In a turbulent energy market, utilities providers—and their customers—need insights to effectively manage bills and spending. Essent uses Snowflake’s Data Cloud to transform sales and operations reporting and make more-informed decisions that support customers and help them avoid ‘bill shocks’.
With over two million electricity and gas customers, Essent is one of the largest energy providers in the Netherlands. A subsidiary of E.ON, Essent is one of several brands working together to provide heating and energy to customers—while helping everyone in the region shift to greener sources of fuel.
Between increasing demands for renewable energy sources, and geopolitical events creating unprecedented shifts in energy pricing and demand, data has become more important than ever for Essent.
We spoke with Anthony Roes, SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) Product Owner at Essent, to understand how the energy provider deployed a new reporting system on Snowflake—and how it can now help customers take better control of their bills to avoid uncertainty.
Greener, cheaper energy starts with better data
Essent strives to help its decision-makers and its customers make the most informed choices. That means helping customers reduce their energy consumption and bills. And ensuring its own teams have the insights they need to source energy efficiently, and at the best price.
“Data is at the core of all of this,” explained Roes. “But it has to be readily available for all users, ideally from a single location.” Essent’s legacy architecture prevented this, with multiple data warehouses in use across the business. And this led to slower decision-making. “Sales, Ops, IT were all working from different foundations. Our data pipelines required manual intervention, so we couldn’t guarantee timely insights—and that slowed down our time-to-decision.”
Essent and its customers can navigate uncertain conditions with confidence
Once Essent knew it needed a new data platform it quickly found a solution that could power its reporting ambitions. “We ran a short proof of concept with Snowflake, and straight away I knew it fit all our needs,” recalled Roes. “It made sense for us to try Snowflake as it’s already in use at E.ON, and meets their architecture guidelines. But I was immediately impressed with its scalability, low TCO, and seamless collaboration.” Snowflake also fits in with Essent’s wider ambitions to become a cloud-enabled organization that gets to market quickly while promoting a culture of engineering innovation.
“It was easy to provision Snowflake environments, so we only took a matter of weeks to get up and running,” explained Roes. “But we had to retool our own systems and processes. That was more complicated, but Snowflake was really helpful. They offered on-site training to get our data analysts up to speed, and our account manager showed us what was possible with the platform’s features.”
Engineers, customers, and Essent itself all benefit from a faster platform
So far, the new platform has already delivered results for Essent, its internal teams, and energy consumers in the Benelux region.
“Now, we have the data—and the data pipelines—in place to get insights faster,” explained Roes. “In these uncertain times, that’s been a big help in avoiding any ‘bill shocks’ for our customers. Now we can ensure monthly bills are up-to-date and able to cover energy use over a year. And we can even offer customers actionable insights on how they can reduce their energy consumption and spend.”
The speed of reporting helps customers, but it’s also appreciated by internal teams at Essent. “Snowflake is definitely quicker than our old system,” said Roes. “We’ve reduced the runtime of our logic from an hour to just five minutes. And our engineers are really happy with the tooling. As a business, we also benefit from the lack of downtime and maintenance. We would usually spend 60 hours per year maintaining our old system, but Snowflake handles all of that automatically.”
And as Snowflake is replacing multiple disparate systems across Essent, it’s also helping the energy provider reduce its costs. “We can decommission three systems now that we’ve implemented Snowflake,” explained Roes. “That helps us save on our maintenance contracts and means we can turn three teams to work on new initiatives instead of supporting legacy systems.”
With Snowflake’s scalability and automation tools at its side, Essent has also been able to accelerate time to market more generally. It can now respond quickly to any proposed Government regulations, energy price caps, or other forms of market turbulence.
Essent and Snowflake are set to grow together
“We already use Snowflake as our reporting foundation,” said Roes. “But it’s also a platform for our business. We’re already seeing more teams beyond Sales and Operations looking to use it. Our sourcing team is also beginning to explore the possibilities with Snowflake. With comprehensive insights to hand, we can improve our sourcing to make cost savings—then pass those on to our customers.”
Essent also has plans to build out data collaboration across its teams and subsidiaries. “Vandebron, another Dutch energy provider acquired by Essent, is also a Snowflake customer,” explained Roes. “There are use cases here for us to share sales and operations data between our Snowflake environments, either as an internal marketplace or through another method. I’m excited to explore the possible PoCs with Snowflake.”
Similarly, Roes is keeping an eye out for new possibilities to create a data mesh across Essent using Snowflake: “With a data mesh, our teams can use data while keeping it where it originates. This means our experts can choose how they provide data to the business, while maintaining important context. I was inspired by talks at Snowflake’s Data Cloud days about the possibilities here.”
All of these ambitions will require a network of technology partners working in tandem with Essent. “We’ve historically been very careful about what partners we work with,” explained Roes. “Snowflake has been a great technology fit, and they’ve recommended other partners to us that should help expand our data modeling and automation capabilities. But we’re still looking for experts to partner with in several areas to achieve our modernization goals.”
“I see the work we’ve done with Snowflake as a real breakthrough moment,” said Roes. “Our customers may not notice an immediate change yet, but by transforming our internal reporting, every action we take can serve them better. Thanks to Snowflake, we can manage bill shocks better, and recommend actions to help them preemptively solve any difficulties they’re facing.”