3 Ways to Utilize Big Data in the Energy Market
Big Data is everywhere. Those of us who are in the tech industry have been dealing with the Big Data trend for about a decade, but now the rest of the world is catching up, making “Big Data” the big kahuna of buzzwords.
The rising star of the Big Data trend is the energy market, which is increasingly important with the charge for energy independence and increased use of renewable energy. Businesses are working to find new ways to collect, analyze and utilize data for many reasons: customer behavior, workflow management, resource usage and more. It goes to the highest level: Last month the Obama administration announced $200 million in federal funding for six agencies to utilize Big Data for various projects. One agency, the Department of Energy, will receive $25 million to run, among other programs, a study of how to improve energy usage and more by harnessing the power of Big Data.
This got me thinking: Those who jump on the Big Data bandwagon will gain competitive advantage if they use this data correctly. In energy, this brings new opportunities for companies to use data to explore methods to curb their costs and use of energy. Energy providers can use data to drive strategic decisions for their customers. This also creates huge opportunities for those of us in the tech industry to provide solutions for this market, which is expected to reach $23.4 billion in IT spend this year.
Here are three utilizations of Big Data within Energy:
- Power Management: Utility companies, with the right technology, can now locate outages and manage and monitor the grid from a central location. This takes incredible server power and storage capability. I recently learned about sensor systems called synchophasers that monitor the health of power lines in real time, collecting and crunching data by the second. With more utility companies opting to install these synchophasers, the need for systems to handle this data is enormous. Don’t miss the boat on this one.
- Hadoop : Open source tool Hadoop seems to be everywhere these days. For those not familiar, Hadoop is a framework that allows for processing of large unstructured data sets across clusters of computers. Once a stalwart of the computing world, Hadoop is starting to make a foray into the energy circuit. It’s capable of handling massive data streams, and many companies are putting it to good use doing just that. It’s especially effective for energy companies, which receive various blocks of data from multiple sources. For example, meters are being read an average of 96 times a day, so these companies must have sufficient storage for all this data and the ability to number crunch in a quick and effective manner.
- Mobile Usage Data: Mobile phones and other handheld devices are a normal part of our day-to-day and companies that are utilizing the data these devices provide are way ahead of the game. Utilities customers expect to use their mobile phones to pay bills, check on billing/account information and interact with their utility via social media to, say, check outages in their area via Twitter or Facebook, for example. As we learn more about this data, patterns on how we interact with the infrastructure, consume energy and more become apparent. Companies can use this to respond with products and services that cater to our usage patterns, lessen our impact on the planet and provide better service to their customers. Utility companies are also benefiting from remote metering and mobile usage in their own workforces, further taking cost out of operations and improving efficiency.
So, yes, Big Data is everywhere. And proper analytics are key to determining how it can be used to help customers. There are multiple ways and tools with which this can be done. A services assessment looking at data center optimization and storage management is a good starting point. It’s our job as technology professionals to help our customers collect, store, protect, archive, transfer and analyze their data using the most up-to-date tools and technologies out there. Avnet’s partnerships with leading suppliers — IBM, HP, Cisco Systems and Oracle, to name a few — allows us to be poised and ready with solutions that go beyond the traditional databases and tools. Give us a call, we can help.
Gavin Miller is VP of Marketing, Solutions and Sales Acceleration at Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship. Read all of Avnet’s guest blogs here.