDM) ensures business-critical asset data is consistent everywhere by pulling together data that is scattered across multiple applications. It manages and masters it in a central location on a continuous basis and shares it with any applications that need that data. MDM provides a user interface and workflow for data stewards to manage the tangled web of names and IDs these assets are known by across systems. It also gives utilities a disciplined approach to manage important relationships between the asset data, such as an asset’s performance reliability and its cost.

Q. Any other pressing issues facing utilities?
A. Yes. Another big issue is tightening regulations that consume investment dollars and become key inputs into rate case submissions and defenses. One of the complicating factors is the number of regulations is not only increasing, but the regulators are also requiring faster implementation times than ever before. So, utilities cannot just do what they have done in the past: throw more people at the problem in the short-term and resolve to fix it later by automating it “when things slow down.” That day never comes.

Q. How can utilities deal with these regulatory pressures?
A. Utilities need a new approach to deal with regulations. Start with the assumption that all data is fair game for regulators. All data must be accessible. You need to be able to report on it, not only to comply with regulations, but for competitive advantage. This requires the high quality asset information we talked about earlier, and an analytical application to:

  • Perform what-if analyses for your asset investment program;
  • Develop regulatory compliance or environmental reports quickly, because the hard work (integrating the data within your MDM program) has already been done; and
  • Get access to granular, observed reliability and cost information using your own utility’s data – not benchmark data that is already a couple of years old and highly summarized.

Q. What is your advice for utility company executives?
A. If you are the one responsible for signing off on regulatory reports and you do not look good in an orange jumpsuit, you need to invest in a plan that includes people, process, and technology to support regulatory reporting and asset management / equipment maintenance.

  • People – Data stewards have clear accountability for the quality of asset data.
  • Process – Data governance is your game plan.
  • Technology – A solid data management infrastructure consisting of data integration, data quality, and master data management is your means.

If you are responsible for asset management / equipment maintenance or regulatory reporting, particularly rate case submissions, check out this webinar, Attention Utility Executives: Don’t Waste Millions in Operating Costs Due to Bad Asset Data

 Our panel of utility data experts:

  • Reveal the five toughest business challenges facing utility industry executives;
  • Explain how bad asset data could be costing you millions of dollars in operating costs;
  • Share three best practices for optimizing asset management / equipment maintenance and regulatory reporting with accurate, consistent, and connected asset information; and
  • Show you how to implement these best practices with a demonstration.

 

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Posted in Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Master Data Management, Partners, Utilities & Energy, Vertical | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Surprising Link Between Hurricanes and Strawberry Pop-Tarts: Brought to you by Clean, Consistent and Connected Data

What do you think Wal-Mart’s best-seller is right before a hurricane? If you guessed water like I did, you’d be wrong. According to this New York Times article, “What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers’ Habits” the retailer sells 7X more strawberry Pop-Tarts in Florida right before a hurricane than any other time. Armed with predictive analytics and a solid information management foundation, the team stocks up on strawberry Pop-Tarts to make sure they have enough supply to meet demand.

Andrew Donaher advises IT leaders to ask business  leaders how much bad data is costing them.

Andrew Donaher
advises IT leaders to ask business
leaders how much bad data is costing them.

I learned this fun fact from Andrew Donaher, Director of Information Management Strategy at Groundswell Group, a consulting firm based in western Canada that specializes in information management services. In this interview, Andy and I discuss how IT leaders can increase the value of data to drive business value, explain how some IT leaders are collaborating with business leaders to improve predictive analytics, and share advice about how to talk to business leaders, such as the CFO about investing in an information management strategy.

Q. Andy, what can IT leaders do to increase the value of data to drive business value?

A. Simply put, each business leader in a company needs to focus on achieving their goals. The first step IT leaders should take is to engage with each business leader to understand their long and short-term goals and ask some key questions, such as:

  • What type of information is critical to achieving their goals?
  • Do they have the information they need to make the next decision or take the next best action?
  • Is all the data they need in house? If not, where is it?
  • What challenges are they facing when it comes to their data?
  • How much time are people spending trying to pull together the information they need?
  • How much time are people spending fixing bad data?
  • How much is this costing them?
  • What opportunities exist if they had all the information they need and could trust it?
You need a solid information management strategy to make the shift from looking into the rear-view mirror realizing the potential business value of predictive analytics.

If you want to get the business value you’re expecting by shifting from rear-view mirror style reporting to predictive analytics, you need to use clean, consistent and connected data

Q. How are IT leaders collaborating with business partners to improve predictive analytics?

A. Wal-Mart’s IT team collaborated with the business to improve the forecasting and demand planning process. Once they found out what was important, IT figured out how to gather, store and seamlessly integrate external data like historical weather and future weather forecasts into the process. This enabled the business to get more valuable insights, tailor product selections at particular stores, and generate more revenue.

Q. Why is it difficult for IT leaders to convince business leaders to invest in an information management strategy?

A. In most cases, business leaders don’t see the value in an information management strategy or they haven’t seen value before. Unfortunately this often happens because IT isn’t able to connect the dots between the information management strategy and the outcomes that matter to the business.

Business leaders see value in having control over their business-critical information, being able to access it quickly and to allocate their resources to get any additional information they need. Relinquishing control takes a lot of trust. When IT leaders want to get buy-in from business leaders to invest in an information management strategy they need to be clear about how it will impact business priorities. Data integration, data quality and master data management (MDM) should be built into the budget for predictive or advanced analytics initiatives to ensure the data the business is relying on is clean, consistent and connected.

Q: You liked this quotation from an IT leader at a beer manufacturing company, “We don’t just make beer. We make beer and data. We need to manage our product supply chain and information supply chain equally efficiently.”

A.What I like about that quote is the IT leader was able to connect the dots between the primary revenue generator for the company and the role data plays in improving organizational performance. That’s something that a lot of IT leaders struggle with. IT leaders should always be thinking about what’s the next thing they can do to increase business value with the data they have in house and other data that the company may not yet be tapping into.

Q. According to a recent survey by Gartner and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, 60% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are investing in analytics and improved decision-making as their #1 IT priority. What’s your advice for IT Leaders who need to get buy-in from the CFO to invest in information management?

A. Read your company’s financial statements, especially the Management Discussion and Analysis section. You’ll learn about the company’s direction, what the stakeholders are looking for, and what the CFO needs to deliver. Offer to get your CFO the information s/he needs to make decisions and to deliver. When you talk to a CFO about investing in information management, focus on the two things that matter most:

  1. Risk mitigation: CFOs know that bad decisions based on bad information can negatively impact revenue, expenses and market value. If you have to caveat all your decisions because you can’t trust the information, or it isn’t current, then you have problems. CFOs need to trust their information. They need to feel confident they can use it to make important financial decisions and deliver accurate reports for compliance.
  2. Opportunity: Once you have mitigated the risk and can trust the data, you can take advantage of predictive analytics. Wal-Mart doesn’t just do forecasting and demand planning. They do “demand shaping.” They use accurate, consistent and connected data to plan events and promotions not just to drive inventory turns, but to optimize inventory and the supply chain process. Some companies in the energy market are using accurate, consistent and connected data for predictive asset maintenance. By preventing unplanned maintenance they are saving millions of dollars, protecting revenue streams, and gaining health and safety benefits.

To do either of these things you need a solid information management plan to manage clean, consistent and connected information.  It takes a commitment but the pays offs can be very significant.

Q. What are the top three business requirements when building an information management and integration strategy?
A: In my experience, IT leaders should focus on:

  1. Business value: A solid information management and integration strategy that has a chance of getting funded must be focused on delivering business value. Otherwise, your strategy will lack clarity and won’t drive priorities. If you focus on business value, it will be much easier to gain organizational buy-in. Get that dollar figure before you start anything. Whether it is risk mitigation, time savings, revenue generation or cost savings, you need to calculate that value to the business and get their buy-in.
  2. Trust: When people know they can trust the information they are getting it liberates them to explore new ideas and not have to worry about issues in the data itself.
  3. Flexibility: Flexibility should be banked right into the strategy. Business drivers will evolve and change. You must be able to adapt to change. One of the most neglected, and I would argue most important, parts of a solid strategy is the ability to make continuous small improvements that may require more effort than a typical maintenance event, but don’t create long delays. This will be very much appreciated by the business. We work with our clients to ensure that this is addressed.
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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, Data Integration, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Master Data Management, Partners, Retail | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Informatica Educates Oracle OpenWorld 2012 Attendees On How To Balance The Big Data Balancing Act

Thousands of Oracle OpenWorld 2012 attendees visited the Informatica booth to learn how to leverage their combined investments in Oracle and Informatica technology.  Informatica delivered over 40 presentations on topics that ranged from cloud, to data security to smart partitioning. Key Informatica executives and experts, from product engineering and product management, spoke with hundreds of users on topics and answered questions on how Informatica can help them improve Oracle application performance, lower risk and costs, and reduce project timelines. (more…)

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Posted in Application ILM, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Data Migration, Data Privacy, Data Quality, data replication, Master Data Management, Partners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burning Man for the Cloud Crowd – #DF12 is Coming!

The 10th annual salesforce.com user conference is just around the corner. Ok, calling Dreamforce a user conference just doesn’t feel right to me. If you haven’t experienced it, I guess you could say it’s like Burning Man for the Cloud Crowd. Dreamforce is billed as the “The Cloud Computing Event of the Year.” In their words…“it’s social,” “it’s inspring,” “it’s innovative,” “it’s money,” “it’s breakthrough,” and “it’s red hot.” A lot of hype indeed, but when Marc Benioff is on his game the event always delivers.

If you’re planning on attending the 10th anniversary of Dreamforce in San Francisco on September 18th, I thought I’d share a few useful resources as well as point you to some of the activities the Informatica team has planned for the conference. If you haven’t registered yet, be sure to use our partner promo code for a discount: ECMINFMTCA. There are also free keynote passes available. (more…)

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Posted in Cloud Computing, Informatica Events, News & Announcements, PaaS, Partners, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s All About Connecting the Dots

Before the kids got out of class for the summer, my daughter’s fourth grade class was learning about product marketing.  Her teacher is a good friend of ours and she knows I work with Informatica’s product marketing teams a great deal, so she asked, or I think it was closer to volunteered me to come into the class and talk a little about marketing concepts.

I have taken plenty of marketing classes in college, and have worked closely with marketing teams throughout my career; however, I’m not really qualified to talk marketing, but I mean they are fourth graders, how hard could it be right?

(more…)

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Posted in data replication, Data Warehousing, Partners, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Analytics are Like Cincinnati Chili

Ever been to Cincinnati? They have amazing chili there. Five-way chili it’s called. They stack toppings like cheese, onions, sour cream, etc. to get one, two, up to four way chili. Then chili with all the fixings served on a bed of spaghetti noodles is five-way chili. It is quite an experience and if you go all in for the five-way, it’s quite a meal. I usually take my chili three-way with cheese and onions. And at the risk of drawing the ire of Cincinnatians everywhere, I do not eat my chili on a bed of spaghetti noodles. Too much food, difficult to eat, impractical. So, how is analytics like chili? I’m going to play safe and say that analytics is not really like chili. But you can have it many different ways—at least five ways. So here I’ll outline just three ways – just how I like my chili – that Informatica OEM partners deliver analytics that embed Informatica data integration technology. (more…)

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Posted in Cloud Computing, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customers, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, IaaS, Partners, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Applications with Muscle–The Informatica OEM Program

Growing up I had an unhealthy obsession with classic American muscle cars. I was primarily a Mopar man, but really anything with enough steel, 300 or more horsepower, and a flashy paint job would do. I spent an altogether ridiculous amount of my youth studying the details of internal combustion engines, transmissions, carburetor cfm charts, gear and compression ratios, fluids’ viscosity and myriad other intricacies to prepare me for weekends under the hood of some monster from Detroit. Every night, you could find me devouring catalogues with page upon page of parts lists with their specifications and prices. One thing that always struck me was how many original parts used in these masterpieces of engineering were designed, developed, and delivered by companies whose badge was not on the hood of the car. OEM parts these were called. Why would these carmakers rely upon relatively unknown third parties to manufacture a huge percentage of the parts used in the cars? (more…)

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Posted in B2B, Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud Computing, Customers, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, IaaS, PaaS, Partners, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Introducing Informatica Cloud’s Integration Platform as a Service

In 2006, Informatica announced a strategic roadmap for cloud data integration, which outlined three phases:

  1. Cloud Connectivity
  2. Cloud Integration Services
  3. Cloud Integration Platform

This week we announced Informatica Cloud Spring 2012, which is primarily focused on phase three – evolving to an integration platform as a service. (more…)

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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Cloud Computing, Marketplace, News & Announcements, PaaS, Partners, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Informatica Cloud Recognized by #Salesforce Customers for Data Integration

I’m pleased to announce that Informatica Cloud has once again been honored by salesforce.com customers with the AppExchange Best of ‘11 Award for Integration. Based entirely on user reviews for the Informatica Cloud listing on AppExchange, it’s clear that when it comes to Salesforce CRM and Force.com data integration requirements, Informatica Cloud has become the clear choice for salesforce.com customers. This is the  fourth year in a row that Informatica Cloud has achieved this honor, and our free Data Loader Service continues to be the all-time most popular application on the AppExchange. (more…)

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Posted in Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, Data Migration, Data Synchronization, News & Announcements, PaaS, Partners, Real-Time, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social, Mobile, Cloud, Big Data and … Agile BI

I just came back from MicroStrategy World. There were many conversations about social, mobile, cloud and big data. There was strong interest in cloud, clear adoption of mobile, and some big data adoption. eHarmony had a great presentation about how they handle big data with Informatica, and how they’re starting to use Hadoop with Informatica HParser running on Hadoop for processing JSON.

But that wasn’t the number one conversation.  The one topic that everyone was interested in – and I talked to nearly 100 customers and partners over four days – was creating new reports faster, or Agile BI(more…)

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Posted in Big Data, Business/IT Collaboration, Data Integration Platform, Data Services, Data Warehousing, Informatica 9.1, Partners, Profiling, Real-Time, Vertical | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment