Utility organisations without a smart metering process in place battle to analyse trends and deliver useful information to customers.

This is one of the findings from Oracle’s “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities: Plans and Preparedness for the Data Deluge” research report, which surveyed 151 North American senior-level executives at utilities with smart meter programs in place.

The survey aimed to gauge perceptions on the business impact of “big data”; utilities’ preparedness to handle data growth; and their plans to extract optimal business value from this data to better target, engage with and serve customers.

As smart grid deployments are creating exponentially more data, the utilities surveyed for this study have increased their meter data collection frequency by an average of 180-times and have access to new types of information.

The survey found that utilities with smart meter programs in place say they are somewhat prepared to manage the data deluge, rating themselves a 6,7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

However, 45% of responding utilities still struggle to report information to business managers as fast as they need it, and 50% report that they miss opportunities to deliver useful information to customers.

Smart meters deliver an unprecedented stream of critical business information, such as outage (78%), voltage (73%), tampering (63%) and diagnostic (56%) data, which can help improve operations and customer satisfaction.

Utilities see a need to improve their ability to translate information into actionable intelligence and leverage data for strategic decision-making. Sixty-four percent say it is one of their top three priorities.

Meter Data Management (MDM) systems may provide help with 70% of those utilities with an MDM system in place saying they are prepared to successfully manage the data influx versus just 51% of those without.

In the next five years, utilities plan to leverage smart grid data to improve customer service through efforts such as delivering demand response programs, forecasting demands, complying with regulatory requirements and minimizing outages.

“Smart grid deployments are creating exponentially more data for utilities and giving them access to information they have never had before. Oracle’s ‘Big Data, Bigger Opportunities’ report indicates that a vast majority of utility executives are working to enhance their ability to glean real intelligence from smart grid data – to ultimately create new opportunities to improve service reliability and deliver useful information to customers. Utilities can benefit from establishing enterprise information strategies, and investing in the systems and people needed to make better business decisions,” says Rodger Smith, senior vice-president and GM of Oracle Utilities.