decision support. As more information flows from thousands of smart
devices across the grid, the deluge of data on the operational side
is as dramatic as that from customers.
The ability to turn this flood of operational data into business intelligence Uiat supports better decisions and more responsive network management will be a major future differentiator for utilities. A recent experiment conducted by Accenture Technology Labs (see sidebar) verified the applicability of cloud-based analytics for producing the necessary business intelligence in smart meter environments. Such findings suggest mat utilities will increase their adoption of cloud-based operational analytics in the next few years to produce business intelligence uiat is more timely, accurate, relevant, comprehensive and reliable man ever before.
Uniting Customer, Operations Management in the Cloud
As utilities develop and retine their strategies for managing me twin deluges of data from customers' social media and smart grids, the next step is becoming clear. Although mese complementary data streams might have emerged from different places, they demand sophisticated and powerful analytics to realize their value. By converging and integrating their customer and operational data and applying analytics across the merged dataset, utilities can optimize and coordinate their management of the customer and operational domains within a single cloud-powered analytics environment.
Where could Ulis lead? Other industries provide pointers to the future. Automotive manufacturers are building social networking capabilities into their cars. For example, Toyota has collaborated with salesforce.com to offer Toyota Friend, a private social network that allows Toyota car owners to connect with their electric vehicles and enables the car to send an alert when its battery needs recharging, according to the mashable.com article 'Toyota Owners to Get a Private Social Network."
Given such developments, it might not be farfetched to imagine consumers would appreciate a similar ability to connect via social media with their electricity meters, which would enable them to track usage and costs remotely in real time and manage domestic appliances to conserve energy. The same social network would be an ideal channel for utilities to manage customer relationships, interactions and tariffs.
Third-party vendors such as Tendril and Simple Energy Inc. are developing cloud-based platforms to enable social comparisons and energy usage analysis. All of the customer information and feedback would supplement the smart data generated from the network to help manage the operational issues and upgrades more responsively - all supported and enabled by cloud-based analytics. This future is already taking shape. For example, a large U.K.
electricity provider soon will have its smart meters plugged into AlertMe's energy-monitoring service, which takes readings of energy use every 30 minutes and provides ways to draw insights from the information. The aim is to reduce use, cut carbon emissions and help consumers save money - providing the benefits of big data to ordinary customers in their own homes.
The utility of the future will be a data-rich organization. Utilities that harness the power of the cloud to gather, integrate and analyze their big data will put themselves in position to be tomorrow's industry leaders.
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