It is estimated that by the end of 2016, there will be 6.4 billion connected devices worldwide – a 30% increase from 2015 – with the number reaching 20.8 billion by 2020.

Data Analytics and Internet of Things are at the center of all of this phenomenon. IoT makes it possible to connect people, products and services to empower people to make decisions, and utilize assets efficiently. Following this trend, power and other utilities are also investing a lot in data analytics and IoT – to establish touch points in all operations and customer engagement and hence transform their age old business practices.

With the global focus on sustainability, technologies such as mobile, cloud, data analytics, IoT is becoming increasingly central to achieving the energy efficiency and water conservation goals.

Two critical areas in which data analytics and information technology can play a big role for the utilities are:

  • Day-to-day operational efficiency
  • Customer Engagement

Operational Efficiency

Large volumes of data has been mostly used in intelligent assets and metering and meter data management.  In the near future all customers will have smart meters to monitor power, gas and water consumption in real time.  At present, the use of smart meters is rudimentary, as they are primarily utilized for customer billing.  However, there is a treasure trove of information in this data that utilities can use to help themselves and their customers in many ways.

For example, the enormous amount of data and its analytics could help in changing consumer behavior by becoming a communication link between the meter and other devices, thus allowing the consumer to see usage in real time.

Thus IoT and data analytics can impact day-to-day key operations of a utility, increasing the ROI on infrastructure and enabling revenue realization.

Customer Engagement

As much as IoT will benefit a utility’s day-to-day operation, the biggest growth area is customer engagement.  Using data from smart meters and other grid connected devices, a number of use cases have emerged for the utility customers in the areas of energy consumption profiling, connected home, smart appliances, and electric vehicle management. Mobile apps and web portals have been the most effective way to deliver analytics to customers.

With the adoption of mobile software applications, the consumption patterns can be made readily available to them through mobile applications to instigate lifestyle and behavioral changes.

This type of engagement can further be made increasingly effective using big data analytics for customer segmentation. Using micro-segmentation, the customer interactions can be much more personalized, thereby increasing the engagement and response.

One of the US based start-up – Energy Savvy is working on this model. They collect the energy use data from millions of customers and then gain actionable insights for utilities to educate the customers about energy efficiency. Read more about this from here.

Therefore, increased customer loyalty can be achieved far more easily through the customer intelligence derived from data analytics.