Business Intelligence is not a new concept to utilities, as the analysis of data is as entrenched in every utility as the concept of providing safe, reliable and affordable power. However, the unique challenge facing utilities today is that there is exponentially more data, from more advanced sources, and dispersed to many more functional areas of the organization.
Utilities are operating in a new smart grid environment where they must start examining Business Intelligence and Analytics as a core competency. Careful planning and strategies need to be put in place to ensure data quality, manage and support system integrations, and ultimately determine the level of engagement of the customer.
Cognera conducted research in this area and surveyed investor-owned utilities, co-operatives, and municipally owned and operated utilities, and found some interesting facts:
Almost 70% of respondents with advanced metering infrastructure installations planned to use the data for purposes other than billing and specifically for a Business Intelligence application.
The most preferred single source for Business Intelligence software was within the actual provider of the AMI system themselves (50%), followed by a desire to see meter data management systems (25%) and customer information systems (15%) provide the Business Intelligence function.
70% of respondents said that they are currently unsure or would be using a combination of systems to provide the analytics and reporting required.
Five planning strategies for Business Intelligence
If you are part of the 70% unsure about Business Intelligence, consider the following as you begin the planning process.
1. Set specific goals and name your champion
Start with the basics. Set high level goals as to what you want Business Intelligence to provide your organization; clearly state who will be spearheading these initiatives.
2. Start small
Creating a Business Intelligence plan that starts out by engaging the entire organization and every possible data source is sure to be a project that has as much chance of failure as success. This task can be overwhelming, and if the end-users are not engaged, any Business Intelligence solution will not be accepted and used.
3. Gather feedback early
It is important to gather feedback from users early in the process and incorporate into deliverables, in order to drive user acceptance and adoption later.
4. Keep it clean!
This seems like a no-brainer, but data integrity is a critical component in the usefulness and effectiveness of Business Intelligence. No one is going to buy into the concept, or use the resulting tools, if they can’t rely on the data.
5. Expand into broader areas
Once you’ve implemented a pilot project within one area of the business, grow the project organically to include the remaining functional areas.
Every utility that is collecting data has the ability to make Business Intelligence a part of its ongoing analytics. Start the planning process now and download Cognera’s full report on Business Intelligence Planning Strategies for Utilities.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author Chris Lewis is the Director of Market Development at Cognera Corporation.
Guest blogger, Energy Efficiency Markets