Smart grid Big Data: Survey confirms utility opportunities, but spots blunders as well


By Jesse Berst


A new survey commissioned by Oracle Utilities confirms what we've all been thinking about the daily data deluge now engulfing utilities. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll discover some fresh insights. Many utilities are overlooking the most important way to use their data. Others have failed to take the foundational steps needed for long-term success.


Oracle's "Big Data, Bigger Opportunity" study surveyed executives at North American utilities with smart meters. It confirmed several trends we've been hearing about for the past year:

  • Data volumes are increasing dramatically
  • Utilities are making lots of investments into their information infrastructure
  • Utilities are beginning to use that data for decision support

To get beyond those obvious points, I spent time with Brad Williams, Vice President of Product Strategy for Oracle Utilities. Williams cites three areas where analytics can make a big difference:

  1. Operational performance
  2. Asset performance
  3. Customer performance

The survey says... what?

Williams also told me of two survey results that surprised him. First, only 46% of utilities have a meter data management system (MDMS) in place, something he considers "essential." Second, he was surprised to learn how many utilities are still keeping their information in silos. At 60% of the surveyed utilities, the meter data is owned by the metering department. Although only 29% gave ownership to the T&D operation, that is where Williams thinks the biggest opportunities lie.


Oracle's position is that smart meter data should be considered enterprise-level data... and that demands that utilities have an enterprise data strategy. The company cited four key takeaways:

  • Use analytics for operational efficiencies
  • Tackle ownership issues (treat data as an enterprise resource)
  • Consider an MDMS since utilities with meter data management can better handle the data deluge
  • Remember the customer (in addition to streamlining business, work to improve the customer experience)


More on this topic...

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Smart grid analytics: Why you should fire your coders (and hire solvers instead)


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.