The second Big Picture Session we attended today was “Don’t Show Me Big Data, Show Me the Right Data.” The session was moderated by Jill Feblowitz, vice president, IDC Energy Insights and the industry expert panelists included, Brent Williams, director analytics, Black & Veatch, Todd Inlander, chief information officer, Southern California Edison, Tal Centers, vice president, safety and gas system integrity, CenterPoint Energy, Lauren Preston, director customer service, DC Water.

Ever since Google started showing us what we can do with analytics, we have seen an uptick in data collection across all different industries, as seen in the 2011 hit movie, Moneyball. In this session, the participants provided us with great insight into some of the most interesting things currently happening with big data including improved customer service, revenue protection and operational efficiency.

Utilities are in a unique position with a new influx of data. As they become better prepared with how to deal with the increasing amount, there still remain questions of what to do with it. As Tal Centers highlighted, “The biggest challenge for utilities is translating data into knowledge.”

With a large number of the utility workforce are retiring soon, utilities will need to look to the younger workforce to implement new strategies. In the near future, data will need to start predicting what will happen in the future so organizations will be forced to structure themselves differently. There will likely be a need for more people focused solely on analytics to become embedded into everyday operations.

As we move forward, utilities will need to examine how to integrate data seamlessly, build analytics around it and incorporate it from the many different sources. This will help to make sure customers are getting the data that they need when they need it as well as ensuring that they are not receiving data that isn’t relevant to them.