Big data and its effective analysis will be the next competitive advantage that businesses will have over their competitors. This is according to John Hagerty, program director of IBM who points out that for a long time, data and analytics formed part of a business' reporting and analyst paradigm. However, it has now become a driver for various types of engagements, particularly when it is coupled with the cloud. We covered this aspect in our article, Data Analytics-The Cloud Killer App for the Smart Grid.
There is a fundamental transformation which is taking place within companies where big data and analytics is encouraging interactions from management processes to the way applications work within an organization, explains Mr Hagerty. This process is also strengthening a business' potential engagement with customers.
Data analytics-a key business driver
In some ways, data and its analysis is helping to drive utility businesses forward.
If used effectively, data analytics has the potential of improving and sustaining a utility’s all-important customer connection, as well as its business performance. According to IBM research, businesses that are using big data and analytics the "new way" have outperformed their competitors by 75%-a figure not to be sniffed at.
There are five key points that the utility business needs to consider when aiming to make big data and analytics a reality:
- Building a culture to infuse analytics everywhere and on everything an employee touches-This is where management needs to take the lead. Every department should be encouraged to use data analytics and the benefits for both the utility and customer must be communicated properly. Top management and decision-makers need to lead by example and reiterate the importance of effective data analysis across the board.
- Choosing the right business cases so that big data and analytics can be transformed into reality-The solution is to look inwards into the business. This can include acquiring, retaining, up-selling, and transforming financial processes.
- Investing in software capabilities to ensure there is awareness that data comes in all different forms, and therefore needs to be treated and deployed differently.
- Being proactive about governing privacy and security policies, because often, while the data is used for internal purposes, it is generated externally. This is also to ensure that the business' reputation is protected if the data is hacked.
- Decisions must be made as to how the data will be deployed, especially since there are different architectures available. This can include on-premises, in the cloud, as a service, and as a hybrid.
The use of analytics is key to improving and sustaining a utility’s all-important customer connection, as well as its business performance.