Oracle study: Utilities still not seizing smart grid data opportunity

Oracle researchers reflect that most utilities are seizing data potential more than this time last year -- but there's still a lot of work to do.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

There are certainly businesses within all industry verticals still struggling to figure out how to use big data to their advantage, but a new survey from Oracle suggests utility companies are farther behind.

The bottom line of the report is that utilities aren't taking advantage of the business value potential presented by smart grid data technology.

While acknowledging that most utilities are doing a better job of this than compared to a year ago, Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager of the Oracle Utilities team, lamented in the report that many of them are still puzzled.

Yet, Oracle also predicted that the average utility with more than one million customers will invest approximately $180 million in smart grid and metering technology over the next five years.


Here are some of the highlights from the study:

  • Fewer than half of the utilities surveyed use smart grid data for customer service improvements.
  • 62 percent of survey respondents admitted they have "a Big Data skills gap." Businesses are grappling with trying to hire talent to crunch big data in-house or outsource the workloads entirely.
  • Only 17 percent of utilities surveyed affirmed they are "completely prepared," up from nine percent in 2012.
  • Approximately a quarter of utility companies surveyed said they are at least planning (if not already deploying and maintaining) a cloud operation.
  • Utilities might be wary of making the investment at all considering only 15 percent expect ROI within the first year. Roughly 22 percent can't even predict when they'll see returns.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of utilities at least on board with the idea of implementing smart grid technology.

Researchers highlighted higher revenue and reduced maintenance costs as the two primary motivators for utilizing smart grid data to boost business strategies.

For reference, Oracle's report is based upon the responses of 151 North American senior-level utilities executives with smart meter programs.

Screenshots via Oracle

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