Business challenge

To optimize revenue and gas-income profits for shareholders, energy wholesaler GasTerra wanted more detailed, faster insight into natural gas prices, supply levels, and changing market conditions.

Transformation

GasTerra uses business intelligence solutions to integrate, cleanse and analyze data from sources including price indexes and forecasts, enabling rapid, accurate reporting for key stakeholders.

Results

25% faster

data processing helps users gain deep insights into market conditions

Drives

better decision-making by empowering users with self-service analytics

Enhances

the IT team’s productivity, by freeing them from report preparation

Business challenge story

Meeting mounting demand

GasTerra, a leading natural gas trading house based in the Netherlands, forms a vital link in the energy supply chain. The company buys and sells resources to the energy providers who keep the lights and heating on in people’s homes, and to the corporations who drive economic growth.

Martijn Vegter, IT Operations Manager at GasTerra, explains: “We are more than just a typical energy wholesaler. Natural gas fulfills almost half of the energy requirements of the Netherlands, and we have industry partners who have relied on our services for half a century. This makes it imperative that our operational processes work as smoothly as possible, and that we build strong, meaningful relationships with stakeholders.”

Analytics and reporting sit at the heart of GasTerra’s day-to-day operations, enabling its traders and account managers to monitor the value of its long- and short-term contracts, and to keep shareholders regularly informed about business performance. The company must factor many different data points into its reports, including price indexes, market forecasts, geopolitical events and future weather conditions.

“We have to crunch huge quantities of data on a regular basis, so there is lots of pressure on our business intelligence infrastructure,” adds Martijn Vegter. “To ensure we stay agile and are ready to thrive in tomorrow’s energy market, we are always looking to implement the most advanced technology, and to add new capabilities to support our users.”

Working with IBM is helping us to fulfill our critical role at the heart of the energy supply chain in the Netherlands and beyond.

—Martijn Vegter, IT Operations Manager, GasTerra

Transformation story

Deploying next-generation analytics tools

To build smarter, more efficient reporting processes, GasTerra engaged IBM for a comprehensive assessment of its analytics landscape. Following the consultation, GasTerra chose to work with IBM Business Partner Comparex, and to deploy IBM Analytics solutions on-premise.

Martijn Vegter elaborates: “We looked for the solutions that would align best with our business goals. IBM Analytics tools and infrastructure has always impressed us. In particular, we are long-term users of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, and we were excited to explore the new capabilities available in Cognos Analytics. IBM offered us a very attractive package covering both reporting and analytics functions, so it was a natural decision to extend our valuable partnership.”

GasTerra uses IBM® PureData® System for Analytics to support its critical data warehouse, and to perform high-speed analysis of energy market data. If GasTerra encounters any issues with its infrastructure, it can call on 24/7 support from IBM to ensure exceptional business continuity. The company also uses IBM InfoSphere® DataStage® for extract, transform and load (ETL) jobs, drawing and cleansing data from multiple external sources into its data warehouse.

GasTerra also implemented updates to IBM Cognos® Analytics, helping users across the company to build reports monitoring natural gas supply and the value of its contracts.

IBM Business Partner Comparex guided GasTerra through the purchasing process, as Martijn Vegter explains: “We are a relatively small company, with only 180 employees, so we rely on the support of our partners. Comparex offered expertise into how licensing structures work, helping us to understand what can be a very complex subject. Their in-depth knowledge of IBM solutions was invaluable and contributed to a very smooth implementation process.”

GasTerra is also utilizing IBM CPLEX® Optimization Studio to build sophisticated calculation models, helping it to gain deep insight into the supply of natural gas and ensure its contracts reflect market conditions.

Martijn Vegter adds: “Working with IBM continues to be a great experience. We love the fact they are always investing in new analytics solutions. They are always keen to maintain close contact with us and to build a genuine technology partnership. They took the time to understand our problem, and delivered solutions to generate lasting business value. Our main contact at IBM possesses exceptional knowledge of our systems, and we’re looking forward to the next steps of our journey working together.”

With our IBM Analytics landscape, we expect to be able to process data 25 percent faster than previously—a great result. Armed with insights, key decision-makers are better-equipped to guide the business to success.

—Martijn Vegter, IT Operations Manager, GasTerra

Results story

Gaining faster insights

Supported by IBM and Comparex, GasTerra is optimizing its business intelligence processes, helping it to gain faster insight into the energy market, sharpen its competitive edge, and keep stakeholders informed about performance.

Martijn Vegter comments: “With our IBM Analytics landscape, we expect to be able to process data 25 percent faster than previously—a great result. Our users can run analytics and reporting jobs quicker and factor in many different datasets, ensuring we have highly accurate reports tracking business performance for our shareholders and leadership team. Armed with these insights, key decision-makers are better-equipped to guide the business to success. And with the time saved, we can focus on other value-add tasks.”

The self-service capabilities of Cognos Analytics are also enabling more users at GasTerra to mine data and run their own queries, rather than relying on the IT team for reports.

Martijn Vegter explains: “Empowering more of our business users to complete their own daily analytics jobs was an important aim for the project, and the feedback so far has been excellent. Previously, the burden on the IT team to create reports could be heavy, and create a bottleneck. With self-service reporting, it is a win-win situation: our users have the capabilities they wanted, and the IT team is no longer under so much pressure.”

GasTerra is now working with IBM to find even more ways to make the most of its technology investments. IBM is providing use cases, and documentation on best practices to help GasTerra to drive adoption across the business.

In particular, GasTerra plans to add dashboards to its Cognos Analytics solution, to help users to visualize and track key data points. “We currently mainly rely on Excel to create dashboards, but will possibly replace this approach with the more sophisticated, self-service dashboards of Cognos Analytics,” says Martijn Vegter. “We are looking forward to the new visualizations in Cognos Analytics, and we believe they will help our users unlock a wealth of new insights.”

He concludes: “Our customers rely on us to ensure the flow of natural gas supplies, to keep industry driving forward and people’s homes warm and well-lit on the dark winter nights. Working with IBM is helping us to fulfill our critical role at the heart of the energy supply chain in the Netherlands and beyond.”

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About GasTerra

GasTerra is a leading gas trading house based in the Netherlands. Founded in 2005 following the split of Gasunie, the company purchases natural gas from domestic and foreign producers, then sells to a customer base that includes energy providers and companies from across industry. Headquartered in Groningen, GasTerra is half-owned by the Dutch state, and half-owned by the oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. In 2016, the company reported turnover of EUR 9.9 billion (~USD 11.75 billion).

Solution components

  • Cognos Analytics
  • ILOG CPLEX Optimization Studio
  • InfoSphere DataStage
  • PureData System for Analytics (powered by Netezza technology)
  • PureData for Analytics N3001-002

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM Cloud solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/cloud

Comparex is a leading IT service provider, with operations in 36 countries worldwide. The company is an IBM Premier Business Partner with over 300 different IBM product certifications, including business analytics, collaboration and security solutions, Power Systems and storage. For more information, please visit: comparex-group.com

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