Oracle has released the results from its “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities: Plans and Preparedness for the Data Deluge” survey, the first in a series that will look at how utility companies are using smart meter data. The study included 151 senior executives at utility providers in North America with smart meter programs in place to analyze:
- perceptions of the business impact of big data
- readiness to deal with data growth
- business strategy to use big data to better engage and serve customers
Energy providers with smart grids have access to new types of information and collect data much more often, which is generating exponentially more data – an average of 180 times more.
The study found that the utility providers with smart meters in place are moderately prepared to manage the increase in data growth. On average the respondents ranked themselves a 6.7 out of 10, but 45 percent are still struggling to report information to business managers in a timely manner. 50 percent admitted missing opportunities to deliver useful data to customers. The utility executives also see a need to improve their translation of data in actionable information; this was a top three business priority for 64 percent of respondents. In addition, the utility executives indicated they plan to use smart meter data to improve their customer service via improved capabilities like better forecasting.
Although Oracle’s study focused on the energy sector, its findings are consistent with other studies about big data. They consistently show that big data is a top business priority and is driving enormous opportunity for business improvement, which explains why Wikibon.org’s study projects that big data will be a $50 billion business by 2017. Companies see an opportunity to optimize performance and boost competiveness with big data, so they are investing in it heavily.
The IBM Business Analytics and Optimization for the Intelligent Enterprise study revealed that businesses can gain 20 time more profits and a 30 percent higher return by using big data and a mature business analytics and optimization strategy. In addition, over 150 CIO and managers that target the federal government market participated in a study by storage provider NetApp and government portal maker MeriTalk released in May. The results showed that 60 percent of the agencies they serve are using big data, and 40 reported their federal customers are using big data for decision making. A whooping 96 said they believed the use of big data will increase in the next two years. Fifty nine percent identified improving efficiency as the key benefit of big data.