How IoT & big data are giving the energy sector a power boost

The energy sector has always embraced technology advancements to grow and evolve to meet the demands of the future.

This is especially true today as the industry is facing enormous challenges; from policy changes in response to environmental concerns to reduce emissions, to increased demand caused by economic and population growth.

However, one of the most immediate pressures energy companies are facing is to provide cheaper, more competitive prices. They are looking towards technology and applying analytics to IoT data to respond to these demands.

As a recruiter in both the energy and tech industries for over nine years, I have always respected the energy sector’s commitment to sourcing top tech talent. This is very much the case today as the industry is looking towards top tech professionals with the skills to help them make this transition.

Utility companies typically deal with large, multiple data sets and face real-time challenges. So, while the Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a buzz in other industries, this concept is not new for energy companies.

Energy providers have begun to realise that they need to get the most value out of their data as possible. The best way to do this is by using analytics to unlock key insights from that data. Companies also have the opportunity to harness new data sources from devices such as smart meters, submeters and distributed energy sources. However, many organisations do not have the analytics tools, skills or talent they need to unlock the insights to make their data work harder.

The volume of data is huge. It’s not a stream of data, it’s a river.

Applying analytics to IoT data allows companies to reshape their business models. They can forecast future supply, demand and prices, group customers based on behaviour and preferences. They can also identify how to effectively reduce consumption. Those analytics can then translate into actions.

But while utility managers recognise the importance of analytics, it’s clear that implementing a programme of analytics is far from simple.

According to a survey by measurement and analytics company ABB, the biggest challenge to the implementation of analytics projects is not budget constraints. Instead, the main hurdles companies are facing are data availability (23%), access to skilled staff (19%), and the lack of a centralised location for data storage (19%). Just 13% cited a lack of budget as their main challenge.

Energy companies looking to digitally transform their organisations might need to change up their game plan. Transformative digital goals need to be aligned with company strategy so that key organisational divisions including governance, technology, infrastructure, skills, culture, talent and operations are all committed to supporting these objectives. The solution does not lie in a single project, adopting IoT analytics should be an overriding priority of the entire company.

It’s also up to analytics vendors to ensure that their tools are fully aligned with energy clients’ needs to overcome their specific hurdles.

But big data analytics success relies on more than just the technology it also needs the right people for the job. Analytics professionals are in high demand and utility companies are looking to embrace the tools and the talent they need to make big data analytics an operational and strategic priority.

The future of the energy sector belongs to tech. As a recruiter in this space, I have seen a very noticeable rise in demand for analytics professionals in this area.