Utilities – don’t forget smart meters are a software project, says study

The market for meter data management in Europe has potential but may be hampered by the approach of utilities to innovation, says recent research from market intelligence company Frost & Sullivan.

The main driver for the adoption of meter data management is the need to manage and use data generated by widespread smart meter installations. However, due to a lack of ICT experience, energy companies are concentrating on potential risks and strongly focus on the basic functionalities related to data acquisition, meter management, and simple consumption information. This approach may prevent many of them from fully capitalising on the potential of MDM, says the study

Investment needed

As awareness grows on the importance of high-volume data management and data pattern analytics, meter data management will become an important investment category for the deployment of smart meters, predicts Frost & Sullivan.

Initially, demand for meter data management solutions will come from large distribution system operators with many mid-size companies following suit.

Ewa Tajer, information and communication technologies research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said: “Although many utilities still fail to consider smart metering as a software project, the number of those that demonstrate strong interest in energy loss reduction and asset management is on increase. Consequently, meter data management solutions will evolve into smart grid platforms.”

Commenting on the need for vendors to find a balance between cost and functionality, Mr Tajer said: “Utilities will develop their IT environment step by step, adding new functionalities in the course of time. Therefore, vendors expand their portfolio with analytics hoping for an increase in profits. Existing participants are building up their capabilities either by organic growth or acquisitions. New entities are entering the market by expanding their portfolios or trying to tap opportunities by entering into partnerships with meter data management providers.”