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IDC: Utilities Need to Implement Sophisticated Business Intelligence Tools

FRAMINGHAM, MA — IDC Energy Insights today announced the availability of a new, industry-leading study that reveals the critical need for the utility industry to implement business analytics solutions to support automation processes, to make better capital investment decisions, and to empower customers to manage their energy lifestyles. According to the study, the utility industry is expected to be one of the fastest-growing industries in adopting business analytics technology in the next few years.

Unlike any other research available in the industry, the new report, Business Strategy: Ready for the Dip…Err…Plunge? Utility Business Analytics details how utilities can efficiently leverage business analytics in both the near and long term to improve operations, increase customer satisfaction, and continuously optimize business decisions.

A recent IDC survey (IDC and Computerworld Business Intelligence and Analytics Survey, October 2010) revealed that, today, utilities most often cite grid reliability and operational awareness as key reasons for investing in business analytics. However, respondents indicate that they will begin to go beyond better transmission and distribution (T&D) asset management to focus on T&D automation and cybersecurity to support grid reliability, requiring more advanced analytics to adequately understand and support these complex systems.

In addition, the smart grid will provide a vast amount of meter and sensor data that will require more sophisticated analytics that move beyond data management, querying, and reporting. Over the next 5-10 years, utilities will see the introduction of game-changing technology, such as commercially viable energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and greater integration of distributed energy. In the future, utilities will use analytics tools to support demand response planning – managing the consumption of electricity in response to supply conditions.

“In addition to increased quantities of data, utilities must deal with an increasingly diverse set of data from a variety of new sources,” said Jill Feblowitz, vice president, IDC Energy Insights. “Sources can include real-time data from external resources such as weather, traffic, and geospatial information. The data can also come from more unstructured resources, such as social media. Integrating and leveraging these sources of data to make critical, real-time business decisions will require more advanced business analytics applications.”

Utilities today are also highly interested in increasing their customer value. By understanding customer needs through improved data and analytic applications, utilities can better serve customers and ultimately improve their satisfaction. Today, utilities have access to tools that can combine smart meter, bill payment, and demographics data with analytics to improve customer service functions, including better access to billing information and solutions, more sensitive credit collections, and more effective marketing communications. As more complex analysis is introduced, customer empowerment will increase in areas such as customers' ability to forecast and manage their energy and water bills, as well as manage energy devices such as electric vehicles, smart appliances, and home energy management systems.

The IDC Energy Insights report highlights where business analytics will likely return the most business value for utilities, describes near-term implementation strategies, and outlines the key factors for ensuring long-term success. The report also features a list of vendors who are working with utilities to help deploy analytics solutions that meet utility business needs.

For additional information about this study, please see:


2 comments on “IDC: Utilities Need to Implement Sophisticated Business Intelligence Tools

  1. Wale Bakare
    April 13, 2011

    It seems there alot underway to deal with. Especially in the area of smart grid – concantenation of telecommunication, electricity and software technology as well as electric vehicle. This will indeed require intellingent tools to handle, IDC has beamed a search light on this. Anyway, this is a good piece of research work, its worthy savoury on as all are gearing up for the much of smart grid and electric vehicles.


  2. hwong
    April 18, 2011

    This is an excellent article. Analytics will be the future of many companies, not just utilities.

    But in the energy/ utilities world, it would be great to integrate all the external information such as weather, traffic, meter usage data, distribution sensor data and other sources to determine the grid operations and to automate it.

    One of the biggest issue about electricity is that currently it cannot be stored. So if we have more trusted data to predict how much electricity to generate at what hour, then it will help to eliminate or reduce excess. It will also help to generate enough to meet the demands.  Of course, when the batteries that can store energy  becomes more affordable, then the generated electricity can be saved rather than wasted.

    What people need to do is to identify all the business scenarios on how to optimize this energy flow.


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