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7 tidbits of in-the-trenches advice for your analytics program

“It’s hard not to open general magazines and not see analytics and data numbers everywhere,” began the opening speaker in the “Analytics Everywhere!” preconference session today at Utility Analytics Week in Atlanta.

The session continued by touching on the Internet of Things (IoT) Institute’s trends of 2016, which they published this summer and include:

  • Potentially record-breaking number of acquisitions
  • IoT playing field grows more crowded
  • IoT is so complex that partnerships are a must
  • Established companies double down on IoT to offset declining revenue
  • Security still a massive concern
  • IoT shines for industrial applications amidst patchy success in the smart home market
  • Keen interest in IoT outside of the U.S.
  • Smart cities and self-driving cars gain traction
  • IoT is now more about data than it is things
  • Beyond the hype and into reality

Taking those talking points and putting them through “utility analytics on the edge” as a theme, the panel discussed various analytics opportunities available these days for utilities, from DER to sensors to smart home thermostats.

But, despite a push out to the customer edge, most utilities use IoT for meter data at the moment, and while IoT is a new buzzword for the business, we’ve already had IoT for awhile. We just called it “smart grid.”

So, what’s the next step for IoT and analytics after meters? According to the panelists at the session, it’s about the customer service and engagement. While costs may drive today’s utility analytics, there’s a prediction that the future that driver will be the customer—or at least one of the drivers.

The session circled around these two concepts: How intelligent are utilities? How intelligent can they be?

And, down deeper: What can we do with that data every single day?

With all of those questions in mind, the reality of IoT and utilities is this: It’s not a far off thing, as one speaker noted. It’s now. It’s today. "I need to see info in real time," one panelist added. 

Some advice on pushing analytics at your utility from the session:

  1. Be OK with failure. Think of failure as moving forward.
  2. Think long and hard about what data you need and how you want to use it.
  3. Take one step at a time on projects and look at each step with flexibility.
  4. Start small but think big: You can use that data for billing today, but what else could that data inform tomorrow?
  5. Make your IoT data easily available to employees who need it.
  6. Join you IoT data with the enterprise data.
  7. Automate actions where automation may be most valuable.

Join in the analytics conversation. What's your #8? What advice would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below. 

And keep an eye out for more insights from Utility Analytics Week live right here in Energy Central’s analytics community and on Twitter @utilanalytics (the Utility Analytics Institute’s Twitter handle). You can also follow the conference hashtag on Twitter: #UAWeek16





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