SSGC mitigates business risk through better insight into supply and demand

Published on 25-Apr-2012

"The IBM analytics solution greatly improves our ability to define and monitor business KPIs, and it brings much greater transparency to reporting. We now have a single version of the truth, and a single comprehensive report for each topic, instead of the multiple overlapping reports that we previously had, all giving a slightly different picture." - Irfan Zafar, Chief Technology Innovation Officer and Senior General Manager of Customer Services, Sui Southern Gas Company Limited

Customer:
Sui Southern Gas Company Limited

Industry:
Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
Pakistan

Solution:
Technical Computing, BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, BA - Performance Management, Big Data & Analytics, Big Data & Analytics: Operations/Fraud/Threats, Business Integration, Information Integration, Smarter Computing, Information Infrastructure

IBM Business Partner:
InfoTech Private Limited

Overview

Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) is Pakistan’s leading natural gas provider, with a transmission pipeline network more than 3,220 km long and a distribution network that spans more than 1,200 towns in the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces. The company has more than 2.2 million industrial, commercial and domestic customers and supplies approximately 390 million cubic feet of natural gas each year. SSGC also owns and operates Pakistan’s only gas meter manufacturing facility, with annual production capacity of more than 750,000 meters.

Business need:
Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) in Pakistan wanted to improve its ability to track and predict changing patterns of supply and demand for natural gas to its 2.2 million customers, and to reduce the loss of gas through leakages and theft. Without a single comprehensive source of reliable data or a consistent set of analytical tools, the company was expending considerable time and effort on manual reporting that offered limited value to business managers

Solution:
Working with IBM and its Business Partner InfoTech Private Limited, SSGC deployed an innovative business analytics solution, running on an IBM® POWER7® processor-based IBM Smart Analytics System 7700 with IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence and IBM Infosphere Warehouse® software, leveraging ESRI’s GIS system along with Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle’s Customer Care and Billing software as data sources. The solution overlays digital maps with real-time operational and financial data, enabling SSGC to visualize and analyze data in a real-world context.

Benefits:
User-driven reporting with real-time data updates has replaced the laborious, time-consuming creation of static reports. Different views and dashboards are provided to each different type of information consumer within SSGC. With a single trusted version of information, and the ability to geo-reference data, SSGC has a scalable integration platform to handle the variety of data and dramatically improve the speed and clarity of its insight into supply and demand issues.

Case Study

Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) is Pakistan’s leading natural gas provider, with a transmission pipeline network more than 3,220 km long and a distribution network that spans more than 1,200 towns in the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces. The company has more than 2.2 million industrial, commercial and domestic customers and supplies approximately 390 million cubic feet of natural gas each year. SSGC also owns and operates Pakistan’s only gas meter manufacturing facility, with annual production capacity of more than 750,000 meters.

Keeping an eye on operations

To manage its transmission and distribution networks, SSGC had more than 5,000 paper maps, and was steadily adding new maps as the scope of its operations grew. The day-to-day handling, storage and maintenance of these maps were a significant drain on resources. More important, the information they contained was outdated almost as soon as they were created, and there was no consistent scale or format for the maps. Reconciling operational data with mapping data to get a clear picture of supply and demand issues was practically impossible: not only were the maps inconsistent and difficult to use, but also there was no single source of reliable data.

SSGC wanted to be able to visualize data by geographic location, to improve its efficiency in matching supply and demand, and to help plan its ongoing corporate expansion. The company also wanted better visibility of gas leakages and unaccounted-for gas (UFG), so that it could close the gap between the value of gas delivered to the network and the value of the revenues generated from its sale.

“As part of our GIS project, we needed a single source of the truth for business analytics,” explains Irfan Zafar, Chief Technology Innovation Officer and Senior General Manager of Customer Services, Sui Southern Gas Company Limited. “We had some analytics tools already, but they were limited in scope, and did not span the full spectrum of our information needs. Metrics were not always defined consistently across different systems, and it was difficult to compare data from different sources. In addition to improving the quality and consistency of the underlying data, we wanted to deliver information faster, to introduce user-driven reporting, on demand.”

Choosing IBM Smart Analytics

SSGC worked with IBM and IBM Business Partner InfoTech Private Limited to create an business analytics warehouse solution based on the IBM Smart Analytics System 7700 (ISAS 7700). The first stage of the project was the creation of a consolidated data warehouse, designed to gather data from three key sources: ESRI’s ArcGIS, Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Customer Care & Billing. In the second stage, the combined project team implemented Infosphere DataStage to enable seamless integration with each of these sources with Cognos Business Intelligence Reports and Dashboards for routine analysis and reporting.

Kashif Qadeer, Deputy General Manager (Business Systems), Sui Southern Gas Company Limited, comments, “Our key selection criteria for the data warehouse and the analytics parts of the solution included the performance and scalability of the technology, the quality of ETL [extract, transform, load] tools, and the quality of the user interface. The IBM solution scored highly in all areas, and we particularly appreciated the user-friendliness of the Cognos interfaces. We also found that the availability of skilled personnel in Pakistan was much better with IBM than with Teradata or Oracle, and IBM’s commercial offer was also much more compelling.”

The key components of the data warehouse are IBM InfoSphere® Warehouse, IBM InfoSphere Business Glossary and IBM InfoSphere DataStage®. The IBM Smart Analytics System 7700 deployed by SSGC is a pre-integrated stack of data warehouse management software and analytics tools, with an IBM System Storage® DS5300 array and an IBM Power® 740 server with IBM POWER7 processors. Tuned to deliver optimal performance and flexibility for business analytics, the IBM solution was also fast and easy to deploy, enabling SSGC to focus on business issues rather than on integration.

“Both IBM and InfoTech were very accommodating during the deployment regarding change requests and scope variations,” says Irfan Zafar. “This helped to ensure a very smooth rollout with minimal disruption to the business. The combination of IBM analytics software and the IBM Power 740 server enables us to deliver business reporting faster, with low total cost of ownership.”

Gaining a comprehensive view

The combined GIS and analytics solution provides a web portal that delivers detailed, multi-layered digital maps overlaid with business and customer information for improved decision-making. Users can generate up-to-date versions of pre-built reports tailored to meet the needs of different job functions and management levels. Executive dashboards provide at-a-glance views of performance, and managers can use the intuitive drag-and-drop interface of IBM Cognos Report Studio to create their own tailored reports.

There are two main application groups for business intelligence and analytics at SSGC: Customer Care and Billing, and ERP. The solution is already fully rolled out to the first group, which will represent 90 percent of the eventual total user base. SSGC is now integrating data from its ERP system into the combined GIS and analytics solution. When this part of the project is complete, SSGC will be able to consolidate information on gas sales (managed in the Customer Care and Billing environment) with information on gas purchases (managed in the ERP environment) in real time. This new insight will help improve pricing efficiency and maximize profitability.

The GIS system includes full information on SSGC’s pipeline assets, with details such as the year each pipe was laid, and the materials used in its construction. This information is cross-referenced to information on the local population, supporting improved risk analysis around the likelihood gas pilferage. The GPS coordinates for every customer are stored in the system and cross-referenced to meter readers, enabling SSGC to ensure that field operatives are completing this work correctly.

The transmission network has a full SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) solution that is linked into the GIS, so that SSGC can monitor the health of components and see incidents on the map in real time. The distribution network is not controlled in the same way, though it does include some gas-leak detectors that deliver real-time alerts into the GIS.

Having built up internal skills with help from IBM and InfoTech, SSGC is now actively looking to offer similar GIS and analytics solutions to external clients, both in its own industry and beyond.

Benefiting from enhanced reporting

The IBM solution gives SSGC faster, more accurate and more comprehensive reporting and analytical capabilities, helping the company to identify hot spots for leaks and pilferage, to visualize supply and demand issues, and to undertake what-if analyses to plan more efficient processes. The creation of a data warehouse to store operational data for analysis and reporting has given SSGC a single version of the truth, improving the consistency and reliability of reporting. Thanks to the data warehouse, SSGC can also now easily leverage information from a wide variety of sources, providing a richer view of operational performance across multiple different dimensions and a better understanding of customer behavior.

In the past, all reporting was based on month-end data - the billing cycle was, and continues to be, monthly. More than 1,000 standard reports on financial, volumetric and taxation data were run each month, and were typically available approximately 15 days into the following month. It would then take time for the reports to be manipulated and to reach the decision-makers - in some cases, managers were not receiving actionable information until the end of the following month, severely impacting the responsiveness of the business. Equally, the delay between taking an action and seeing the outcome made it difficult and risky to test new ideas.

Kashif Qadeer comments, “In many cases, we were using Excel scripts to pull data in from multiple operational systems - that alone could take up to 48 hours. You would need to work on the report for a couple of days to validate the data. With IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, reporting is essentially instantaneous, so there’s no need to wait until the month-end - or longer - to get the latest figures. There’s also no effort required, and the business is no longer reliant on the IT function to get the reporting done.”

Previously, it might have taken up to a week for the IT function to create a new report. Now, business managers can use Cognos Report Studio to build their own reports in minutes. They are also now self-sufficient - the only time the IT function needs to get involved is when the business wants to add a new data source (and even this is now just a one-off ETL exercise).

“The IBM solution has made a huge difference to the way we do business,” says Kashif Qadeer. “Business users now have the power to run forecasts, to test new ideas, and to see the impact of changes almost immediately. They also spend far less time manually creating and tweaking reports, so they can work much more productively.”

Irfan Zafar comments, “The IBM analytics solution greatly improves our ability to define and monitor business KPIs, and it brings much greater transparency to reporting. We now have a single version of the truth, and a single comprehensive report for each topic, instead of the multiple overlapping reports that we previously had, all giving a slightly different picture. Reports are automatically and instantly refreshed with the latest data, so the business can actually see the impact of any changes it makes within days, rather than having to wait a month for the next report to appear.”

For more information

Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/smartercomputing

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 740 Express, Power Systems, Storage, Storage: DS5300

Software:
AIX, IBM Smart Analytics System 7700, Cognos TM1, InfoSphere Warehouse, Cognos Business Intelligence, Cognos 8 Business Intelligence Dashboarding, InfoSphere Warehouse Enterprise Edition, InfoSphere DataStage, InfoSphere QualityStage, InfoSphere Metadata Workbench, InfoSphere Change Data Capture, InfoSphere Business Glossary

Operating system:
AIX

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America April 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Cognos, DataStage, DB2, GPFS, InfoSphere Power, POWER7, Power Systems, System Storage and TM1 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.