Data Integration and Management for Utilities: The Whats and Whys

by Keith Brody Jul 17, 2017

In the first blog in this series written for utilities, we wrote about the importance of leveraging data to the success of Internet of Things (IoT) and digital transformation strategies and we established that deploying the right technology in this area of business was a vital component of digital success. In this second blog, we’ll look at what that technology provides; what does it need to do and what are the features and functions that you want to look out for when acquiring and implementing it?

In very basic terms, a data integration and management application (or layer) sits between your network (ideally, as close to its edge as possible) and the applications that sit on top of it, those you use to manage your business. These might include your systems for billing, customer relationship management, analytics, network performance optimisation, meter management, and a great many others. The latter group requires information from the former in order to perform effectively (for instance, a billing system can’t generate a bill without information relating to the customer’s activities on your network) so it stands to reason that the better the quality of that information and the faster you get it, the better in general the performance of your company. Put another way, there’s no point building a Ferrari and then trying to run it on 3-star diesel.

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What then, to continue the motoring metaphor, is “under the hood” of a Data Integration and Management application? What should you expect it to do? How should you expect it to work? What value will you accrue from using it? Here is checklist of features and functions that you should consider table stakes in how you can use data to drive your business to digital success. 

  • The collection of data in any format or type from any source in your network (grid, smart meter, orvotherwise).
  • Enrichment of usage data from any additional external database or application.
  • The Guiding of usage data to accounts with product reference and account information from any source.
  • Assignment of amounts or values to the usage if that is desirable/appropriate.
  • Auditing and reporting of data-related processing.
  • Ensuring no duplicate usage is processed.
  • Correlation, consolidation and aggregation of usage of different types from any source, based on configurable criteria.
  • Automation of collection and distribution of data.
  • Data Normalization.
  • Consolidation of multiple data integration platforms and or other applications.
  • Vendor Independence, in so far as the user requires it
  • Data quality and governance
  • Future proofing

Four other characteristics are particularly important too.

  • The ability to leverage data via either Batch or Real-time processingas required by your business.
  • Quick to implement/easy to configure meaning the ability to dynamically support and even drive you ability to respond to changing market conditions or even (see the next blog in this series) changes in the weather!
  • Support for complex data needs — Analytics always benefits from as much data as can be delivered. MediationZone offers the capability to collect and process complex data types, even binary machine logs via simple configuration.
  • Future-proofing— Your business will likely expad over time to include more data sources which often brings complicated data collection into the enterprise analytics project scope.

In the first two blogs of this series, we’ve looked at how changing market landscapes are driving the importance of data integration and management technologies and what those technologies look like. Keep reading. In the next two blogs we’ll examine the potential impact made by the things we’ve talked about so far: the technology in action at two different, leading utility service provider businesses.

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Topics: DigitalRoute, IoT, European Utility Week, Utilities, Utility, EUW, EUW 2017

Keith Brody


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