LATEST THINKING


Transforming to become an insight-driven utility

With the expansion of data sources, utilities have ever increasing amounts of data to which they can apply analytics to gain business insights.

Overview

With the expansion of data sources from consumers, assets and third party data, coupled with the adoption of advanced metering infrastructure and other asset sensors, utilities have ever increasing amounts of data to which they can apply analytics to gain business insights.

While across the utility value chain there is increasing interest in the potential for analytics to inform better decision making, smart grid, is bringing to the fore some of the most complex opportunities: opportunities around which utilities should mobilize quickly, both for the benefit of their own financial performance, as well as their ability to comply with regulation.

According to Accenture’s report, The Digitally Enabled Grid – Unlocking the Value of Analytics, 96 percent of executives working in Transmission and Distribution, view data management as a key organizational capability to develop by 2020. What is less clear among those surveyed is how to transform from an organization that uses analytics on an ad-hoc basis into an organization that is powered by data and analytics.

Accenture analysis of industry data suggests that a conservative estimate for using smart-grid analytics to transform operating results could approach $40 to $70 per electric meter annually. The potential gains compel leaders to industrialize the discipline of using analytics to drive improvements organization-wide.

Rather than focus exclusively on a long-range program to become an analytics leader, however, a utility might want to consider data discovery disciplines to derive use case hypotheses and develop prototypes rapidly to demonstrate value gains year after year.

A long-range holistic approach increases the likelihood of generating greater insight to improve results throughout the organization. For the long term, integrated actions across data, technology, process, people and culture represent a balanced approach to executing a successful strategy that leads organizations on a journey from issues to improved business outcomes.

 

Download PDFRead the report [PDF, 1.98 MB]

Background

Utilities face significant challenges to meet their commitments to shareholders and regulators, while safely managing the health and reliability of the network. Utility executives continue to make important promises to shareholders to deliver earnings growth, yet these growth goals have become significantly more difficult to achieve due to lack of load growth, rising operating costs and the volatility of energy supply markets.

Over the next five years, disruptive changes are expected to put additional pressure on utilities’ economic models, including increasing focus on energy efficiency, the growth of demand-response programs and the impacts from increasing adoption of distributed generation.

In response, many utilities are deploying smart technologies to enable new capabilities and extract greater value from their assets.

Utilities have learned from their own experience and lessons from other industries that delivering value from these new capabilities requires fundamental changes to the business and operating practices. Many of these changes can only be achieved by deriving critical insights from the voluminous data captured by smart devices and correlating with data in current operational systems and with external sources.

Considering the potential value of this data, using advanced analytics to help drive operational changes has become a critical imperative for most utility executives. Accenture believes that the potential for value is compelling leaders in all markets to take steps to industrialize the discipline of driving operating change through analytics to an organization-wide scale, including integrating enterprise analytics with operational analytics. Successful companies will achieve a cultural shift to foster an information-driven organization that uses data-driven decision making to achieve high performance.

Recommendations

Accenture has five recommendations for utilities in order to elevate and evolve their mastery of data to become an analytical leader:

  1. Clearly articulate business priorities and design for analytics outcomes

  2. Complete an assessment of existing capabilities: from data and technology to talent, culture and performance management

  3. Consider process redesign and data quality and governance improvements in light of leading utility practices powered by analytics

  4. Develop an analytics roadmap rooted in executive priorities and value-based outcomes

  5. Promote a cultural shift to an analytically astute, insight-driven utility