Utilities are, however, more prepared to manage the smart grid data deluge today than they were a year ago, with 17 percent responding they are completely prepared, up from 9 percent in 2012, the study says.
Utilities and Big Data: Accelerating the Drive to Value, the second annual study in the Oracle Utilities Big Data series, shows utilities still struggle to fully leverage the data collected. Significant potential still exists to use this information to drive customer service and operational improvements for business value, Oracle says.
Oracle’s report surveyed 151 North American senior-level utilities executives with smart meter programs to gauge their preparedness to handle the big data influx and how data is being used to improve operations and customer service. The survey also asked utilities how they plan to use smart grid data in the short- and long-term, and where they expect to derive the greatest value from predictive analytics.
Fifty percent of utilities report they are using smart grid data to improve customer service and operational efficiency today (see chart).
Fewer than half of utilities use smart grid data to provide alerts or make other direct customer service improvements: 47 percent use smart grid data to implement demand-response programs, 40 percent use it to target customers for new programs, 34 percent to establish new pricing programs and 26 percent to alert customers with usage spikes.
The survey also found that 62 percent of respondents said they have a big data skills gap — including those who say they are prepared for the smart grid data influx.
While two out of three utilities are considering cloud-based solutions for smart grid/smart meter data management and analysis, only 26 percent are actually planning, implementing or maintaining a cloud solution today.
Also, 70 percent of utilities said they expect predictive analytics to improve revenue protection and 61 percent said they expect it to reduce asset maintenance costs.
In May, IBM teamed up with Arad Group to develop a product that will help utilities and water companies use big data and advanced analytics technology to better manage drinking water.
IBM is working with Arad to integrate the latest analytics algorithms into the company’s automated meter system software, which will help utilities reduce water losses, cut costs and better understand water consumption. The embedded analytics is designed to reduce the number of false alerts and provide customers with email or SMS alerts when a leak is detected, IBM says.