New Opportunities Through Data Veracity and Value

The integration of data from multiple sources will help utilities harness new opportunities, insights, and value.
Published: Thu 13 Nov 2014

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Today, utilities have access to new data from many different sources. While smart meters are the most obvious, there’s also new data from sensors installed either as a new feature that comes in the box on ‘traditional’ plant and equipment, or installed directly on the network. Added to this, is the tremendous quantity of additional data from customer interactions over multiple channels.

Great value in multiple data sources

Interrogating new data coming from each system in isolation will provide some value. But it’s in integrating data from multiple sources that utilities can really experience new opportunities, new insights, and new value, says David Socha, Utilities Practice Leader, Teradata, (pictured) who will be co-presenting Engerati’s webinar on 20 November: Next Generation Smart Grid Analytics – Powered by Integration and Distributed Intelligence. Franz Winterauer, Head of Analytics EMEA, ONNETRIC Group, will also be presenting on the day.

Socha explains that by combining information from a Meter Data Management system with SCADA data, new network insights will be revealed, pointing to opportunities for deferring capital investment. He says, “Including customer data (within the appropriate regulatory limits, of course) can point to opportunities for Demand Side Management. The list is endless. But one thing is clear: the greatest opportunities lie in being able to ask new questions across multiple data sources.”

Focusing on data veracity and value

The importance of focusing on value in particular can’t be overstated, says Socha. “Big data is very fashionable right now. Every utility we talk to has a big data project or a budget allocation for one, or a student intern working on a Hadoop cluster somewhere. But, when a subject has so much hype, it can be easy to lose focus on the prize.”

He points out that utilities (as with most other industries) need to ask why they are carrying out the project. The project must be able to deliver new value to the business and to the customer. While it is okay to experiement, it is also okay to have big data projects that fail too – as long as they adhere to one of Teradata’s key principles: fail fast. “In other words, take stock of what worked and what didn’t, and move on to the next experiment. Because the whole point of the exercise is to develop new – actionable – insights and put them into production, taking new actions to deliver new business value.”

Some utilities are already starting to do this effectively, says Socha. Teradata’s customer Pacific Gas & Electric was recently recognized and awarded by Information Week for their innovative Interval Data Analytics program. He expands, “At EDF in France, our customer is ERDF but we work closely with EDF R&D to provide new opportunities for all the Group’s activities. The key point in both these examples is that the utility has not just focused on a point solution to a particular problem. Instead, they have taken a platform approach, to support a new philosophy with respect to the power and value data and analytics can bring across their businesses.”

The potential of advanced analytics

Socha points out that the potential of data analytics cannot be overstated. He explains that analytics is far more mature in other industries such as retail and finance, simply because they have had access to rich data for a while now. He adds: “Those industries are still delivering new projects, new insights, new value from analytics. Some have been integrating data for analytics for decades. They’re still not finished – because there is no finish line!”

In utilities, data and analytics will provide key enablers to manage the network differently: delivering reduced costs; improved power quality; fewer interruptions; greater capacity to connect low-carbon generation, says Socha. “The list is endless. Put simply, investments will be better informed and more targeted to achieve maximum effect, taking into account a range of factors that couldn’t – until now – be accurately considered with any real level of confidence.”

Of course, these investments deliver customer benefits too. But more directly, analytics provide opportunities to connect with customers in ways that suit the individual customer; to know that customer much better; to provide offers, tariffs and support better targeted and better timed to address each individuals requirements. Socha points out that this type of customer interaction is already occurring at the world’s biggest and best banks, retailers and telcos. “And it’s happening with the help of Teradata,” he says.

Helping utilities stay ahead

Siemens, Teradata and Omnetric have recently come together to offer utilities innovative data and analytics solutions. Socha explains how the agreement between the companies will help utilities move forward in the data department, “Siemens are global market leaders in utilities and Teradata are market leaders in data and analytics, globally. Together, we bring a combined skill set to the industry that is unparalleled. Secondly, this is not a ‘slideware’ partnership. Together we are developing – and have already developed – applications, tools and capabilities that we can directly apply at utility customers.”

Teradata has combined their comprehensive Utilities Logical Data Model with Siemens’ Smart Grid Data Model. Since then, the new data model has been developed further, as a key underpinning element to data integration in utilities.

“We have created joint offerings with Siemens and Omnetric, both to kick-start analytics discovery and to deliver strategic direction to full programmes. We have integrated key Siemens applications via our joint Logical Data Model and we are working with our first joint customers in developing new applications that can leverage our joint architecture.”

Omnetric Group will bring new delivery and consultancy expertise to the partnership.

“From these examples, I hope it is clear that we are collaborating very closely on many fronts. This level of co-operation from two industry leaders is the ideal way to help utilities stay ahead using data and analytics.”