A large water company asked its customer to be mindful of water wastage. To be as conscientious as its customer, the utility businesses needed a data strategy as fluid as its product.
As one of the largest water providers in England and Wales by geographic area, the company supplies drinking water to over six million domestic customers in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk. These are some of the UK’s driest regions and have seen fast population growth in recent years. The water company has increased water delivery to its customers and at the same time kept its usage rate the same as in 1990. This was achieved by reducing leaks and encouraging customers to use less and in an effort to reduce wastage the company asked its customers to be mindful about water wastage. To continually improve, they had to become as immersed in data as it is water.
To get deeper into its data, the water company needed to move away from a dependency on structured data to develop a way of analysing and understanding unstructured data. The existing Data Warehouse, although it had served this business well, prevented them from discovering insights from semi-structured, unstructured or streaming data sources. As a result, there was no ability for the business’s team members to be self-supporting in their use of data for reporting and data discovery, and team members were frustrated at the time it took receive reports. In addition, a Data Science team had produced models to solve key business problems, including leakage detection, but the company lacked the infrastructure to put the models into production. As a result, they missed opportunities for greater insight and forecasting.
Developing an Azure Modern Data Warehouse in a highly regulated industry such as water had the potential to be a multi-million pound development programme, and therefore carried a level of risk. To reduce the risk, the water company selected Adatis, a Microsoft Gold Partner for Data Analytics and Cloud Platform, to develop its Modern Data Warehouse.
Adatis and the water company shared the vision to develop a pilot with three objectives to reduce the risk potential of the project. The objectives were:
- Prove the technology and architecture were fit for purpose
- Produce a design for the architecture, data orchestration and transformation patterns
- To demonstrate the benefits of using an agile methodology to run the project
Adatis used DevOps methods such as Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to allow automated and more frequent deployments into production.
The pilot was a success and allowed the water company to develop the confidence that the components of the Microsoft Azure Data Warehouse stack, when delivered using an agile methodology, were the correct choice. As a result, the water company and Adatis are jointly building the first business solutions on the new platform with the adoption of reusable templates and patterns to enable faster delivery timelines. The increased pace has enabled the company’s analysts to provide its insights more rapidly, which is improving the decision making in the organisation. During the relationship, Adatis has provided continuous knowledge transfer alongside formal training to enable the water company’s delivery teams to gain the necessary skills to develop the Modern Data Warehouse platform.