Report Reveals Critical Need for Utilities to Implement Business Intelligence Tools

The utility industry must implement business analytics solutions to support automation processes, to make better capital investment decisions, and to empower customers to manage their energy lifestyles. According to the study, the utility industry is expected to be one of the fastest-growing industries in adopting business analytics technology in the next few years.


A recent IDC survey revealed that, today, utilities most often cite grid reliability and operational awareness as key reasons for investing in business analytics. However, respondents indicate that they will begin to go beyond better transmission and distribution (T&D) asset management to focus on T&D automation and cybersecurity to support grid reliability, requiring more advanced analytics to adequately understand and support these complex systems.


In addition, the smart grid will provide a vast amount of meter and sensor data that will require more sophisticated analytics that move beyond data management, querying, and reporting.


Over the next 5-10 years, utilities will see the introduction of game-changing technology, such as commercially viable energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and greater integration of distributed energy. In the future, utilities will use analytics tools to support demand response planning – managing the consumption of electricity in response to supply conditions.


"In addition to increased quantities of data, utilities must deal with an increasingly diverse set of data from a variety of new sources," says Jill Feblowitz, vice president, IDC Energy Insights. "Sources can include real-time data from external resources such as weather, traffic, and geospatial information. The data can also come from more unstructured resources, such as social media. Integrating and leveraging these sources of data to make critical, real-time business decisions will require more advanced business analytics applications."


Utilities today are also highly interested in increasing their customer value. By understanding customer needs through improved data and analytic applications, utilities can better serve customers and ultimately improve their satisfaction. Today, utilities have access to tools that can combine smart meter, bill payment, and demographics data with analytics to improve customer service functions, including better access to billing information and solutions, more sensitive credit collections, and more effective marketing communications. As more complex analysis is introduced, customer empowerment will increase in areas such as customers' ability to forecast and manage their energy and water bills, as well as manage energy devices such as electric vehicles, smart appliances, and home energy management systems.


The IDC Energy Insights report highlights where business analytics will likely return the most business value for utilities, describes near-term implementation strategies, and outlines the key factors for ensuring long-term success. The report also features a list of vendors who are working with utilities to help deploy analytics solutions that meet utility business needs.


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