Stephan Zech: Data Analytics for Utilities

With advanced analytics, utilities can combine data from connected devices and more traditional sources to improve service and reduce costs. Stephan Zech, a partner with Bain's Utilities practice, discusses how utilities already have the tools to tap into a gold mine of opportunities to create value.

Read the Bain Brief: How Utilities Are Deploying Data Analytics Now

Read the transcript below.

STEPHAN ZECH: Utilities in particular are sitting on a real gold mine of opportunity when it comes to data analytics. As they take existing data from their conventional sources and combine it with new information flowing from smart meters and from other connected devices, they have a real opportunity to improve reliability, reduce cost and enhance the customer experience.

One way an American utility is taking advantage of this new capability is to dramatically improve how they manage unplanned outages. They take data from their smart meters, they take data from GPS devices on the trucks, weather stations and a number of other data sources; [they] combined that, and developed an algorithm that is far more accurate in predicting the restoration time of an outage, which improves the information that they end up sharing with their customer. And they're far more confident in that number today than they were before.

And what's interesting about this is, a lot of these opportunities can be pursued today with existing data, with off-the-shelf tools that are relatively inexpensive. It does not require big investment today to get some of these business results in the near term.

Some utilities in North America are developing capabilities in-house by creating centers of excellence where they bring together the data scientists with the experts from the business to both identify and then prioritize these use-cases; find a few quick wins that they can get going and launch quickly; drive results early; gain momentum; improve the concept; and then expand that capability throughout the business. Ultimately, to mature this capability fully will take a number of years, but the benefits are sizable in improved reliability, millions of dollars in savings, as well as an enhanced customer experience.

Read the Bain Brief: How Utilities Are Deploying Data Analytics Now