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Freer Flow of Data for Water Utility With Virtual Data Marts

The Challenge

A major U.S. water utility catering to an estimated 15 million people in the United States and Canada wanted to extract insights from data so its business and IT teams could make data-driven decisions. The utility—which has been in service for more than 125 years—had legacy dashboards that were confusing, ineffective, inconsistent and poorly integrated with its enterprise systems. The company needed real-time reporting capabilities and improved data quality in several business areas. It also wanted an analytics strategy roadmap to acquire, manage, transform, validate and utilize the data collected from various platforms. The utility turned to Cognizant's digital utility experts for a data-driven decision-making solution.

Our Approach

We began working on the utility’s data strategy engagements and selected SAP HANA—the market-leading platform for reporting, dashboards and data analytics—to build virtual data marts (VDMs) that met its analytics needs in various business areas. This also acted as foundation for additional projects. We followed the agile scrum methodology to accelerate the utility’s time to value. This model, using the JIRA tool, also ensured continuous participation of the utility’s multiple stakeholders during backlog grooming, intermediate and final demos and team meetings. We published and maintained product backlogs of user stories for each step of the agile sprint-based software delivery model.

SAP HANA VDM for Wide-Ranging Benefits

The new system, based on SAP HANA, helps increase the accuracy and volume of data for all critical reports and reduces the time required to obtain reports to five to eight hours, from 24 to 48 hours. Additionally, it provides quality scorecards for the data in source systems such as SAP ECC, CRM and ISU. The utility is now able to personalize customer interactions based on billing profiles thanks to improvements in its back-end systems. The VDM provides real-time access to data and faster access to cross-departmental data. The utility also has better visibility to plug previously unknown water leaks, thereby recapturing lost revenue.


reporting time to 5 to 8 hours, from 24 to 48 hours


quality scorecards to improve data accuracy


accuracy and volume of data for critical reports