In Analytics, Use Cases

Analytics are on display—literally—at DistribuTECH 2015, the North American utility conference running this week in San Diego. At the SpaceTime Insight booth, I walked through a virtual reality inspection tour of a substation, with asset analytics displayed next to malfunctioning equipment for complete assessment and troubleshooting.

The roster of exhibitors at DistribuTECH includes nearly 80 companies claiming ‘Data Analytics’ as a primary descriptor of their products and services. Exhibitors can claim only a handful of descriptors, so their “vote” for ‘Data Analytics’ demonstrates industry interest in the topic.

Analytic offerings come from several different sources:

  • Dedicated analytics companies such as SpaceTime Insight
  • IT companies such as Intel and Oracle
  • Traditional utilities vendors that offer analytics such as Elster and Siemens
  • Consultants such as Accenture and CapGemini

And of course, roaming the exhibition hall turns up permutations resulting from partnerships, OEM agreements, and other forms of collaboration between these sources.

This plethora of analytics companies may prove that the utility sector is finally recognizing the growing challenge and opportunity of big data and the Internet of Things.

But it seems like many analytics solutions are still offered as siloed systems, focusing on one vendor’s equipment, one asset class, or one part of the utility value chain.

Some of the dedicated analytics companies, such as Space-Time Insight, and some of the consultants, such as Accenture, are grasping the opportunity of situational intelligence to span the analytic silos within utilities to create actionable insight to improve reliability, safety, and affordability.

Time will tell whether the trend toward insight across silos, as well as within them, grows to keep pace with big data and the Internet of Things in the utility sector.

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