For many of today’s utility companies, geographic information systems (GIS) are essential for managing often dispersed and extensive networks.

Netherlands-based utility Alliander, which relies on GIS to operate and manage its electricity and gas network, knew that having a GIS aligned with its business and technical needs was a top priority. The company wanted a system that could meet functional requirements like delivering advanced analytics and visual dashboarding while enabling the use of cloud infrastructure and advanced GIS features.

Developing a machine learning algorithm, in particular, could help Alliander speed up data cleansing efforts, respond to issues earlier and better and faster serve its customers. At the same time, Alliander sought to clean and optimize its GIS data model and structures for smoother and more streamlined functionality. The company believed that this approach would allow it to optimize its GIS experience through state-of-the-art GIS and continuously cleansed data.

What Accenture did

Alliander and Accenture joined forces to implement critical program components such as IT infrastructure upgrades, a GIS software refresh, data cleansing and a machine learning proof of concept to support data management. The team collaborated to:

Refresh Alliander’s GIS environment

Updating outdated GIS software to new, more user-friendly applications that would work with business and GIS users.

Conduct data cleansing

Enhancing data cleansing, including exploring advanced analytical and predictive methods in GIS data cleansing through a machine learning prototype.

Support SCRUM and SAFe

Drawing on the SCRUM/SAFe methodologies to help synergize teams, ensure on-time project delivery and drive faster cleansing.

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To ensure the project would be successful, Alliander made use of a number of assets. Accenture delivered key experts (such as SCRUM masters) to help facilitate the design and implementation of SCRUM, a business analysis and functional designs. At the same time, Alliander combined its internal knowledge with Accenture Technology and Applied Intelligence experts and the capabilities of Avanade — a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft — to put in place analytics, dashboarding and monitoring, and more.

Avanade’s expertise regarding Microsoft applications for Machine Learning (Azure ML Studio) was particularly valuable. The team drew on Avanade’s knowledge about available machine learning applications, iterated which one would best meet Alliander’s needs and determined how it could be implemented within Alliander’s organization.

People and culture

Co-creation and relationship building are of key importance in large scale implementations that involve intensive levels of collaboration. That’s why Alliander sought Accenture's assistance and knowledge in nurturing the agile mindset and ways of working it needed to be successful.

With the support of people from Accenture — notably Accenture's SCRUM masters — Alliander’s people recognized the value of agile and how it could help them maintain a more delivery-focused mindset. Agile, along with SCRUM applications such as JIRA, was also essential in helping Alliander’s people plan, concretize and carry out shorter delivery cycles.

Value delivered

Alliander has put in place a refreshed platform that is providing a greater GIS experience across its company.

With cleaner and more accurate data, Alliander can quickly respond to and protect real-life assets, drive a safer network and better serve and protect its customers. Cost and efficiency savings are also being realized through efficient data optimization and cleansing that are better informing field teams about the most high-priority and essential tasks. And for Alliander’s project delivery, new ways of working — enabled by the SAFe and SCRUM methodologies — mean faster outcomes and more rapid product releases. The software release lifecycle has accelerated from one or two releases per year to a release every three weeks.

Alliander can now drive a better managed electricity and gas network, contribute to a safer working environment, and provide a better client experience. Furthermore, it can better manage the energy transition and contribute to a sustainable future.

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