Today’s utility landscape is changing and the challenges of distributed generation, microgrids and performance-based rate making are creating the need for more complex data—which smart grid devices are collecting. What you do with that data is the difference between dying as a utility of the past and meeting the efficiency goals that the market and regulations will demand for a utility of the future.Big Data, What’s the Big Deal?
Analytics is not a new concept. Using data to drive our actions, like using Key Performance Indicators to improve business performance, is a common objective. As they say, “what gets measured gets done.” What’s changing is the timeframe for receiving information back, and the amazing quantity of information that is coming back.
Data is being created at such a rapid rate today. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the data in the world has been created in the last two years. This data comes from everywhere within the energy and utilities industry. It should not come as a surprise that utilities are increasing the quantity and volume of measured events. A utility with 100,000 meters that offer 15-minute intervals for data collection translates to 111 data points per second, captured and stored, for just a single channel of data from the meters. Add 25-30 data points per second taken for switches, reclosers, capacitors, line regulators, sensors and automated substations. This scenario accumulates around 4.5-15 billion data points per year for a utility with 100,000 meters. That’s big data.
As new systems are put in place, the series of questions relating to data becomes:
These questions then lead to additional planning, legal, and governance questions. How much of this information needs to be stored and for how long? What is the utility’s data governance model? What is a utility’s data privacy and security strategy?
West Monroe Partners' Advanced Analytics practice recommends taking a fresh strategic approach to data planning rather than an incremental approach. The underlying concept of the smart grid transformation is that the processes and infrastructure used for managing the grid in the 20th century are not suited for managing the grid in the 21st century. A new data strategy is needed.
How do you get started?
The first thing needed is a framework, technology roadmap, purpose, and data governance. Start with a modest plan. What can you measure that will help you? Set it up. Measure it. Automate data collection. Automate reporting or actions. Don’t think of data as a destination with a final conclusion. Think of it as a continual service improvement journey. Think it, prove it, learn from it, refine it, and then expand it. Repeat.
Today’s smart utilities and smart cities face similar challenges; increasing global competition, economic uncertainties, financial pressures, environmental sustainability concerns, aging infrastructure and changing regulatory requirements. The smart utility and smart city have to address these challenges aggressively; to operate efficiently in this perplexing and constantly shifting environment.
Smart utilities and smart cities are discovering new ways to add these efficiencies by leveraging data analytics and asset management tools, implementing sustainable business practices, establishing new public-private partnerships and optimizing key work flows and new business models.
What does “Smart” mean?
Utility leadership challenges are increasing daily. New regulations are challenging legacy practices and business models. Increasing customer expectations are raising the bar on performance. Technology choices and integration are more complex. Both workforce and assets are aging. Stakeholder concerns impact environmental, community, and economic decisions. Executives need to stay current, focused on opportunities and combating challenges in the face of change.Through the uncommon blend of business consultants and deep technologists, West Monroe Partners offers innovative and tailored initiatives that address a wide array of these executive concerns. Our solutions are practical and build on the strategies and unique regulatory environments of today’s utilities. We contribute to the success of utilities in the following areas where we continue to push the envelope on relevant and sustainable solutions:
We are truly living in challenging times in the utility industry. West Monroe’s experienced team includes former executives, deep technologists, and industry thought leaders. We offer sound advice and bring proven tools and solutions to bear on your most pressing strategic concerns. We help you develop a new and innovative perspective, a swift and collaborative response, and a response for your unique situation.
Changing regulatory, financial, and business needs directly impact corporate development initiatives. Utility Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activities today are complex and occurring for different reasons. Are you looking to:
Carve outs and integration pose significant challenges, with firms struggling to capture the benefits that drove the deal in the first place. Monetizing synergies and true post-merger integration can be derailed by overlooked details. Utility firms also need to prioritize the customer experience and operations. Managing your customers through the integration, maintaining positive stakeholder relations, and successfully integrating acquired systems and customers are critical success measures.
Our Mergers & Acquisitions practice supports a corporate development strategy and delivers planned synergies through integration planning and execution, operational improvements, new technology platform rationalizations, and overall business transformation - utilizing our proven M&A playbook and Integration Management Office (IMO) methodologies that have been honed on over 700 transactions for more than 100 strategic buyers.Our services include:
West Monroe combines industry, operations, and technology expertise to help Energy & Utility firms navigate the specific complexities of M&A. Proven Strategy. Outstanding Delivery. Trusted Results. Contact us today to learn more!
The success or failure of an Energy & Utilities program, regardless of its size or scope, is often determined by how the program is managed. From our years of experience serving energy and utility clients, we have identified strong Program Management Office (PMO) practices and tools and remain committed to not only providing our clients with superior program and project management leadership, but also tactically applying our knowledge, industry experience, processes, skills, tools, and techniques to ensure program success.Our commitment in this area is further demonstrated through the consolidation of our program management methodology and tools into the West Monroe Partners “Program Management Center of Excellence.”
Our systems integration specialists are well versed in current and future systems design, documentation and requirements gathering. We also have in depth experience with a variety of the systems that are the focal points of utilities in these initiatives, including Meter Data Management (MDM), Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS), Outage Management System (OMS), Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS), Data Repository and Historians, and others.
For many of today’s utilities, aging telecommunication infrastructure and the advancement of grid modernization is forcing them to make massive telecommunication upgrades to maintain successful operation and maintenance of their grid. Numerous questions arise when approaching the upgrade of a utility’s telecommunications and security infrastructure along with many possible methodologies and technology solutions for getting it done. Creating a holistic view of the entire network with a telecommunication and security strategy roadmap is now a necessity to ensure success and meet business objectives.
We work with utilities to solve the challenges surrounding telecommunications infrastructure and security systems upgrade – from strategy, discovery, budgeting and design to implementation and training. Through the uncommon blend of business consultants and deep technologists, West Monroe has the experience to address any challenge that may arise and provide proven expertise to ensure success.
What is the best path for your utility?
Most utilities have traditionally treated customer service as a necessary evil to the “real” job of the organization: manage the assets to deliver reliable energy and water. Asset management programs use objective and quantifiable analytics that scale for tangible objects without feelings, and problem management is based on empirical results.
Customer service operations deal with people on both ends of the process (employees and customers), and with very few assets to manage, are often ignored from a return on investment perspective. These differences create natural barriers to success as utilities attempt to treat customer service in the same way they do assets.
West Monroe has developed a set of diagnostics and a holistic approach to the entire meter-to-cash process that provides utilities with a similar set of tools and insights to manage the dynamic customer relationship. Our Customer Experience practice views customer experience from the outside-in and executes customer-focused initiatives that drive engagement as well as top-line revenue.
Proven solutions can support your utility and your customers in this new journey
We provide a unique approach and collaborative initiatives to leverage your own momentum:
Capitalize on DER integration opportunities
West Monroe Partners developed Connect-the-Grid – a scalable, cloud-based resource for utilities that provides a step-by-step workflow for application approvals, acting as the master data source for DER assets. Connect-the-Grid is designed to be:
Connect-the-Grid provides utilities, municipalities, customers and contractors:
To learn more about Connect-the-Grid – or to request a personalized demo – please contact Sean Murphy.
Today’s utilities are experts in distributing electricity, but how proficient are they when it comes to managing and monitoring large data networks layered on top of the grid? These very networks that transport SCADA data, perform relay protection, isolate faults through distribution automation and read advanced meter infrastructure are now relied on to meet today’s grid reliability requirements. Smart grid telecommunications networks may have equal or greater device counts and availability requirements that far exceed that of the regional telecommunications carrier networks. Are you ready to manage and maintain a network that is that large, reliable and secure?
West Monroe Partners can help utilities manage these complex networks, the underlying processes and required capabilities that they are expected to deliver through a host of optimized offerings that include:
Whatever the level of complexity, you can be confident that you are working with a partner who understands where your concerns are. Talk to us about solutions that can save your utility money and improve services.