Data Analytics – Consumers Favoured In North America

North American utilities see value in data analytics but so far have favoured their customers over the enterprise.
Published: Tue 26 Aug 2014

With all the data emerging from the smart grid, a new study from GTM Research has shown that over the past four years North American utilities have focused their data analytics efforts primarily on information and tools for their customers.

Focus on consumer analytics

Of the more than 200 data analytics projects tracked by GTM Research since 2010, 61% pertain to consumer analytics, while 19% are grid analytics, 8% enterprise analytics, 7% visualization, and 5% data management. Noteworthy also is that while the trend in the numbers of new project announcements in all these categories has been upward since 2010, the numbers of consumer and grid analytics projects have continued to increase in the year to date but in the other categories there has been a decline compared with 2013.

One reason for this focus on consumer analytics would be that smart metering has been the main infrastructure to be rolled out in the development of smart grids in North America. Others, cited by Andrew Mulherkar, associate grid analyst for GTM Research, include the regulatory and political focus on encouraging utilities to share the benefits of technology with their customers, as well as the potential threat of other parties stealing away the customers.

“It would appear the pressing need is just to get to these consumers and manage demand,” Mulherkar commented to Greentech Media.

GTM Research defines consumer analytics to include customer web portals and mobile applications, as well as the design, planning and optimization of energy efficiency, demand response and variable pricing programs.

Moving ahead with analytics

The volume of data emerging from the smart grid is increasing rapidly, presenting new challenges for utilities around management, storage, security and not least its application.

While the importance of consumer analytics cannot be underestimated, arguably grid and enterprise analytics is no less important if the goals of rolling out the smart grid are to be fully achieved. [Engerati-Data Analytics Has Major Benefits if Used Responsibly]

There are a number of obstacles facing utilities from harnessing the full potential of analytics. Among these are an absence of skills and training, lack of integration of different departments within the enterprise, and in some cases a lack of understanding of the value of analytics. [Engerati-Data Analytics Still Faces Obstacles]

However, these are no reason for inaction – as the more progressive 17% of North American utilities (in the 2013 Big Data survey from  Oracle, who claim to be prepared to manage the data deluge) show. [Engerati-Big Data for Big Change]

Further reading

Data Analytics: What Utilities Are Investing In Now