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The Future Of Energy Is... Data

July 26, 2016   |   2:29 PM
Big Data Analytics
Teradata Articles

by David Socha, Teradata

Tesla’s recent bid to acquire Solar City and in effect become a new kind of energy provider has generated a huge amount of copy in recent days. Some cite it as another key milestone on the way to a new renewable energy world. Some cite it as the beginning of the end of the traditional utility model. Or perhaps another nail in the coffin, as the end of the traditional utility model has been nigh for some time now…


And yet others have used the speculation and hype about this bid to remind us of the technical and financial realities of moving to an entirely new energy landscape. Because in truth, it’s not really all that easy; it’s not here yet; and for now it’s mostly not actually commercially viable either. What’s clear is that our future energy landscape remains largely uncertain.

As a subset of the recent blogs on Tesla will tell us, we can’t just wave a wand and move to a new model overnight, leaving the old utility dinosaurs and their 100+ years of critical national infrastructure behind. It doesn’t work like that. Traditional utility companies will have to be there to take us – at least part of the way – along this journey to the future energy landscape.

On their part, utilities already know they must change, adapt, innovate to claim a place at the heart of energy provision in the 21st Century and beyond. I’ve previously written about how a shift to a data-driven approach is one of the three key enablers that utilities need to secure their future.

How You Answer These Questions Will Determine Your Future

Who will be your new competitors? What will customers want from you? What new lines of business are likely to be successful? What new regulation is coming your way and how will it affect your strategy?

Any and all of these questions can be answered by any method you like. Gut feel sometimes works.

Anecdotal evidence-based opinions seem to have kept some businesses ticking along in the past. The ever-popular HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) can be pretty good at times. After all, if these methods really didn’t work at all, an awful lot of senior people would be out of a job by now.

But times have changed. In the traditional, slow-moving, often government-funded, monopoly utility market, strategy-by-gut-feel (or being generous, let’s call it strategy by years of experience) was pretty much OK.

Things didn’t change too much, so gut feel / experience often led to decisions to do the same as we did last year…last decade….last century. And it worked. Plus, who was really counting the effectiveness of every last cent anyway, right?

Today though, Tesla is stealing your business. Not metaphorically. Literally, in real-life. You can’t just do what you always did before. It’s losing you money.

Now is the time to embrace the data available to you and the analytics you can perform on it. Enedis (formerly ERDF) are doing it already. Like them, take the opportunity to understand your customers like never before; maintain and operate your assets at peak efficiency; plan your new business ventures with a solid foundation of data and information.

How will you face down the opportunities and challenges of the Internet of Things, which is already delivering rich new sources of data and rich new business opportunities?

If today’s utility wants to be a part of tomorrow’s energy landscape, one thing is certain: the future of energy is all in the data.