Uniper cuts time to insight by 50 percent and drives profits in excess of €50 million a year with Tableau


Over 1,000 active Tableau users across company
Analyzing and monetizing data 50 percent faster than legacy BI tools
Advanced analytics in real-time helps accurately predict future power needs

Uniper generates, trades, and markets energy on a global scale. Based in Düsseldorf, Germany it ranks among the largest generation and trading companies in Europe, combining a balanced portfolio of technologically advanced large-scale assets with outstanding technical and commercial expertise. At the beginning of 2018, the company completed a major data infrastructure overhaul, which saw the existing data warehouse approach replaced by its new ‘Atonyx’ data platform that combines the flexibility of a data lake with the powerful analytics capabilities of Tableau.

The company’s agile approach to data reporting and analytics has cut time to insight by up to 50 percent over traditional BI solutions, boosting revenues through better intelligence and fostering a data-driven culture amongst employees. It has also made Uniper a more attractive company to work for amongst young technology graduates, encouraging fresh talent to join the industry and alleviating the sector-wide pressures associated with an aging workforce.

Tableau allows us to compare data sets and monetise information around 50 percent faster than would be possible with legacy IT processes. As a result, we’re better informed, better prepared, and able to capitalise on changing market conditions at incredibly short notice.

Accurate real-time intelligence helps maximise profitability

Today’s power generation industry is an extremely competitive environment, where precise planning plays a pivotal role in maximising profitability.

“In the past, many power stations would run for a significant amount of the year” says Damian Bunyan, CIO of Uniper. “Now, it’s not uncommon for modern power stations to run for just a couple of hundred hours a year, based on periods of peak demand. As a result, when that demand does arise it’s essential our plants are available to run.”

Fast, accurate market intelligence is key to this, providing a significant competitive advantage to those who can plan most effectively. Uniper uses Tableau to analyse a wide range of market variables in real-time, predict demand and schedule essential maintenance accordingly, meaning plants are always available when needed.

“Using Tableau, we’re able to scrape both proprietary and public data into rich visualisations and analyse everything side by side, for the most accurate intelligence possible,” says Damian. “This includes everything from historical power usage and plant maintenance logs, to weather data and publicly available market information, all of which play a key role in predicting future power needs.”

Careful planning of maintenance and availability in Tableau helps Uniper generate profits in excess of €50 million per year.

“Tableau allows us to compare data sets and monetise information around 50 percent faster than would be possible with legacy IT processes,” says Damian. “As a result, we’re better informed, better prepared, and able to capitalise on changing market conditions at incredibly short notice, which is exactly what we need to ensure the ongoing success of the business.”

Tools such as Tableau represent the cutting edge of analytics technology, which is what tech-savvy employees want to be working with day-in and day-out.

Data-centric ethos creates a highly appealing workplace for fresh industry talent

Uniper’s emphasis on data and the use of real-time intelligence to boost profitability has also made it an enticing place to work for data scientists and new, tech-savvy graduates. With the entire sector suffering from the effects of an ageing workforce, this injection of fresh talent offers a positive step towards long-term prosperity.

“The work we’re doing is attracting interest from a new generation of employees looking to work at the forefront of analytics and data intelligence, which is fantastic for our industry as a whole,” says Damian.

The company recently held a tech open day for undergraduate students, many of whom expressed a desire to start their careers with Uniper after seeing the opportunities available and the technology in use on the analytics side of the business.

“Tools such as Tableau represent the cutting edge of analytics technology, which is what tech-savvy employees want to be working with day-in and day-out,” says Damian. “In the past, many of them wouldn’t have considered a career in the power industry, but once they see the direct impact their work could have on revenues across the company, it becomes a highly appealing prospect to them.”

When we announced our next round of training recently, we had over 120 responses in less than 72 hours. There’s a real appetite amongst current and new users alike to grow their Tableau skills and self-serve their own data needs, which greatly benefits the organisation as a whole.

A data driven, self-serving organisation

Uniper currently has over 1,000 active Tableau users and Damian estimates this figure will top 1,500 by the end of 2019. The company runs regular training sessions, both in-house and in partnership with Tableau, helping users to learn new techniques and get even more from the platform than they already do.

“Every day, more employees ask to be given access to Tableau,” says Damian. “When we announced our next round of training recently, we had over 120 responses in less than 72 hours. There’s a real appetite amongst current and new users alike to grow their Tableau skills and self-serve their own data needs, which greatly benefits the organisation as a whole.”

“We’ve stopped counting the number of hours we’ve saved using Tableau,” concludes Damian. “I remember meeting with the chief engineer of one of our power plants not too long ago. Using three PCs stacked on a desk, he was attempting to show the station manager the numbers from the previous day, but despite running the program overnight it was still displaying errors and not processing properly. I saw the same engineer again recently and he used Tableau to project the real-time data of every power station in the UK on a single laptop. Once we implement Tableau Mobile, he won’t even need the laptop anymore!”