Using Meter Data Management and Analytics to Advance Utilities
The utility landscape is undoubtedly going through a transformative change. Utilities are increasingly implementing smart technologies and, with tightening budgets, they are looking to maximize their investments. Within that context, smart grid technologies are providing utilities with more data than ever before, which can sometimes be overwhelming. That's why the utilization of meter data management (MDM) software is quickly becoming essential to processing and analyzing that data.
Currently, the majority of utilities are using MDM to process data for automated billing. However, as utilities look to get more from their data, they'll be turning to MDM to provide value-based analytics that drive outcome-based solutions and actionable insights, such as revenue assurance, leak and impedance detection and cathodic protection. They'll be looking for the right data - not just "big data" - to make decisions and take action.
According to Navigant Research, meter data management systems (MDMS) revenue is expected to grow globally from $223.7 million in 2015 to $600.9 million in 2024. With the improved insights from data, utilities can enhance their grid operations, save money, recover resources and enrich customer engagement. As utilities implement these technologies, MDM functionality is expanding and has multiple applications to provide data-driven business insights for grid operations and consumer engagement.
With the right MDMS, a utility can aggregate data across operational, transactional and financial silos to garner a more holistic and intelligent understanding of their business and, therefore, streamline operations. Customer service representatives can also leverage the data to engage with customers and help them to better understand their usage and billing.
In essence, MDM solutions consolidate meter data from multiple sources into one platform and transform the data retrieved from the field into absorbable information. Using these insights, utilities can establish consistent surveillance routines to accurately evaluate the performance of their smart grids.
Having access to one secure, centralized data management environment significantly reduces the likelihood of errors in business processes that use sensor data. As an example, Itron's Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (IEE MDM) - an extensible MDM solution that connects a suite of analytical software outcomes - significantly improves access to information used for decision-making and analysis by capitalizing on the wealth of data available. Centralizing the collection, processing, storage and complex analysis of data is what makes this enterprise application a critical component to AMR, AMI and smart grid efforts.
Now, as utilities shift from using MDM solely for automated billing purposes to enabling analytics, they are looking to build upon this new big-picture understanding of reliability and voltage analysis, transformer load management, theft detection, phase identification and even consumer engagement. This type of actionable intelligence will become the foundation of smart grid strategies going forward.
In today's ever-changing utility landscape and in the face of an increasing amount of data, utilities need the tools and technologies to manage data and benefit consumers. Transitioning MDM from solely automating utility billing to providing value-based analytics that drive outcome-based solutions will help them effectively utilize the right data at the right time. Having the right information at their fingertips will allow utilities to address key challenges and create a more resourceful future.
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