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Data management becoming critical in utility industry

Ben Farrell
July 16, 2012

The rise of smart grid solutions has created major problems for utility providers, as they now have to handle large quantities of data coming in from a variety of sources and figure out the best ways to manage it to deliver customer-focused and internal results. According to a recent study from Oracle, utility vendors who have deployed smart meters are making progress in data management, but still have a long way to go.

Smart grid technology uses wireless networking tools, specialized meters, monitoring devices and other connected solutions to track how much energy is being used by consumers and businesses in real time. This allows utility providers to gain a better understanding of how their customers use energy and provide integral guidance on how to improve efficiency.

However, the study found that many utility providers are having a difficult time finding the best ways to use their smart grid data effectively. When asked to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how well they are able to make use of smart grid data, respondents gave themselves an average score of 6.7.

Furthermore, approximately 45 percent of those polled explained that they are unable to deliver meaningful smart grid data to managers in time for them to actually do anything with it. Fifty percent of respondents said they miss opportunities to deliver useful data to consumers.

This is extremely problematic because many experts agree that getting consumers involved in smart grid solutions and helping them understand how to use the technology to improve power efficiency is key to the technology's success.

While many businesses may never have to worry about the smart grid, the issue of dealing with new data generated by emerging technologies is a global problem. Whether information comes from new IT systems, mobile devices, social media or other channels, businesses, like utility providers, have to deal with new types of structured and unstructured data. To make the most of information that is available, businesses may want to consider implementing business process management software, as the solution is capable of helping companies integrate data from a variety of sources and use that knowledge to make process-level improvements. This ensures organizations are equipped to make the most of the benefits offered by new technologies by giving them the ability to leverage data into better business processes.