Energy marketers can improve company performance with Business Intelligence (BI) software that collects and analyzes data to deliver insights that support sound decision making, according to ADD Systems’ leading BI executive.
Rich Hathaway, Director of Business Intelligence Solutions at ADD Systems, told Oil & Energy that robust BI software such as ADD Systems’ Atlas Reporting® can leverage the data that marketers collect to help them understand business conditions and make improvements to their operations.
Hathaway has 20 years of BI experience and is the leading force behind Atlas Reporting, which is a dedicated BI solution that works hand-in-hand with ADD Systems’ ADD Energy E3® enterprise software for energy marketers and the ADD eStore® software for convenience stores.
“BI means different things to different people,” Hathaway noted. “If you filter it down, it is a process that provides the ability to take all the data in your computer systems and turn it into information that can be delivered in a timely and accurate manner to decision makers. It helps them understand what is happening so they can see how current company performance compares to key performance indicators and the goals for the business and decide what they need to do.”
Atlas includes a data warehouse and a database that is specifically designed to extract information in the form of reports. “Most databases are designed to put information in the system, and that design does not lend itself to getting information out. That makes it hard for users to create reports or get the information they need, or it can take a long time,” Hathaway explained.
“Atlas has a data warehouse that is designed for delivery. It loads data from a source system such as ADD Energy E3 and can also grab information from a budget or payroll system. There is an ETL process (extract, transform and load) that pulls data and puts it in a data warehouse. The other piece is data delivery. We have a Web-based browser interface so you can schedule and run reports whenever needed and deliver them on a network drive or in an e-mail.” Reports can be delivered in various formats, including XML, CSV, PDF, Excel, MHTML, TIFF and Word.
One area where energy companies can leverage BI is in improving delivery performance. “Driver productivity is very important to measure,” he said. “Atlas Reporting enables a company to combine all data on deliveries including tank location, tank size, forecasting method and more to see how drivers are performing. Deciding which drivers need extra attention and training is simple when the data is combined with BI,” he added.
Atlas can also help companies gain insight into their hedging and program sales by easily comparing their wholesale contracts and their customers’ pre-buys. This helps them see if they have hedged enough to handle the volume. “You can compare across different groups and see what your margins are on different products,” Hathaway said. “You can look at which accounts are profitable for you and which ones you are not making money on.
“Most managers have goals for the business, and they use different efficiency metrics. To have that information coming in accurately and on a timely basis allows you to see how you are performing every day, and you can make decisions on a day-to-day basis, not a month in arrears.”
As performance pressure increases, BI becomes more crucial. “The bottom line is that if you don’t have this information you’re flying blind and hoping it will work out,” Hathaway said. “You have to be able to turn data into information you can use to solve problems. BI provides visibility that allows you to manage risks. This is important for any business, but especially energy marketing where so many things are impacting us. You need to be able to react.”
ADD Systems is continuously improving Atlas Reporting, which is available as server-based software or in the cloud. “We’re constantly making improvements to the user interface, making it easier to interact and create reports,” Hathaway said. To learn more about Atlas Reporting visit www.addsys.com.