Big Energy Data Requires a Grand Vision
Big data is the term used to identify the integration and interpretation of large and varied datasets. This data comes from the utility meters, banking transactions, customer call centers, social media, custom research, emails, etc. The potential source of information seems infinite.
To manage this data, we often refer to the four Vs of Big Data: Variety, Velocity, Volume, and Veracity.
Variety describes the many forms of data that can feed into business operations. Generally, thought of as either structured or unstructured. Structured data is that which is created by devices; such as those monitoring the utility substation or the meter on the house. Unstructured data is that which is created by individuals; such as emails, text messages, pictures, documents, etc.
Velocity addresses the rate at which information is transmitted to the collection point.
Volume represents the total size of the data collected from all sources that feed into the business operation. It is a function of the Variety and Velocity.
Veracity assesses the reliability and quality of data collected. This data ‘scrubbing’ is increasingly necessary as the volume of data increases. As Volume increases the number of erroneous data elements will increase in proportion.
“If utility leadership fails to clarify a grand vision for their operations over the coming decades, then utilities will have an equally hazy presence in the energy markets of tomorrow.”
Big Data decisions made by corporations generally seek to limit the variety of data collected, slow the velocity of data flowing into their operations, restrict the volume of data available at any given time, and reduce the impact of errant data on its customers. Left to itself, informational technologists will seek to minimize each of these elements.
One reason for limiting Big Data is cost considerations. The larger each element the greater the resources needed to manage the data. The other reason is one of practicality. There seems little interest in storing large quantities of data that will never be analyzed or used in the day-to-day operations of the organization.
Utilities must maximize, not minimize, their Big Data investments if they are to engage consumers in energy management. Like other investments, Big Data must be managed with purpose and strategic direction. At my consultancy, we advise utilities to develop a vision of their operations decades from now. We ask them to envision and describe customer interactions in 10-year increments; starting with today. So, I ask you here, what does the utility customer expect in 2014? How do they interact with your operations? Will it be the same in 2024, 2034, or 2044?
The answers come quickly. Unanimously, clients agree this will be very different in 2044 than in 2014; however, very few respondents have a vision as to how customer relationships will evolve. This poses a problem, not just for the utility IT staff, but also for society as a whole. Infrastructure investments must add value today and serve the interest for utilities tomorrow. If utility leadership fails to clarify a grand vision for their operations over the coming decades, then utilities will have an equally hazy presence in the energy markets of tomorrow.
Authored By: Kevin Monte de Ramos
Kevin is a data science executive and management consultant. His efforts improve operational efficiencies by embedding advanced analytics into your product and service lines. Past innovations have in many instances become legacy systems in their own right; providing clients and employers a long-standing competitive advantage that have spanned decades. His ability to listen, learn, and lead gets the job done! Kevin is a 21-year veteran of the industry, serving utilities and government agencies. He has been a solopreneur since 2001, advising management on the development of market transformational initiatives and defining frameworks for impact assessment.
If you’d like to learn more about how Urjanet empowers energy managers, download our Solutions Sheet: Utility Data for Energy Management and Procurement – or contact us today.
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Urjanet, the global leader in utility data aggregation, simplifies how organizations access and use utility data, enabling them to focus on their business. Our technology collects, processes, and delivers data from over 6,500 electric, natural gas, water, waste, telecom, and cable utilities worldwide.