El Paso Electric’s analytics platform was facing challenges as workloads grew. Loading data took over 13 hours, the data warehouse lacked flexibility, and reporting tools had not kept up with recent releases.
El Paso Electric decided to redesign its data warehouse, introduce IBM InfoSphere® DataStage® to streamline its ETL processes, and upgrade to IBM Cognos Analytics to improve its analytics capabilities.
Significantlyfaster ETL processes enable users to access and analyze the latest data
Empowersusers to create their own dashboards, helping IT transition to a supporting role
3 monthsto complete the upgrade thanks to expert support from IBM, Dyonyx and NEC
Business challenge story
Data—the greatest asset
Like most energy and utilities companies, El Paso Electric has a complex set of responsibilities to balance. To provide a reliable power supply to more than 400,000 customers, and at the same time, to keep its finances healthy, it needs to meter and bill each customer appropriately for the electricity they consume.
To manage these responsibilities effectively, El Paso Electric’s customer care and billing (CC&B) team relies heavily on data in its everyday decision-making. In the early 2010s, the company set up its first enterprise-scale business analytics and reporting system, which was used to generate reports around billing, metering, taxes, field activities, and month-end accounting, as well as engineering projects, new connections and asset maintenance.
Over time, as the demand for data grew within the business, this original analytics environment began to show its limitations.
“The biggest challenge was the ETL process —as data volumes increased, it was taking up to 13 hours to load the previous day’s data,” says Luis Villalobos, Project Manager at El Paso Electric. “Instead of starting each day with the latest reports in their inbox, users often had to wait until mid-afternoon before the figures were ready. To support data-driven decision-making, we knew we needed to find a better solution.”
The company also found that its existing data warehouse was difficult to adapt to new business requirements, and its reporting tools were reaching end-of-life. It was time to rethink the entire environment, and build a new analytics solution that could support the company’s current and future needs.
Energizing the business with self-service analytics
The first task to tackle was the ETL process. El Paso Electric worked with its IT support partner Dyonyx and IBM Business Partner NEC to migrate from a legacy ETL tool to IBM InfoSphere DataStage.
“Dyonyx and NEC did a good job with the DataStage project, and they became very knowledgeable about our environment, which helped with the subsequent phases of the project too,” says Luis Villalobos.
Next, El Paso Electric and its partners Dyonyx and NEC started to plan an upgrade for the company’s reporting environment. The original intention was to move from IBM Cognos Business Intelligence 10.1 to version 10.2.2, but a team from IBM Analytics Services proposed a more ambitious approach: migrating directly to the latest version of IBM Cognos Analytics.
“IBM was keen to help us modernize our analytics environment and take advantage of the new capabilities of Cognos Analytics,” says Luis Villalobos. “We saw the potential value of features such as self-service dashboarding and external data integration, so we decided to make the jump. Cognos Analytics has won our users over with its new user interface and more powerful visualization capabilities.”
With support from IBM Analytics Services and its partners, the technical upgrade to IBM Cognos Analytics took just three months, with a further two months for testing, validation and user training. El Paso Electric ported more than 250 reports to the new platform, and validated that they all worked correctly. IBM also provided training videos and resources, which the company used to help more than 180 users get up and running on the new system.
Generating powerful business results
With the successful introduction of IBM InfoSphere DataStage and migration to IBM Cognos Analytics, El Paso Electric now has two of the three main pieces of its new analytics landscape in place. The final step, which is now in progress, is to re-engineer and expand the data warehouse itself.
“With faster ETL, smarter analytics tools and a more flexible data warehouse, we will be able to transform the analytics culture at El Paso Electric,” says Luis Villalobos. “As new users learn how to build reports and dashboards for themselves, they will be able to get the insights they need much more quickly.”
As the company continues to work on its new data warehouse, users are also making good use of Cognos Analytics’ ability to load and analyze external data sources.
Luis Villalobos concludes: “Thanks to IBM Analytics Services and our partners Dyonyx and NEC, the jump to Cognos Analytics was quick and smooth. Rapid ETL means that we can get vital data into the hands of the business sooner, while more powerful visualizations help decision-makers gain insight and make better decisions faster. It all adds up to a platform that will truly meet the needs of our business both now and in the future.”
About El Paso Electric
El Paso Electric is a regional electric utility providing generation, transmission and distribution services to approximately 417,000 retail and wholesale customers in a 10,000 square mile area of the Rio Grande valley in west Texas and southern New Mexico.
Take the next step
IBM Analytics offers one of the world's deepest and broadest analytics platform, domain and industry solutions that deliver new value to businesses, governments and individuals. For more information about how IBM Analytics helps to transform industries and professions with data, visit ibm.com/analytics. Follow us on Twitter at @IBMAnalytics, on our blog at ibmbigdatahub.com and join the conversation #IBMAnalytics.
NEC Corporation of America is one of the world’s leading information and communications technology companies, with more than 117 years’ experience in the industry. As an IBM Premier Business Partner, it offers expertise in business intelligence, data warehousing, information management, and financial performance management solutions.
DYONYX was founded in 1996 by experienced technology and business professionals with the intention of taking their global company experience, proven methods, and business-focused solutions at competitive rates into the small and medium business (SMB) IT support market.