Iain Stewart, principal utilities expert for Teradata in the EMEA region, discusses trends in the global utilities analytics market.

I am often asked for my point of view on trends in the global utilities analytics market. My headline response this year is that I have seen a marked increase in interest and investment by network companies, in particular by those who are looking to operate, maintain and monetise assets more effectively.

Globally, many wires businesses are officially and unofficially asking suppliers such as Teradata “what can you offer in this space?”. Given the increased interest in such offerings, the list of suppliers in this space continues to grow. This sudden acceleration of the market has driven suppliers to approach network analytics from very different angles. It is hard to categorise the solutions on offer precisely, but most will fall into one or possibly two of the following categories:

  • Distributed network solutions implemented on the network itself which have productised analytics at the heart of what they do;
  • Virtual control and monitoring solutions that continually run and assess the state of assets based on configurable analytics algorithms;
  • Advanced analytics, and big data companies such as Teradata that can integrate data from across a utility, and any other relevant external data for analysis.

In addition to analytics, network companies are also evaluating the pros and cons of adopting industry standards including notation on data such as the Common Information Model (CIM), Smart Grid Architecture model and others. Advice on all of the above is given by engineering consultancies, systems integrators, and others. Are wires businesses confused? You bet they are.

The most telling statement I heard recently was from a distribution company that had just executed a short RFI around asset analytics. The most concerning thing for them was that every respondent gave a totally different response and approach to a single ‘exam question’ – so how can any supplier be ‘right’? This is a real blocker to change in the distribution space in particular. The festering uncertainty about what value might be delivered by any solution in an immature market will continually prevent the investment required to deliver the level of benefits expected.

Here is my response to this very valid concern from the network sector:

  • The three types of analytics I describe are all valid, and can deliver benefits on their own.
  • However, solution selection is not a straight choice between one solution that sits in one category and one that sits in another. Forward thinking utilities implement analytics solutions in each of these categories, often focused on the same business problem that when combined deliver exponential results.
  • Utilities asset analytics is still a young industry. Anyone who claims to have ‘out of the box’ benefits on sale and available for delivery tomorrow is probably lying. Over time you will see more uniformity in solutions, and indeed coalitions between suppliers – plus more and more reference cases as solutions are implemented.
  • Be bold. Everyone I speak to is sure of one thing: that there is significant benefit in investing in network asset analytics. Early adopters prove this to be the case, and in addition reputable suppliers like Teradata can show you examples from many other industries far more mature in asset analytics that continue to better monetise assets using data.

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Michelle is a freelance journalist and editor who, as well as covering all the latest and breaking industry news, is a gun proofreader and editor who never misses a trick.

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