Data, Data Everywhere… but Not a Byte To Eat?
As the game clock wound down to the last few seconds in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals Game 6, the San Antonio Spurs were poised to take home their fifth championship in recent years. But suddenly the ball was with Miami’s Ray Allen, and he positioned himself for a deadly three-point attempt. He stepped back, aimed, and…
Alas! My television screen went dark just when Allen launched the ball into the air.
It was only a minute later that I found both power and equity restored, as the game went into a fateful overtime, which Miami went on to win. The minor frustration left me wondering how many critical applications depend on our utility providers. And how much difference a momentary loss of utilities might make in a region where emergency services get interrupted!
On the provider side, unplanned downtime and cuts can result in huge financial and reputational losses. This situation is ironic considering how well utility providers actually “know” their customers today.
The utility business is, by definition, a gold mine of data and is changing every day. The utilities industry is transitioning and investing heavily in smart assets. For instance, €1.8 billion are already invested in smart grids across Europe today and, by 2023, the South American smart grid market will be worth $49.8 billion. IDC Energy Insights estimates that worldwide smart grid spending will grow from $20.8 billion in 2010 to $46.4 billion in 2015!
From the very generation of power in asset intensive plants, to the distribution grid, all the way to retail and business users, there are a myriad of points waiting to capture the data coming their way. Analytics solutions can help predict and avoid unplanned failures, reduce maintenance costs, improve uptime, improve customer experience, and increase profitability. Utility companies have always had this potential for data, and in some countries are even statutorily required to accumulate and retain certain information.
Making Sense of a Mountain of Data with Analytics
So, how much data are we really talking about? A North American utility provider records 221 million customer records per day after installing smart meters, about 2,500 times as many as the 88,000 it used to record with traditional meters. The question becomes, “How do we garner meaning from this avalanche of data?”
The availability of modern sensors, faster connectivity, and powerful computing tools has spurred on the development of sophisticated predictive analytics tools that can convert these billions of data points into valuable information. Information about asset health, potential for grid overload, correlation of usage with weather, and other patterns were never thought about before. This information has the potential to more than repay the initial investment in new software and hardware by transforming a “factory outlook” into a seamless blend of analytics and manufacturing, distribution, and retail.
This transformation is not only at the machine level—a change in employee culture and customers’ perspective is sparked when it’s understood that the company is finding new ways to increase efficiency and better utilize resources.
See this blog for a very innovative approach by a North American utility provider to improve customer experience by leveraging data analytics.
Visit here to get more information on Analytics solutions for Utilities industry.
With the right analytics solutions, maybe I won’t have to set up diesel generators to remain uninterrupted through a 48-minute basketball game!