The proverb “one man's trash is another man's treasure” is an apt description of STEP’s operations. The company’s business revolves around reusing industrial byproducts in energy production, with the aim of a 100% circular economy in which nothing goes to waste. STEP is owned by the Veolia Group and Porin Energia, and its business is centred on industrial zones in connection with the production facilities of various companies. It has operations in places such as Harjavalta, Seinäjoki and Koskenkorva.
STEP is continually searching for new opportunities to utilise different byproducts as energy. It was therefore natural for the company to want to improve and increase the role of data utilisation in its business – as effectively utilised data provides opportunities for business development.
Laying the foundations
STEP was already collecting and utilising data, but its solutions needed updating. Data was being collected on physical servers, and the company’s data transfer methods were sub-optimal for today’s needs. There was also a desire to enhance reports and data visualisation.
“We were seeking an agile and scalable solution that would support our business development both now and in the future,” says STEP’s ICT Development Engineer Harry Tuomisto.
“We also wanted to be better prepared for expanding our company and its business operations. More agile access to data generates more opportunities for new business,” he adds.
Another important goal mentioned by Tuomisto is to provide better customer service with the aid of data.
“You have to remember that we’re doing this work for our customers, and we want to generate added value for them with the aid of data. Other areas for utilising data come second to that.”
With these goals in mind, STEP launched its development project by conducting a preliminary analysis of the various options. The basic premise was to focus data storage on the cloud, which would provide the desired agility and scalability. A suitable solution for data visualisation was also desired.
“We went through the various options during the groundwork phase. Many options were discarded at an early stage, as they were not able to meet all of our requirements,” says Tuomisto.
Technology choices were also steered by Veolia’s earlier group-level choices and analyses. The eventual decision was to construct a solution out of Google and Microsoft products. Suitability, cost-effectiveness and the availability of experts tipped the scales.
“We wanted to choose technologies and products for which extensive expertise is also available in Finland. Now we don’t have to rely on a single supplier for tech or implementation.”
Confidence steers partner selection
After the groundwork had been done, STEP began to explore potential partners. Digia was chosen to join the project, as its proposals on how to progress made a good impression. Cooperation began with a pilot project that deepened and polished STEP’s preliminary study.
“The main reason for choosing Digia as a partner was confidence in their expertise. We had high expectations, yet we were still surprised by Digia’s knowledge and skills. Our cooperation has been both successful and rewarding,” says Tuomisto.
STEP now has a complete solution in its hands – one that meets the project’s initial objectives of scalability and agility. The foundations have now been laid, and the next step is to begin the actual work of developing and expanding data utilisation.
“We want to increase our data utilisation in, for example, business, production and HR management. Our long-term goal is for data to assist us in forecasting and to provide support for decision-making,” says Tuomisto.
“Another important goal is to provide better customer service with the aid of data, thereby enabling our customers to develop their own business as well.”