British Gas had ‘500,000 duplicate customer records following major SAP implementation’

Following a huge SAP implementation to migrate its 11 million customer records into one system, SAP’s data team has been left to join the 500,000 duplicate customer records in its data lake.

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Following a huge SAP implementation to migrate its 11 million customer records into one system, British Gas' data team has been left to join the 500,000 duplicate customer records in its data lake.

“It’s a very painful process,” said Mike O’Donohue, the director of insight and data at British Gas this morning at the Big Data Innovation Summit in London this morning.

The utility, which can trace its origins back to 1812, may have a new backend system to better utilise its customer data, but still faces challenges with cleaning data and ensuring data governance is in place so that agents “on the frontline” are inputting the right information, in the right place.

British Gas’ data team is using unique identifiers and Fuzzy methods like matching bank details to try to mesh the duplicate records that have been identified following the SAP migration, “with a great deal of difficulty”.

In addition, O’Donohue advised that firms in a similar position “have a conversation with the CEO about re-designing the frontline interface to stop agents, effectively, breaking the process.”

“People hear about the big data revolution and they think this is the silver bullet but maintaining the organisation’s focus on the programme over a long period of time is crucial.” O’Donohue said he worked with the CIO and architecture team to put strict guidelines in place, but most importantly the business user community.

“Our new brand positioning is about creating smooth running homes and we have co opted our big data strategy as a critical enabler to deliver that...we have a vision where a customer will call or interact online and we will be able to see that straight away. We are using our data lake as a repository to be able to pull and push data back to the front line.”

Agents, engineers and sales teams have been given apps that offer a full view of the customer, O’Donohue revealed. Engineers going into customer’s houses will have an app that details the customer’s personal information, complaints and the products they use.

“The feedback from the engineers is that it is transformational. There aren't any fancy algorithms yet  - we are just giving people the information they need to do their job.”