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An IoT-Enabled Utilities Business – What It Means for People

The stage is set for the IoT business revolution. With IoT devices producing data and intelligence at the grid edge, normal business processes will change drastically. In this post, we talk about what this means for people, using the distribution utilities industry as an indicative use case.

What is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term used to describe objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data over networks with other IoT devices and systems.

To get a better understanding of what the future of IoT means for people in the utilities industry, let’s first look at the recent history of the deployment of the smart grid. Using that context, we will then discuss what is needed to push us towards this IoT paradigm shift – and the benefits it poses to distribution utilities.

The History of IoT in Utilities

For over a decade, the utilities industry has been rolling out what is known as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). AMI meters, also known as smart meters, have created one of the most notable and wide-ranging IoT use cases across all industries.

Smart meters are equipped with sensors and communications capabilities, creating vast amounts of data that can then be shared over a wide-ranging network of other interconnected meters and technologies known as a “smart grid.”

The smart grid holds promise for a complete digital transformation in the utilities industry that will unlock new levels of intelligent business operations, resource management, service delivery, and, ultimately, new streams of cost savings. You can read more about this transformation in this report from Gartner.

IoT Enabled Business – The Gap Between What’s Possible & What’s Achievable

Human interaction with software is traditionally necessary to start any process. With IoT, there is potential for the catalyst to not be human-initiated but rather sensor data initiated from a meter on the grid edge.

Today, we are in the nascent stages of IoT-enabled businesses. Flexibility is essential as new methods of doing business are theorized and tested.

For example, you can use software to instantaneously react to a meter alarm to automatically initiate a “truck roll” to replace a failing meter. However, at this stage of industry evolution, it would be too risky to “hot path” many workflows right away. A deeper understanding of the IoT data stream, and trust in the same, are needed in the march towards more autonomous business processes.

Understanding & Trust Comes from People

In the advancement of IoT technologies within businesses, there is an important intermediation role for people to play in the intersection between the IoT data stream and business processes. Understanding the needs of people in these roles is key to realizing the benefit of IoT investments.

First, people need real-time actionable intel from the IoT data stream. The millions of sensor data packets must be distilled down to the dozens of pertinent anomalies or opportunities. This is not a static need because inquiry and answers will lead to further inquiry. This also isn’t an analytics scenario where you are looking in the rear-view mirror of data, but rather people need to know what is happening in the grid right now. 

Second, people need decision-making support from software. This means providing contextual data, that’s current and easily accessible. Which events are most important? What is the most probable root cause of an event? This is a critical capability for managing the IoT data stream.

Finally, these people will engage new and existing organizational processes as responses to the found events in the grid. They will orchestrate a myriad of processes supported by many different pre-existing software applications, advancing towards ever-greater levels of process optimization based upon the grid data stream.

Bottom line: Humans are an essential part of an IoT-enabled business in utilities. So, to further innovate in this area, we don’t look to eliminate human involvement but rather empower human contribution. People need the ability to tame and triage the vast amounts of data to respond to salient events.

That’s where GridOps, our IoT business platform software comes in.

A Solution to Unlock IoT Capabilities in Distribution Utilities

With GridOps, Trynzic s bridges the capabilities gap between the emerging AMI/IoT data streams and the business processes (and their legacy systems) prevalent in the utilities industry.

GridOps’ advanced-scale data processing and intuitive experience help grid operators in utilities see anomalies, prioritize resources, diagnose problems, collaborate, and mitigate problems in real time.

A flexible software tool that sifts through the large amounts of AMI/IoT data to find salient events helps operators do their jobs better. They can leverage this information to respond to the events that need immediate attention, giving them more time to focus on innovation and building out the workflows of the future.

This makes the operator’s job much more compelling and rewarding. It breaks down silos and puts all business units in a distribution utility on the same page. Plus, it fundamentally changes the way grid management is done. Turning a “run-to-fail” business model into a more efficient and evolved “Sense, Triage, Act” business model.

Conclusion

The shift to workflows informed by IoT devices will take time. Frankly, these changes can be challenging and will require intent, flexibility, trial, and error.

People will play an essential and evolving role in the shift to IoT-enabled businesses and workflows. The goal then is putting the power in the hand of the person and not the tool. A software solution like GridOps can help empower people to better triage and respond to the myriad of data coming in from IoT devices like smart meters.

At Trynzic, we’re passionate about empowering people in an IoT-enabled business. Talk to us today to see how we can help your distribution utility empower operators and achieve digital transformation.