GE's latest Big Data push points to the sector's new directions
By: SGN Staff
Quick Take: I thought the release below from General Electric was a good excuse to check in on the category in general and GE's efforts in particular.
Last year, I gave you a heads up that GE was becoming a software company and that you needed to do the same. I still feel that way. Utilities must get much much better at using software to create value from the data flowing in from sensors and smart meters. At the very least, much better at shopping for analytics software and analytics consulting.
And that brings us back to GE, which is determined to become a major analytics player. To help them improve their aim, they've recruited a small group of utilities as advisors. "They don't know what they don't know," Brian Bradford told me. "They're not expected to be data scientists." Bradford is Director of Product Marketing for Smart Grid Solutions at GE Energy Services.
This new group is meeting monthly by WebEx and twice a year in person. They give GE their use cases and priorities. GE shows them their prototypes. And then they all trade notes to find improvements.
A library of powerful algorithms
As part of this process, GE is building up its library of algorithms suited to electric power utilities. It's not that GE is turning things into "off-the-shelf" analytics. It's more that they are creating "starter packs" - predefined approaches and predefined algorithms that can then be tweaked for each utility's special circumstances.
And that's where the Big Data wars are going next. Most of the players are on the same path. They start by doing custom work, but then they try to "package" those custom jobs so they can reuse at least part of the work with future clients.
And like most of the bigger vendors, GE is building a powerful, highly scalable platform on which to run those algorithms. After all, when you begin to deal with millions of meters and sensors you get... well, you get Big Data, and that requires a Big Engine. In GE's case, that "engine" is being put to use in many different industries - aviation, health care, transportation, electric power - where GE has a presence. Bradford calls it "a platform for the entire industrial space."
Creating competitive differentiation
If all the major vendors are a) building a powerful engine and b) creating a collection of algorithms, then what will be the winning factor? Bradford says it will be industry expertise. "We believe that people who understand the domain and the utility realities and who work with distribution engineers, will be the key to the utility space."
What has GE discovered so far? For one thing, many utilities are still struggling just to 1) get the data and 2) cleanse it. "At most utilities, nobody owns that task," Bradford explained. "The data is siloed. So there will have to be some big changes."
The current arms race in the Big Data space is nothing but good news for utilities. Our sector has several major vendors spending millions to create better tools and approaches. And now, as exemplified by GE, they are even getting utility guidance early and often as they build out their products. - By Jesse Berst
GE launches Grid IQâ„¢ Insight innovative utility program to tackle Big Data challenges
Bringing industry-leading utilities together, GE (NYSE: GE) launched its Grid IQTM Insight Innovative Utility Program (IUP) to focus on combining ideas and sharing expertise in big data, visualization and advanced analytics specific to distribution, transmission, customer service and consumer-related operations. The GE-led IUP brings industry experts togetherâ€"most recently at GE’s Software Center of Excellenceâ€"to share best practices, use cases, relevant governance, data challenges and regulatory impacts to show how the analysis of big data can bring significant value.
"Many utilities are challenged by the opportunities surrounding big data,” said Joan Soller, manager transmission operations, Indianapolis Power & Light Company. "Working side by side with other industry-leading utilities and with GE, we can help navigate the journey from very large volumes of data to tangible, credible outcomes based on real applications of analytics.”
GE’s innovative approach with the IUP aims to address big data issues one case at a time, utilizing analytics to produce tangible, measurable outcomes for the electrical utility industry. IUP members will access GE’s rapid prototyping initiatives (RPI) approach to quickly assess the impact of operational analytics and assess the business outcome and its value to utilities. The RPI is a short-duration, low-risk method used to validate the feasibility and value of a specific use case around big data, analytics and visualization. In addition, the IUP will use GE’s scalable analytics platform and share deep domain knowledge to address challenges such as:
Â· How to maximize asset management and investment through meter and edge device analysis and life cycle management.
Â· How to minimize outages and maximize reliability through predictive outage analytics and service restoration.
Â· How to maximize grid efficiency through better and more accurate load forecasting.
Â· How to achieve greater customer engagement through customer segmentation and social media trending analysis.
"This IUP will utilize a conservative approach to creating credible, analytical outcomes,” said Ram Sastry, director of distribution services for American Electric Power. "Using GE’s software engineering and expertise, we will be able to develop a road map for future utility success.”
Grid IQ Insight was introduced earlier this year as one of GE’s premier Industrial Internet technologies, focusing on grid operational analytics. It is designed to bring information value from the volumes of data acquired from various operational systems. The Industrial Internet is a next-generation platform pushing the boundaries of "minds and machines.” GE’s goal is to connect and combine the myriad of machines, facilities, fleets and networks that arose from the Industrial Revolution with the more recent advances in computing, information and communications systems brought to the forefront by the Internet Revolution.
GE’s Digital Energy business is a global leader in transmission and distribution solutions that manage and move power from the power plant to the consumer. Its products and services increase the reliability of electrical power networks and critical equipment for utility, industrial and large commercial customers. From protecting and optimizing assets such as generators, transmission lines and motors, to delivering analytic tools to help manage the power grid, and providing uninterruptible power, GE’s Digital Energy business delivers industry-leading technologies to solve the unique challenges of each customer. For more information, visit http://www.gedigitalenergy.com/.
GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com.