Smart grid analytics: Lessons learned by Baltimore Gas & Electric


By Jesse Berst


I've been chatting recently with folks at Accenture and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) to learn how they are currently collaborating to create some intriguing analytics applications. I'm preparing for an upcoming data analytics webinar on March 26. (Click to reserve a spot if you think you might want to attend.)


At Smart Grid News, we label our webinar series "Lessons from the Real World" because we focus on practice, not theory. So I was very interested to hear what BGE has learned so far. For one thing, they are approaching analytics as an ongoing process, not a single "big bang." They are actively searching out business problems and figuring out which ones can be best solved through advanced analytics. With the momentum from a few early wins, they can then expand to solve even more problems.


Let me step you through the process as I understand it. Then I'll give you some examples of analytics projects BGE has underway. I'll finish with a few of the lessons learned.


The process of picking your targets

The Accenture consultants had a choice when they first came to BGE. They could have marched in arms akimbo and declared (in their best superhero voice): "We're here to help!" After all, Accenture works with hundreds of utilities around the world, so it certainly has opinions on which analytics applications will have most value.


Instead, it initiated a series of conversations with various business groups. It provided basic education around analytics. But mostly it looked for business issues and challenges that might be amenable to an analytics solution.


From there, Accenture and BGE evaluated and prioritized the possible projects. They prioritized by several criteria -- the availability of data, the size of the potential benefits and the ability to finish within the time window (about six months for this first go-around).


Once it had its projects in priority order, the team built use cases -- or "value cases" as Accenture Senior Manager Matt Comte prefers to call them. "We look at analytics as a means to create value. We examine the business and how it is performing. We look for areas critical to the company's strategy that are in need of investment."