‘Big data’ – are utilities prepared?


Rodger Smith,
Senior VP and GM,
Oracle Utilities
Redwood Shores, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 11, 2012 – Utilities with smart meter programs in place are just somewhat prepared to manage the data deluge, rating themselves a 6.7 on a scale of 1 to 10, according to a new survey from Oracle.

However, 45 percent of the surveyed utilities still struggle to report information to business managers as fast as they need it, and 50 percent reported that they miss opportunities to deliver useful information to customers.

The “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities” survey was conducted with senior executives at 151 North American utilities with smart meter programs in place to assess their preparedness to handle the growth in data and their plans to extract business value from this data.

According to the study these utilities have increased their meter data collection frequency by an average of 180x.

Other findings of the survey are:

  • Smart meters deliver an unprecedented stream of critical business information, such as outage, voltage, tampering and diagnostic data, which can help improve operations and customer satisfaction
  • Utilities need to improve their ability to translate information into actionable intelligence and leverage data for strategic decision making, with almost two-thirds putting this in their top three priorities
  • The biggest challenges pertain to lack of talent to execute data analysis and limited processing speed. Utilities also struggle to define which department owns the data, with 60 percent saying it is owned primarily by the metering department
  • Meter data management (MDM) systems may provide help, with 70 percent of those utilities with an MDM system in place (46 percent of the utilities) saying they are prepared to successfully manage the data influx versus 51 percent of those without.

“(The survey) indicates that a vast majority of utility executives are working to enhance their ability to glean real intelligence from smart grid data,” commented Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Utilities. “Utilities can benefit from establishing enterprise information strategies, and investing in the systems and people needed to make better business decisions.”

Looking ahead the survey found that customers can look forward to a more transparent tomorrow with smart grid data. Utilities with a smart meter program in place plan to spend an average $178 per customer over the next five years to move smart metering/smart grid forward.