Fueling a Growing India
With so much valuable information about individual transactions at its many touchpoints with customers, IndianOil wasn’t able to get a clear picture of what was actually going on because the data was in different formats, and distributors had different databases and systems.
The company’s data warehousing project was a bold initiative to consolidate and centralize data from disparate sources all over India. The project was also instrumental in automating data collection processes in order to more efficiently capture information and get it into the data warehouse as quickly as possible. Previously, much of this information was extremely decentralized, paper-based and essentially existed in a vacuum where a single view of the data was impossible.
Today, each and every transaction that occurs – including customers purchasing cylinders of cooking gas or filling up their car – gets captured and sent into the central database.
By being able to pool data from different sources into a single database, IndianOil has gained a central repository that allows senior managers to view all data, analyze it and make decisions based on it such as cross-selling to consumers, shifting inventory around based on sales history and product consumption and ensuring adequate supplies of fuel and cooking gas are available to those who need it.
This new level of transparency makes it possible to capture data in a structured format and use that information for efficient analysis and reporting, giving IndianOil the means to better understand its relationships with its distribution partners and customers and providing the company better tools to improve customer service, inventory control and reconciliation of transactions.
With a better understanding of its customers, IndianOil can continue to expand on its goal of delivering superior customer service to the citizens of India. Customers no longer have to worry about the hassle of stocking fuel tanks or cooking gas, the automated process eliminates headaches and keeps costs low for its customers.
Reaching Goals with the Right Technology Partner
To achieve the important end point of having a central repository for data coming in from a variety of sources and in many different formats, IndianOil needed to implement a system that would allow its 5,000 distributors, its 2,000 gas stations and other outlets to easily and automatically enter transaction information.
Beyond just collecting the data, the company also needed a way to essentially “crunch” the data and bring meaning to the raw numbers and information.
Because of IndianOil’s history with Sybase going back more than a decade through its use of the PowerBuilder client-server application development tool and Adaptive Server Enterprise back-end database for transactional applications, it was natural for the company to look closely at Sybase IQ for its data warehousing needs.
Based on that past experience, IndianOil was confident that the new implementation would include a number of features, including a simple installation process, minimal maintenance and performance turning requirements and scalability.
The technology has made it possible for IndianOil to replace existing solutions with one that would help the company reach its goals.
A unique aspect to the project is that IndianOil developed the application that collects information from various sources completely in-house. With this internally-built software, IndianOil has moved from relying on several different software solutions to standardizing on just one.
IndianOil controls about 70 percent of the Indian market, yet it is always looking for ways to improve its internal processes – such as having a clear picture of gas supplies at its stations or cooking gas inventory at its distributors’ offices – as well as the customer experience.
Opening New Doors
The new data warehousing and optimization solution gives individuals within IndianOil much greater insight into their customer patterns, behavior and other information that can be used to the benefit of the company. For example, by having information on each transaction made by the 70 million customers of IndianOil’s liquified petroleum gas (cooking gas), the company is able to get a clear picture of the consumption of LPG by end customers. This helps the company to adjust its inventory across its network of over 5,000 distribution agents to ensure inventory is located in sufficient quantity at the appropriate locations. In addition, customers no longer have to present proof of their address to a local distribution office; under the new system, they simply call their local agent, and they will automatically receive a new cylinder of cooking gas at home.
This idea of “supply and demand” planning has also allowed IndianOil’s gas stations to keep just the right supply in its pumps because it can more easily forecast consumer need and correlate that to the quantity of gas available.
The data being collected in the data warehouse also makes it possible to perform cross-selling within IndianOil’s other business units and perform market analysis and segmentation. And moving from a manual process of entering data to a more automated process means the companies can perform transaction reconciliation with its distributors within one month rather than the six months it took previously.
Another key advantage realized with this data warehousing solution is the ability for IndianOil to exchange information with other oil companies in the country.
While it took about a year for all of IndianOil’s distributors to fully embrace the project, it has been successfully implemented at all sites with benefits realized across the board. Due to the consolidation and standardization, the distributors have been able to integrate all incoming data and cross-sell not just to existing consumers but also to customers in other verticals across IndianOil’s product line.