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Big Data Analytics: A Blueprint for Applying Analytics in the Utility Industry

By Dick Weisinger

How can Big Data and analytics be successfully used by businesses today?  What are the drivers behind the technology?  The key success factors?  How can you get started with a Big Data Analytics (BDA) initiative?

Those are the questions that IDC recently took on.  Specifically IDC looked at 700+ global utility companies and studied how those companies have been able to apply Big Data and analytic technologies to help their businesses.  The result of the IDC study is a BDA Maturity model.  The IDC model has five core dimensions: intent, data, technology, process, and people.

Robert Eastman, research manager of IDC Energy Insights, said that “the utility industry is not as mature as some other industries in their use of analytics but has some terrific opportunities ahead. We are already seeing more utilities piloting or experimenting with big data and analytics. Given the mix of challenges facing the utility industry, we expect to see more pilots and proofs of concept going on over the next 12–18 months. So this is an opportune time for most utilities to be assessing their maturity with regard to big data and analytics.”

While IDC’s recommendations specifically singled out utilities, the recommendations would seem to apply more broadly.

The top ten traits of businesses that achieve success with Big Data Analytics programs are as follows:

  1. Develop management support for the project
  2. At the enterprise level, establish justification and funding
  3. Target data sets which can provide actionable insights
  4. Include multiple data types in their analysis
  5. Build in scalability and reliability into the BDA system
  6. Adopt advanced analytic tools for predictive analysis
  7. Develop mobile apps that can access the data and analytics to support decision making
  8. Hire, develop, motivate and retain people with strong analytics skills
  9. Promote collaboration within the organization
  10. Apply discipline to strategy and planning
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