With less than a year to go for data to start pouring into your systems, smart metering will completely change the ways in which you work. You will soon have to stop focusing on smart metering as a compliance programme and, instead, think of exploiting the data gained from smart meters to achieve real competitive advantage.

The benefits of smart metering to you as a DNO might be less obvious than it is to retailers, though it should be central to overall business strategy. In countries such as Finland, Italy and Sweden, DNOs are already reporting the advantages of smart metering deployment; from a far greater visibility of power consumption patterns to a clearer view of peaks in demand, line losses and much more. For example, being able to identify and locate any power outages leads to immense improvements in customer service, with DNOs now able to detect problems before receiving customer calls.

With this in mind, in addition to investing in better analytics to make sense of and respond well to vast amounts of customer data, you should look at a number of other key areas, including:

  1. Social strategy, and other aspects of customer data and relationship management DNOs, like retailers, must connect with customers in the most efficient way, particularly when it comes to updates on forthcoming outages. You should know the preferred communication channels of individuals in order to be able to implement the most intelligent and responsive customer relationship management techniques.
  2. Data handling, processing, compliance and security Smart meters will bring a step-change in your volume of interactions with the outside world, which will open up lots of security challenges. Cyberterrorism, and public awareness of it, clearly makes security one of your most important business considerations.
  3. Asset management with associated maintenance work management, including network planning and investment planning In the longer term, using smart metering data will mean far more efficient investments, with strategic targeting of stressed assets through industry-level coordination. As the smart meter rollout is extended, it will result in bigger sample sizes, better data and more sophisticated analytics – giving you the ability to plan, invest and operate far more effectively than ever before. An enhanced asset management capability also means more focused research and development, better evaluation of asset pilots based upon their impact on your grid and, thus, better investment decisions through the data available from smart meters.
  4. Aligning the operating model to exploit the extra data strategically To realise the opportunities of smart metering, there is a need to make vital changes to the operating model, culture, processes and ways of working in the business, as well as the systems. How successfully these changes are managed will be a key determinant of a business’ ability to turn smart metering technology to an advantage. 

Firstly, processes need to be adapted to work with data from both traditional and smart meter dominated areas of the network. Secondly, key organisational capabilities like schedule and dispatch or grid control should be enhanced to take advantage of greater network visibility. Lastly, as smart meter coverage increases towards saturation point in some areas, the data can be used alongside smart grid technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) to move towards automated asset control.

At present, the reality is that the smart world exists concurrently with the traditional one, but as the number of devices that connect to the IoT increases exponentially, the smart world will gradually gain dominance. It is key for you to understand how to succesfully transition to smart grid technologies, or they’ll undergo decline themselves. In Summary…We believe DNOS need to act BEFORE Smart becomes a large proportion of their operating universe. Act early – gain the advantage. Capgemini is already beginning to help the early movers, do not be left behind.

See us at European Utility Week 2016 in Barcelona on 15-17 November. Find out more at: https://www.capgemini.com/events/european-utility-week-2016