Origin Energy powers up with enterprise-wide Tableau adoption


1,700 users on Tableau Server
Reduced duplication and inconsistencies
Maximized time for strategic planning

Australia’s leading energy provider Origin Energy covers the energy supply chain of power generation, production, retail and distribution – serving over 4.2 million residential and corporate customers. To stay ahead of the information age, Origin Energy adopted Tableau on an enterprise-wide scale to create a consolidated source of truth and free up resources for more strategy-focused work.

Business Intelligence (BI) Manager Greg Lambert shares his company’s adoption process, and how Tableau has enabled data sharing and analytics at the speed of thought, with zero duplication of effort.

Tableau gives us the ability to gather and curate very diverse sets of data and visualize them for people in a coherent way.

Enterprise-wide adoption

As a large integrated energy supplier, Origin manages copious amounts of data that is constantly changing. Prior to Tableau, employees were performing complicated operations on Excel such as Excel macros and VLOOKUP. “As soon as the business wanted to deal with more rows than Excel could handle, you’re up against a wall,” Greg shared.

“Tableau Desktop came along with the ability to address all of those issues, so that was a real catalyst for using it.”

The adoption grew from a specialist group of analysts who began using Tableau Desktop for their own analytical purposes. Managers started requesting for Tableau after seeing its powerful ability to manipulate and drill down on complex data. With a growing need to publish shared data in a controlled way, Greg and his team adopted Tableau Server, which now has 1,700 users on the cloud.

To ensure accountability and quality control, the BI team assigned domain stewards to oversee different domains of data in the energy company, ranging from power generation and retail to risk management and finance. These domain stewards set permission controls to ensure security, and Origin business users have to get written approvals from them to access the content on Tableau Server.

Tableau is like the Excel pivot table on steroids.

Single source of truth

Origin employees from various departments ranging from sales to finance rely on operational and performance reports in their daily work. “It’s very up to the minute, and there are lots of people looking at them all the time,” said Greg. From call centre to sales performance data like wins, losses and customer churn, a large number of users consume a broad base of data sets at every moment of the day.

With their previous reporting workflow mainly centered on Excel, Greg observed a significant duplication of effort in preparing and presenting financial performance information. There was no single source of reference for managers from top management to the ground level. With duplication came inconsistency, and figures were constantly being questioned.

The lack of real-time reporting and publishing capabilities impeded Origin’s ability to make timely business decisions. This challenge pushed the Business Intelligence team to search for a solution like Tableau. In particular, Tableau Server’s “completeness of vision” stood out to them. With unified dashboards, business users can now do comparative analysis at the speed of thought.

Strategic business focus

Freed from the need to constantly compile figures and check accuracy, Origin’s entire business focus has experienced a paradigm shift. Day-to-day manual tasks are reduced and their processes sped up, allowing teams to focus on strategic work such as business planning and forecasting.

For instance, the finance team no longer spends time collating actuals, and they now have more bandwidth to think about budgets and forecasts. Questions that used to take 40 PowerPoint slides to answer at lengthy meetings can now be manipulated quickly by managers to discover crucial insights which they have not even thought of before.

“It’s really that old adage of ‘I didn’t know the questions I was going to ask until I got here, and now I know I want to ask these questions,’” shared Greg. Now, finance managers can access reports on any day of the month to get the most updated figures in real time.

“That is a complete paradigm shift from where we were with hard-copy financial reports going out towards the end of the month, which people had no time to read.”

If I were to describe Tableau in one word, it has been liberating for us.

Big-picture data exploration

On the technical front, Tableau has also liberated the BI team to investigate untapped data sources and create new information assets for the business. As business users are now equipped to do self-service analytics, Greg’s team only needs to publish qualified data on the Server and let users explore on their own. What this means for them is that they can now focus on the bigger picture.

“Because Origin is an integrated energy supplier, the information we can gather is almost endless. So my team is now free to tap into new data sources and do database preparation on the back end.”

Summing it up, Greg said, “If I were to describe Tableau in one word, it has been liberating for us.”

As the use of Tableau proliferates in Origin, working and collaborating with rich data visualizations will become common practice as the energy leader paves the way forward in the information age.

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