$30B energy company democratizes data with a data marketplace

NRG’s Enterprise Data & Analytics team had a vision to democratize data and act as a catalyst for a data-driven culture. Credera built a data marketplace over NRG’s data lakeplatform to foster data consumer trust and collaboration as well as to build transparency for their leadership team. By surfacing data assets, ownership, data lineage and other metadata in an intuitive domain-specific UI, business managers and data analysts across the organization were better able to find, trust, and leverage data. Additionally, the NRG Executive team was able to better access and understand the data products that support their business.

At a Glance

NRG’s executive team set out an ambitious strategy to move from a power generator to a bundled provider of home services by 2025. Executing this strategy required a unified data-driven approach across the company’s business units. However, buy in to a data-driven approach, varied across business units that had traditionally maintained their own data silos. To break down these barriers, they chose to build a custom, internal data marketplace that allows their executive leadership team and business stakeholders to easily discover, understand, trust, and use data.

NRG had built a cloud native Enterprise Data Platform, which used the Collibra data catalog to capture key metadata. Credera partnered with NRG to build the Data Marketplace to serve as the front-door to the lake by providing an enhanced view of the metadata in Collibra.

Using design thinking, we defined personas and requirements, designed the front-end user experience, and built a custom-fit marketplace that has led to increased trust in the data lake's offerings. The dedicated front-end of the Marketplace has improved the data shopping experience providing the executive team and leaders across the organization with better awareness, access, understanding, and trust of critical data and insights that help drive the business.

The Challenge

To move towards a data-driven culture, NRG needed to increase awareness and adoption of its data lake and improve data consumer trust

NRG had the vision to create a data-driven culture where persons at every level of the organization were empowered to use, understand, and trust data to drive informed business decisions that better served customers and connected dots across their value chain. To help the company transition towards a data-driven culture, they needed to establish a robust data foundation that would:

  • Provide visibility and transparency to key business reports and metrics

  • Promote collaboration across its enterprise hub & business unit spokes

  • Facilitate the creation of seamless data products that provide valuable insights

The keys to this adoption were transitioning to a hub-and-spoke model and tackling the common challenges that the company historically faced with data collaboration, which included:

  • Heavy reliance on tribal knowledge

  • Inconsistent business and data definitions

  • Data silos

  • Low visibility into existing data

The Solution

Democratizing data with a customized internal data marketplace

To ensure the to-be data marketplace would be adopted – a key to data democratization and data-culture – Credera adopted a design-thinking approach. We began by refining the problem statement and conducting user research and narrowing down to the priority users of the Marketplace whose needs we would focus on. We then defined key features, MVP scope, and functional requirements based on the existing Collibra architecture and the needs of our executive and power marketplace user personas.

The development phase involved creating prototypes and iterating on the front-end experience. Finally, we delivered a modern, scalable solution by building out the NRG specific data browse and request experience integrating with Collibra, Power BI, Databricks, and Azure Active Directory. Once MVP was launched, we continued to work with NRG to mature the Data Marketplace product considering both user feedback and new users to roll-out to.

Following a product-focused approach provided the structure to ensure the team was user-focused, aligned with business goals, collaborative, and risk-aware. Relying on Credera’s product management expertise to implement the Marketplace features ensured prioritization of target user needs, alignment of marketplace feature development with business goals, allowing for quick adaptation to new objectives, effective communication and collaboration between cross-functional teams, and identification and mitigation of risks and challenges to ensure continuous and timely feature delivery.

The Results

Increased adoption across the organization signals NRG is advancing a step further in its data-driven journey

NRG’s overall enterprise data and data lake have seen accelerated awareness, adoption, and understanding across the organization. This has been especially true among NRG’s executive team; its business leaders are better able to find and leverage data products to make informed decisions. Furthermore, key Data Science teams have begun to use and trust data from the enterprise lake for key models and analyses.

Data democratization is fully underway and adoption is growing, as measured by an increasing number of unique visitors and time spent in the tool. This growing adoption among a steady user base is a sign of increasing trust in the data lake’s data offerings. Additionally, the user experience for finding and leveraging data products across the enterprise has improved, as measured by conversions to ‘data check-out’ in the marketplace. What was once a time-consuming process consisting of e-mailing and finding those with tribal knowledge, is now as simple as search-click-read.

The dedicated marketplace front-end has surfaced data product owners, data stewards and source owners, lineage, and more to allow consumers to quickly find and understand what they need and producers to more efficiently find raw data and share products. By embracing the Marketplace, NRG is moving rapidly towards data democratization, enabling everyone to easily access, trust, and use data for business insights.

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