sonnen manufactures smart energy storage systems for photovoltaic systems. The intelligent network connection of thousands of battery-buffered photovoltaic systems enables additional service models, which in turn make it possible for sonnen to act as stand-alone energy provider. And, additionally, coupling of batteries at the client’s site creates a virtual power plant which is able to contribute significantly to the stability of power grids by way of compensating for overproduction and underproduction of conventional power plants.
“In such a dynamically growing high-tech company as ours, there is a great variety of tasks,” explains Simone Thien, Senior Manager Business Steering at sonnen. “Hence, in 2018 we looked for a powerful BI tool that was user-friendly, didn't require programming and was therefore suitable for self-service reporting. An additional requirement was an easy connection to Salesforce, our central CRM tool.” The company then began an evaluation of different marketable solutions. Management defined a number of use cases as crucial criteria of suitability, which the new tool would have to solve exceptionally well.
“For us, monitoring of electricity meters was one of the most important use cases,” reports Simone Thien. “All our clients’ installations have electricity meters which continuously measure data regarding battery charge, electricity generation, and charge and discharge from public power grids. To analyze these data is a considerable challenge. To have appropriate software for a live reporting of such data is a basic condition for an energy provider like sonnen. Thanks to Tableau, data analysis can now be performed directly by the departments, without the need for programming skills.
“After introducing Tableau, meter monitoring was implemented in a matter of days. Potential errors at the measuring points now can be found even quicker than before. We now have the ability to proactively approach clients and business partners, instead of just reacting to inquiries,” explains Simone Thien. In practice, potential downtimes can be shortened and the reliability of products for clients increased.
Meanwhile, sonnen has installed its own Tableau Server. About 15 employees are responsible for the creation of analyses and evaluations. “Our team members were positively surprised by the options offerd by Tableau— and without any need for programming,” reports Simone Thien on early feedback. “The simplicity of operation via drag & drop, the interface to Salesforce which provides the appropriate options for evaluation, and the savings in terms of time and effort through automization were praised. For example, we were able to complement our financial reporting with Tableau and now offer a detailed view of data which wasn’t possible before because of the efforts involved. Data preparation in Excel that previously would have taken two entire days now takes less than a quarter of an hour with Tableau Prep.”