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Modern utilities need to predict problems before they happen and big data analytics can help, said Ty Roberts, director of electricity product marketing, EMEA Region, for Itron.

Speaking at the Itron Africa Users’ Conference in Cape Town, Mr Roberts said utilities should be aiming for analytical maturity.

Roberts said: “The analytical journey begins with collecting data and understanding what has happened. The next step is understanding why something has happened, and the last step is knowing what will happen and being predictive.

“Research company Gartner describes it as ‘hindsight, insight and foresight’.

“Solving a problem before it becomes a problem should be the goal of every utility. In the US, we have learnt how important it is to mature along this trend line.”

Roberts also predicts that utilities will need data scientists on their teams in future to be able to “mine data”.

Itron has a range of analytical systems ranging from customer web portals with gamification aspects that compares a consumer’s usage with their neighbour or a householder of a similar size to financial analysis.

All customer-interfacing sites are mobile friendly as Itron believes this will overtake computer-based interaction in years to come.

Another aspect of the metering giant’s analytics offering is an ad hoc custom system where utilities are able to build in their own queries.