Gartner recently reported that investment in business intelligence (BI) jumped 13.4 per cent in 2010, with enterprises looking to increase efficiency and competitiveness. One Australian-based business investing in BI is alternative energy company Infigen Energy (ASX: IFN). Infigen rolled out BI software to manage the large amounts of data generated by wind farms spread across three continents.
Infigen CIO, Jillian Carmody, spoke exclusively to CIO Australia about the rollout, saying that the information generated by the company’s multiple turbines across Australia, the United States and Germany was becoming hard to process.
“At the time they had to report on 79 wind farms in six countries and they were required to manually compile the information for every wind farm every month — this was a big, time consuming task,” she said.
“Availability of farms is extremely important, and by having intelligent systems, it was easy for them to slice and dice the information as needed for reports.”
Carmody said the quality of Infigen’s data was another reason for the deployment. “The meaning of data coming out of those farms wasn’t very consistent either,” she said. “So all in all, the business needed to understand it needed to do something more sophisticated.”
Carmody partnered with Oakton to rollout Microsoft’s Business Intelligence SQL Server suite after going to market. She said that the eight-month rollout has enabled better data analysis. “The overall visibility of what we have now and the potential information we have is greatly improved — by using the business intelligence tools and combining this with our financial information as well.”
A return on investment not being “hard and fast”, Carmody said, adding that some of the project's benefits will take some time to become clear.
“Some of the benefits will take 12 to 18 months from some of that to pay off for us,” she said. “As we start to roll these systems out more, the company continues to mature and evolve in the way that it does its business.”
As well as integrating the BI platform with finance information on the business, Carmody said the company is now deploying record management systems and SharePoint.
“It’s much more of a focus on getting improved communications out to the farms so we can use business systems in a more manageable way,” she said.
“We’ve recently commenced a documents and record management system that we’re building in SharePoint.”
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