Smart grid deployments are having a number of positive effects on utilities and their customers, but the concept also has a side effect: it's producing vast amounts of data, today referred to as “big data.”
This data includes information on outages, voltage, tampering and diagnostic data – all of which can help improve operations and customer satisfaction, if it's used properly.
Many analysts are curious about what utilities are doing with all this data they are collecting.
Today Oracle (News - Alert) announced the results of the “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities: Plans and Preparedness for the Data Deluge” research report. The report surveyed 151 North American senior-level executives at utilities with smart meter programs in place to gauge how they perceive the business impact of “big data,” as well as how they plan to extract business value from the opportunities big data can present for targeting, engaging and serving customers.
The new report has been positioned as the first in Oracle's series of reports called “Utility Transformations,” which will examine how utilities use information generated from smart grid deployments to drive greater organizational efficiency, more reliable service and stronger customer relationships.
So how are utilities using this data? Incompletely, as it turns out. Utilities with smart meter programs in place say they are “somewhat prepared” to manage the data deluge, rating themselves a 6.7 on a scale of 1 to 10. Forty-five percent of responding utilities still struggle to report information to business managers as fast as they need it, and 50 percent report that they miss opportunities to deliver useful information to customers.
“Smart grid deployments are creating exponentially more data for utilities and giving them access to information they have never had before,” said Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Utilities. “Oracle's 'Big Data, Bigger Opportunities' report indicates that a vast majority of utility executives are working to enhance their ability to glean real intelligence from smart grid data – to ultimately create new opportunities to improve service reliability and deliver useful information to customers.”
“Utilities can benefit from establishing enterprise information strategies, and investing in the systems and people needed to make better business decisions,” he added.
Overall, the report found that utilities see a need to improve their ability to translate information into actionable intelligence and leverage data for strategic decision-making. Sixty-four percent said it is one of their top three priorities.
Without a doubt, the lack of robust data management in the smart grid industry will yield a rise in new smart meter data management solutions to help companies make the best of the valuable but complex information they've collected.
With such meter data management solutions, utility companies will be better placed to leverage smart grid data to improve customer service through efforts such as delivering demand response programs, forecasting demands, complying with regulatory requirements and minimizing outages.
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Edited by Braden Becker