Last spring, Finland’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy tasked Fingrid with building a centralized information exchange solution, informally dubbed the data hub, for the Finnish electricity market. Any major short-circuits notwithstanding, the data hub is expected to revolutionize the Finnish electricity business.
This decision followed an exhaustive survey that Fingrid carried out in 2014, which provided the foundation for the data hub. The study’s cost-benefit analysis indicated that the data hub would result in considerable savings. However, the principal motivation for the project is the desire to create an electricity market for the future.
The data hub will make it easier for new electricity vendors to enter the market and customers to change suppliers without delay, even during a sales conversation over the telephone. The information exchange solution is also expected to enable a better customer experience.
Traditional companies in Finland can look upon other data hub projects for what to expect. For example, as a result of data hub projects, new suppliers have rapidly gained significant market share in Central Europe, such as in the Netherlands, where traditional electricity suppliers have been unable to transform their organizations quickly. Yet the successful deployment of the data hub will depend on the readiness of all suppliers to adopt the system when it opens.
How will we ensure the readiness of suppliers in Finland?
CGI has participated in 10 data hub deployments across three continents. Against this background, and in light of our three-decade-long experience in the Finnish energy sector, I consider robust project management between Fingrid, the sector and the solution providers to be a critical success factor. The broad social significance of the project and high number of interested parties will make it essential for the data hub to facilitate efficient decision-making. Developments in the electricity market and legislation will also bring change requirements, which the project must be capable of meeting in a sensible way, taking account of local market conditions and requirements.
At this point, Fingrid has stayed on schedule. During the autumn and early winter, Fingrid defined future market processes in cooperation with the sector, and the first drafts of all data hub processes are now being circulated in the sector for comments.
In the current climate of change, however, companies should not neglect the development of their own operations. For traditional Finnish energy companies looking to safeguard their market share, now is the time to reconsider their processes. Take invoicing, for example: Is sending out invoices part of the core business of energy companies? Could the data hub be used for invoicing? How will the accuracy of invoicing be verified for network and sales companies? Finally, what potential applications will the datahub have?
While the questions are many, one thing is for certain: the data hub will revolutionize business! CGI looks forward to helping our clients take this journey forward, helping them answer these questions and transform to best compete.