Leveraging the Internet of Things for Always-On Utility Companies

By Jerry Dolinsky, Verisae Inc.

In the future, almost every piece of hardware a company owns will be connected. According to a recent Gartner Research report, “Predicts 2015: The Internet of Things,” within six months, 4.9 billion things will digitally connect, meaning that every piece of hardware, every sensor, every utility and every person sending out data must work together.

The perks are clear: the Internet of Things (IoT) movement simplifies the complicated process of gathering, analyzing and understanding data, giving companies more insight into their operations than ever before.

With all the data being produced by individual devices, businesses will be challenged to make sense of it all. They will need to acquire, normalize and correlate data from as many relevant sources as possible and then present targeted, actionable results that offer meaningful insight for business success.

How can always-on companies like utility providers and service organizations ensure that all their information will be properly aggregated, digested and used? Always-on companies are constantly listening, predicting, planning and improving. Service companies, including utilities, must change their business models if they are to embrace and leverage the IoT.

Utility providers must run a more proactive model that does more than react to broken systems. They must proactively monitor for issues and then take action before those issues lead to breakdowns.

Predicting Can Pay Off

In recent years, many utility providers implemented grid management systems that not only monitor the grid but also predict and prevent electric outages. What most have yet to do is combine that information with information about historical and existing workload data, as well as resource availability to better plan and organize the workforce. For example, predictive insights incorporated with workforce management systems can predict the number of field technicians required on a given day or a shift. They can even control the mobilization of crews based on geographic location to a nearby predicted outage.

Incorporating the existing monitoring and predictive technology with a flexible workforce management system enhances the entire service supply chain. The service model is ever changing and it continues to evolve, therefore, companies can no longer rely on reactive service models. The time has come for these organizations to not only better predict outages but to increase interoperability across the various technological platforms used to monitor, analyze, manage and act on asset and electrical performance.

Real-time Reaction for Service Success

Predictive maintenance is only one piece of the IoT service puzzle; the ability to react in real-time to critical infrastructure issues through an interconnected workforce is transforming the service model for utilities.

Not only is real-time insight into asset performance critical to service success, it also improves the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI) and accurately predicts restoration time. This frequently leads to significant payback, increased public safety and happier customers.

Always-on companies are pushing the limits and adjusting to customers’ changing view of service. The IoT is the linchpin to success for utility and service providers striving for best-in-class, always-on operations.

Jerry Dolinsky is Verisae Inc.’s CEO and president. He has more than 25 years of software industry experience. Prior to joining Verisae, Jerry served as Retek’s executive vice president of worldwide field operations. Reach him at 612-455-2300.


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