Information Overload A Major Utility Issue Too

You hear a lot about information overload these days.  We are bombarded by information; news, advertisements, music, noise, it’s everywhere.  Mankind’s common knowledge base is expanding exponentially, though there is some question whether wisdom is keeping up.

sheffield_information_overload

Utilities face the same problem.  With the advent of a host of computerized systems–automatic meter reading just being the latest–utility personnel now are drowning in data and information.  Of course, a lot of that data is just going into storage which is an expensive waste of servers as well as opportunity.

 

If utilities of all size would embrace advanced analytics, they would be able to mine all that data–that information overload–for nuggets of information that would enable them to deal with the rapidly changing utility environment.  The information overload isn’t going away, it’s time to deal with it.

–Warren B. Causey

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Big Data Will Create Millions of Jobs in the Next Two Years

As you are aware, governments, companies, and other organizations are increasingly recognising the value of Big Data.  For example, health organizations use data to manage hospitals and provide better patient care, and businesses use data to better understand their customers.  As such, it may not be surprising to learn that a study from Gartner states that Big Data will create close to 4.5 million jobs by the year 2015. With that said, unfortunately only just one-third of these positions will be filled by qualified applicants.  Fortunately though, as more user friendly interfaces are being developed to make data analysis more accessible, more people will become interested in this exciting field.

Job Opportunity Calssified

 

What Industries Will Be Hiring?

Some of the sectors that will require qualified individuals include the health care, retail, and manufacturing sectors.  After all, studies show that these organizations can profit considerably if these industries can effectively make sense of their data.

 

What Types of Jobs Will be Available?

Some of the positions that will be available include:

  • IT jobs – require people who can support the computer hardware and software involved with big data.
  • Analytical jobs – require people with analytical and statistical knowledge
  • Managerial jobs – require people who can use the data to make efficient business decisions.

 

 

How Can Schools Prepare People for a Career in Data Analysis?

Schools can offer more courses in statistics and data analysis – as well as offer more practical hands-on training.  Universities can also become better at sharing resources and can better work at developing relationships with companies.  In turn, students will be prepared for the workforce as their courses incorporate more real-world business data and relevant examples.

 

Overall, the future in Big Data and data analysis is promising, and forward-thinking individuals should seriously consider a career in this growing field.

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Renewable Energy Definitely Needs Analyzing

It seems that the Obama administration, through the EPA, is determined to basically drive coal out of the mix for electricity generation in the U.S.  The latest EPA rules allow the building of new coal-fired plants if they meet certain emission standards.  Those standards are impossible with currently available technology.  How’s that for a Catch 22?

"Klimakiller" Braunkohle erlebt Renaissance

With natural gas picking up some of the slack, the question is how long before the EPA finds gas emissions too high?  Obviously this administration is determined to push wind and solar, exclusive of much else.  The major question is will it work?  Already Germany is finding it isn’t working real well and they have been ahead of the U.S. in acquiring and implementing renewable energy sources.  As could have been expected, renewable energy isn’t available when it is needed and coal and gas are left having to pick up the slack there.  You can read about the German problems in an English translation of Germany’s highly respected Der Spiegel magazine here.

 

Fortunately, advanced analytics will enable U.S. utilities to track what is working, what isn’t, and by what margins.  Whether that will be enough is doubtful, but bringing the best tools to the issue will help.

–Warren B. Causey

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Retaining Customer Loyalty in a Cutthroat Market: Securing Your Customers at a Time When It’s Every Man for Himself

The current retail market resembles a landscape from the Mad Max movies; everywhere you turn, there’s some new threat, whether it’s a market-leader tightening their grip, or some young upstart—aggressive but short-lived—trying to steal your niche.  The hasty advancement of technology combines with recession-conscious spending to cause every retailer to lose their footing.  But now more than ever, retailers must stand firm, adapt their practices, and defend what they’ve spent years building.

thunderdome

Tina Turner has always played a role in the retail industry

In recent years, the power is shifting to the hands of the consumers.  Social media has lent a megaphone to the voice of the customer.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter remind us of the old adage, “Do something right, the customer tells three friends, do something wrong, they tell ten.”  Reputations ebb and flow based on what your patrons are saying online about their shopping experience with your store.  And whether consciously or not, the general public is realizing their advantage by altering their purchasing habits.

 

Today’s shoppers are less likely to fall for gimmicks or accept bad deals.  If they have even an inkling that they’re getting cheated, they’ll flee; they know a better deal can be found by pushing a few buttons.  Any retailer that’s dead-set on sticking to their traditional strategies will find their customers slipping through their fingers.  The time has come to show humility and allow the customer to be king.

 

That means stepping up customer service.  Because shoppers have less money for discretionary spending, they are going to make the most out of what cash they have.  When they visit a store, they expect a pleasant experience—anything less will lose their business.  They are expecting the retailer to go the extra mile for the customer, and if it doesn’t, they’ll find one that will.

 

But there is another side to this coin.  If a store manages to give the customer what they want—a good deal with good service culminating in a good experience—then the customer will recognize and remember the effort.  A retailer’s hard work in providing the desired shopping atmosphere will be rewarded with their customer’s loyalty, a prize whose value grows higher as the competition intensifies.

 

And what does customer loyalty mean?  For one, it means that as a retailer, you’ve done your job.  You’re happy, your customer’s happy; they have the product they want and you’ve made some money.  But there’s more to it than that.  If you’ve set up the avenues for them, your customer may Like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or even just mention online how happy they are with you.  That’s free advertising, any way you cut it.

 

But the real trophy of customer loyalty is repeat patronage.  Not every shopper wants to be continually searching and comparing pricing.  If you’ve proven to them that you can satisfy their shopping needs, the next time they need to buy something, they’ll think of you.  Customer loyalty is the gift that keeps on giving, even (or especially) in a dark economic times.  Isn’t that worth fighting for?

 

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U.S. Electrical Grid Still Very Vulnerable To Cyber Attack

There is an excellent article concerning the vulnerability of the U.S. electric grid to cyber-attack, especially from Iran, on Utility Dive; it’s available here.  The article quotes Joe Weiss, a well known utility expert who previously worked with EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) and other organizations.

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Weiss maintains something I have been told by many other utility experts that the NERC-CIP regulations are a paperwork exercise that actually do very little to protect the grid from hacking.  Weiss says Iran has the capability–and it may have the inclination one day–to hack into the U.S. grid’s control systems and create cascading failures to bring the grid down.  That’s the same thing I was being told by utility experts when at one point I was co-hosting a webcast series on NERC-CIP.

 

Yes, utilities have made strides in making the grid more resistant to hacking.  However, Weiss says, and many other experts I have spoken with agree, that grid security is nowhere near where it should be.  In fact, it may be virtually impossible to secure it thoroughly from cyber attack.  Further, look around you at how many substations sit is unguarded areas, vulnerable to physical attack.

 

Grid security is an area to which advanced analytics should be applied thoroughly and immediately.  There are just too many vulnerabilities that probably haven’t even been catalogued as yet.  This is an area crying out for advanced analytical work on a nationwide basis.

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Webinar: Developing a Cost-Effective Analytics Roadmap for the Healthcare Industry

Join us for our next Webinar: Developing a Cost-Effective Analytics Roadmap for the Healthcare Industry

Thursday, October 10th 2013, 1pm

The healthcare industry has been overrun by a slew 0f big data, and also some new regulations, in the past few years, so much so that it’s become an overwhelming burden just to keep up.  Much of that data is being stored in data warehouses; or even worse, filing cabinets; where it can end up sitting until it becomes little more than dusty history.  What the healthcare industry needs is an analytics roadmap which will allow them use these critical data to improve hospital management, reduce overall costs, monitor patient care, and also prepare them for the future.

 

See what your KPIs could look like in business intelligence dashboards!

See what your KPIs could look like in business intelligence dashboards!

This webinar will show healthcare industry personnel how to:

  • Determine what is most important now for their hospital or practice
  • How to put together a roadmap which will highlight these important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • How to put that roadmap to use in order to map out the future of your enterprise

Schedule:

  • There will be a 30-minute overview of BI and how an analytics roadmap is developed, as well as a demonstration of the BI@S Healthcare KPI Tool and some examples of interactive dashboards.
  • 30 minutes of questions from health care industry professionals to help guide them in actually developing the first steps of an analytics roadmap during the webinar.  Questions during this period will be taken only from healthcare professionals, not from vendor representatives!

Speakers:

 

  • Jay Stanell, Process & Metrics Specialist for BI@S
  • Dan Pirato, Customer Engineer for BI@S
  • Paul Grabham, CEO of BI@S

This webinar is the first in our series for Analytics in the Healthcare Industry.

Register here for our next Webinar!

Register here for our next Webinar!

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New Cars An Example of Analytics In Action

It’s that time of madness every year when automakers launch their 2014 versions and offer “deals” on unsold new 2013 models.  That the industry remains reasonably healthy is a testament to people’s fascination with cars and style rather than with necessity.  No one really needs a new car every few years these days because they have been much better-made and longer-lasting for many years now.

 

Those of us my age (I won’t give it to you but will tell you that my first car–and it was more than 10 years old–was a 1949 Plymouth) remember when things were different.  That Plymouth burned a lot of oil along with the gasoline, and the clutch was just about gone when I was done with it.  It had less than 100,000 miles on it and it was pretty much used up before I even got to it.  I was still in high school when I bought it with my own money from working after school.  It lasted me less than a year and died a natural death from major engine failure.

 

W. Edwards Deming

W. Edwards Deming

The point of that those comments is that auto manufacturers, led by the analytics-based W. Edwards Deming Total Quality Management (TQM) movement of the 1980s and 1990s, now build cars that last a lot longer than when I was young.  Then, 100,000 miles was about the maximum you could get out of a car and the vast majority of them didn’t make it that far.  Today, vehicles that go multiple hundreds of thousands of miles quite easily are very common.  My son tells me of a fellow he knows who got 1 million miles from a truck and I have a nephew who has a Ford Ranger with more than 500,000 miles on it and he still uses it every day.  All brands of vehicles are much better today than they were when I was young and advanced analytics–done by hand under Deming’s TQM program, but now computerized–are a major reason.

 

Automobiles are one area where manufacturers have increased the quality of their products so much I’m sure it hurts their overall sales.  But they still do O.K., because there still are many people out there who just have to see (and often buy) the latest model.  They may look different on the outside–style is important to so many people these days–but they’re very similar underneath, solid and long-lasting.  Credit that to early advanced analytics.

–Warren B. Causey

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