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3 Ways Utilities Can Benefit From Business Analytics

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Karen Marcus's picture
Freelance Energy and Technology Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked with...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Jul 17, 2020

The volumes of data now being collected by companies of all kinds, including utilities, can be overwhelming. Without proper context, it’s electronic clutter. But, with proper analysis, it can be transformed into unexpected insights that can drive decisions in ways guesswork — even driven by deep industry experience — never could.

These types of insights are only possible with business analytics, otherwise known as business intelligence (BI), which is software that includes tools and technologies that collect, integrate, organize, and evaluate data. Utilities are generally not known for eager technological adoption but, like any other type of business, they can benefit from the direction it provides. Here are just three examples.

1. Network Performance

Using analysis based on data sent from equipment sensors, BI enables you to be proactive in predicting maintenance needs with damage and leak detection and alerts. This proactive approach helps with staffing, budgeting, and CAPEX planning as well as avoiding outages that can limit revenue and erode customer trust.  

With BI, these and other actions don’t require special knowledge, so you don’t have to call your IT team every time you want to examine this information. Anyone with standard computer experience can be trained to use BI dashboards to find the material they need, enabling a safer, more secure, and more reliable network.

2. Customer Care

All the customer data you collect — including application information, survey responses, portal preferences, usage patterns, and service interactions — can be consolidated and analyzed for patterns that enable you to segment customers into groups that might be interested in specific products or services. Armed with this information, you can more effectively target and personalize offers, helping you build trust and retain business, especially in deregulated markets.

BI can also help predict future trends based on current and historical data. You can run analyses and change parameters to visualize how those trends would impact future business. Using this approach, you can better serve customers by knowing in advance how they might respond to certain decisions.

3. Employee Efficiency

You can also use BI to analyze worker performance to manage strengths and weaknesses. You can establish goals and measure individual or team operation against them in real time. As you make changes to internal processes, you can easily measure their impact. Additionally, you can use BI task management analytics to help projects stay on course through completion.

The same tools can help you be more efficient by streamlining processes, saving time, staying compliant with regulations, and managing finances. For example, report generation can be highly time-consuming. But, with BI, it’s a simple matter of selecting the appropriate data and desired format. This process becomes even more effective when data from different departments are consolidated for anyone in the utility to use.

Today’s utilities must meet a wide range of expectations from customers, regulators, the public, and other stakeholders. With support from BI applications, you can make fast, accurate, data-based decisions that are likely to move your utility forward with productive initiatives and plans.

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