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Case Study: Harnessing the full potential of data and collaboration to boost innovation and adapt to an evolving industry

Case Study: Harnessing the full potential of data and collaboration to boost innovation and adapt to an evolving industry

Synopsis
5 Minute Read

MNP’s strategic and technical collaboration with Electricity Canada not only addressed the immediate challenge they faced but more importantly paved the way for ongoing innovation and cooperation within the industry.

Electricity Canada is a trade and advocacy association based in Ottawa that aims to be the voice of the evolving energy sector across the country. Their dozens of members and nearly 100 corporate partners work together to ensure membership is represented in every province and territory in Canada. With a vision to create a space for industry members to share information, best practices, and challenges, Electricity Canada pushes for excellence, leadership, and innovation in their everyday work.

As a trusted partner and advisor for Electricity Canada, MNP has fostered a unique working relationship with the organization to ensure their goals, members, and customers are advocated for across Canada. Currently, data is at the heart of industry transformation and Electricity Canada was quick to lead this thrust.

The Electricity Industry Transformation

The electricity industry is undergoing highly consequential change-driven
by evolving customer and societal expectations around the 4Ds.

Decarbonization

Slowing the global temperature increases means bringing greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) to a net zero.

Decentralization

The industry is turning to distributed generation and storage in a decentralized grid architecture for more efficient energy production.

Digitization

Increased demands for real-time data about energy production and consumption at various points in the grid must be accessible and reliable.

Deregulation

The governments of many countries have started to turn to the private sector and are deregulating their energy markets.

The challenge

Electricity Canada saw the value in data and its usage opportunities but understood through its Data Strategy Group that organizations were struggling with the foundation needed to reach their goals. Knowing their members had massive amounts of data they wanted to leverage to make faster, more informed decisions, Electricity Canada proposed an industry-driven engagement. This enabled them to share concerns, insights, and resources across the industry to create tools and methods for improved data foundations.

After creating industry-wide use cases, Electricity Canada realized that improved underlying data and governance would be required to put the uses cases into action. Executive buy-in, beyond technology, was going to be key for the support and funding needed to build out the data infrastructure to power the use cases.

This challenge was amplified by foundation issues needed to approach the problem, and efforts to communicate the efficacy and usage goals had been ineffective to that point. While they aimed to illustrate that more data could help to anticipate customer needs or provide better preventative maintenance, work had to be done to put them in a good starting position first.

The approach

After winning the highly competitive RFP to assist Electricity Canada with building a roadmap to meet their data needs and goals, MNP’s teams immediately focused on bringing strategic business and technical perspectives together.

Cost of business use case implementation: Business-sponsored

Cost of foundational capabilities implementation: Technology sponsored

A business case was created by leveraging a prioritization model to help showcase how technology could effectively communicate the value of using data. By making a repeatable process and toolkit – which included a data valuation model, conversations about what matters to executives in the way of proposals, etc., and using findings to develop a template for members – members are able to apply the learnings and principles easily.

It was clear that communication and engagement with the association’s technical experts, executives, and stakeholders – would be key to understanding the needs of members, as well as the approach that would be best to meet the changing needs of the industry as a whole.

Coming to the table with a previously validated methodology, framework, and tool gave everyone involved the opportunity to see the comprehensive approach to getting started and a path to success. MNP’s team demonstrated the success of specific use cases, getting granular and digging deep into the issues at hand to illustrate how the right approach can cover all bases.

From there, MNP’s team worked closely with the Electricity Canada team to adapt the methodology to best suit their needs. Finally, ensuring effective translation of the information from technical into business value brought the opportunities to life for executives, illustrating the positive and lasting implications of effective data usage.

Standard data-focused business cases and a two-dimensional criteria and evaluation came together to create a robust representation of the solution and clearly define the value it could provide. Electricity Canada’s Digital Strategy Group were instrumental in tailoring the methodology to resonate with team members and the committee, which included IT representatives from electricity companies nationwide.

As importantly, MNP conducted interviews with more than 30 top level executives from Canada’s energy and utilities companies from every province and territory varying in size to ensure both qualitative and quantitative aspects were addressed in the business case framework and tool.

"This engagement has demonstrated to us that the strongest return on investment comes from getting the right subject matter experts together starting on day one. Having the right industry experts in the room enhances collaboration, accelerates solution development, and helps strengthen relationships between key players. MNP made that happen." – Daniel Gent, Director of Transmission and Reliability, Electricity Canada

The result

MNP’s strategic and technical collaboration with Electricity Canada not only addressed the immediate challenge they faced but more importantly paved the way for ongoing innovation and cooperation within the industry.

MNP’s work was well-received and led to invitations to present their findings at multiple sessions and webinars across the country leading to many energy and utility companies coming forward to express their interest in repeating this process for their specific organization and use cases.

Ensuring Electricity Canada team members had a clear vision for their path forward was a priority for both their team and MNPs. Effective knowledge transfer as well as ongoing support and resources were particularly important to establish while also solidifying the confidence their team needed to navigate their business and data challenges. The tool that was developed, and the information learned, can now empower energy companies with the capability to adopt and implement their own unique data improvements.

The initiative ultimately facilitated collaboration among the association and its members, offering a chance to experience and enhance their collective effectiveness.

The implementation of data governance and infrastructure improvements position Electricity Canada and its constituent companies for improved capacity and competitiveness in the evolving landscape of the country’s energy sector. While it’s the first big step in their data journey, the solid foundation now in place will position them for ongoing success.

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