Many utilities are fairly familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart meters are finally IoT devices. But what they are struggling with is the output of smart meters and other advanced scanning technology: the volume, speed and variety of data that result from IoT implementations inside and outside their control. That is new.
Terabytes of data flow from connected IoT devices, creating big data. But that is only descriptive. The key question: what meaningful things can be done with big data? Answer: with analyzes valuable business insights can be disclosed from data.
Unfortunately, most tools lack the necessary analytical tools and skills to make the data work for them. But they are far from alone in this respect – many other industries face a similar challenge.
Use new data sources
The challenge for data analysis continues to grow for tools. Not only is there a need to extract data from meters and distribution means that they manage, but they also have to use new data sources behind the meter. These sources include devices such as smart thermostats in homes and commercial buildings, submeters and distributed energy sources (DER), such as solar panels and onsite energy storage systems of customers.
Quite frankly, the increasing amounts of IoT device data can be overwhelming, especially because experts in the field often describe the digital information in terms of data mining, data rivers and data assets.
Utility managers seem to recognize the challenge created by this increase in data and the need for analyzes. Almost half of the utility managers and key personnel who responded last year to an ABB-sponsored survey said that the biggest hurdles to stop analytical projects are (in order) data availability: access (23%), skilled staff and lack at a centralized location for data storage (both at 19%) and budget or lack thereof (13%). Money for analytics is interesting not an important problem.
Embracing IoT analyzes will be crucial
Navigant Research believes that utilities need a new strategy, one that fully embraces analytics in the IoT era. This is necessary for utilities that want to transform their companies digitally into the future of Energy Cloud, where digital processes generate useful insights across the entire energy ecosystem.
Tools & # 39; s need to start with a comprehensive strategy, supported and directed by C-suite executives. They also need urgency, to go beyond pilots where too often projects die and fast.
They should focus analytical tools on pain points that, if relieved in a meaningful way, could yield operational and financial benefits. For example, engineers from a US-based, investor-based utility company were able to apply analysis tools from meters and other sources to detect a significant number of customers stealing electricity.
The result was the recovery of more than $ 16 million in revenues that would otherwise have been lost in the past year.
But utilities must not rest after a single project. They must stimulate the acceptance of analyzes throughout the organization. Each functional group should be encouraged to look for ways to conduct analyzes for valuable results.
Fortunately, the way forward is not just on utilities. Navigant Research believes that analytical suppliers have the responsibility to adjust their tools and processes to better meet the needs of utilities.
The goal should be to simplify solutions that solve utility-specific problems, and to focus on outcomes utilities over technological hype.
At first glance, the intimidating use of huge datasets seems to be analyzed. But as more devices connect and huge amounts of data flows between many systems inside and outside the network, the use of advanced analytical tools can not remain on the sidelines or in silos.
It must become an operational and strategic imperative if it is not yet. The digital transformation of the utilities sector is in full swing. It would be risky not to embrace analytical tools now and go with them as they get older.