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Although utilities are slightly more prepared for an influx of smart grid data compared to last year, many still struggle to fully leverage the data collected, according to a new study from Oracle. The company says significant potential still exists to use this information to drive customer service and operational improvements for business value.

The report, titled "Utilities and Big Data: Accelerating the Drive to Value," surveyed 151 North American senior-level utility executives with smart meter programs. According to Oracle, key findings include the following:

Preparedness increasing, but still lagging: Seventeen percent of respondents said they are completely prepared to manage the smart grid data deluge, up from 9% in 2012. However, the majority still say they are underprepared. Utilities report slight improvements in information sharing and using information for strategic decision making.

Opportunity to improve customer service: The report says more than half of utilities today use smart grid data to provide alerts or make other direct customer service improvements.

Big data skills gap:
Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said they have a big data skills gap - including those who say they are prepared for the smart grid data influx.

Potential in the cloud: While two out of three utilities are considering cloud-based solutions for smart grid/smart meter data management and analysis, only 26% are actually planning, implementing or maintaining a cloud solution today.

Utilities believe in analytics: Seventy percent of utilities said they expect predictive analytics to improve revenue protection, and 61% said they expect it to reduce asset maintenance costs.

“The most progressive utilities are transforming themselves now into data-driven businesses to accelerate the opportunities big data and analytics can bring to improving customer service and operational efficiencies,” says Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Utilities.



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