Utilities industry desperately needs Business Intelligence: IDC Study

Research firm, IDC, has released a new research study – Business Strategy: Ready for the Dip…Err…Plunge? Utility Business Analytics – that reveals the critical need for the utility industry to implement Business Intelligence (BI) solutions to support automation processes, make better capital investment decisions, and empower customers to manage their energy lifestyles.

According to the study, the utility industry is expected to be one of the fastest-growing industries in adopting business analytics technology in the next few years.

Business Intelligence for utilities: Improving operations, customer satisfaction and decision-making

The study details how utilities can efficiently leverage business analytics in both the near and long term to improve operations, increase customer satisfaction, and continuously optimize business decisions.

Need for Business Intelligence driven by growing data volumes and types

“In addition to increased quantities of data, utilities must deal with an increasingly diverse set of data from a variety of new sources,” said Jill Feblowitz, Vice President, IDC Energy Insights.

“Sources can include real-time data from external resources such as weather, traffic, and geospatial information. The data can also come from more unstructured resources, such as social media. Integrating and leveraging these sources of data to make critical, real-time business decisions will require more advanced business analytics applications,” she said.

“Today’s utilities can certainly still benefit from more basic business analytics, such as dashboards, but with the rapidly evolving industry, they also need to plan for more sophisticated systems that will enable them to continuously optimize their business decisions using near-real-time data.”

Business Intelligence to improve customer decision-making too

The report said that the utilities sector can improve customer satisfaction and retention rates by applying reporting and analytics to better understand customer needs. The study states that by using BI to combine and report on smart meter, bill payment, and demographics data, utilities providers can improve customer service functions, including better access to billing information and solutions, more sensitive credit collections, and more effective marketing communications.

The IDC even flagged the possibility that utilities providers could soon give customers access to the benefits of BI, empowering consumers to forecast and manage their energy and water bills, as well as manage energy devices such as electric vehicles, smart appliances, and home energy management systems.

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