Reaching the New Energy Consumer

Whether it’s to reduce churn in competitive markets or to elevate customer satisfaction rankings in regulated markets, customer analytics is hot right now in utilities.

However, the complexity that utilities have built into their processes and technologies over the past decades makes customer analytics a more challenging issue to tackle than one might think.

In addition, the utilities relationship with customers is impacted by broader consumerization evident across all markets. Consumers are more digital and connected than ever before. This is just one of three mega-trends that is impacting the landscape for utility marketers.

Figure 1: The Changing Landscape of Utility Marketing

Figure 1: The Changing Landscape of Utility Marketing

While utilities are not engaging through digital channels at the speed of retailers or banks, some utilities offer mobile payment options and most have some social media presence.  To reach the empowered consumer, utilities will need to connect with the consumer at the point of making a decision that impacts their energy footprint, such as purchasing an electric car or solar panels.  For utilities, this is a step along the journey to becoming a trusted energy advisor.  To do so, utilities must leverage digital channels, including smart phones and social media, to provide valuable insights at consumer’s fingertips.

Secondly, all industries are facing an explosion of data.  For utilities, that not only spews from grid asset sensors, but it also emanates from smart meters.  That interval meter data can be analyzed to predict customer behaviors IF you can get the right data into the right hands at the right time. The relationship between CMO and CIO becomes paramount.

Last, marketing is both art and science.  The brain of a marketer has to function analytically as well as creatively.  There is a big demand for data scientists in the field of marketing analytics and utilities must to fight to recruit and retain this brainpower.

 

So how can the utility marketer be efficient in this complex social-centric data rich world?

Through thoughtful design and investment into proven technologies, utilities around the world have successfully implemented analytical marketing systems that complement existing CIS systems.

Figure 2: Multi-channel, Big Data Analytics

Figure 2: Multi-channel, Big Data Analytics

These systems capture big data and social data streams.  This includes text from twitter and Facebook, or numeric data from smart meters, and other data that’s not really “big data” per se, like customer satisfaction surveys, and third party demographic data, and call center notes.

The utility of the future will need to understand customers individually, beyond the traditional household segmentation and rate categories.  Just as not all utilities are regulated alike, not all customers behave the same in different geographies.  Pricing or environmental factors may influence the adoption of various offers in one area more than others.  Using sophisticated marketing analytics, utilities can automate a series of campaigns that targets those most likely to benefit from the energy program and most likely to respond.

With these strategies, powered by proven analytics, utilities will reach the new energy consumer and take another step in the journey towards the trusted energy advisor.

 

If you’re a member of Utility Analytics Institute, view a webinar on the topic for more information:  http://www.energycentral.com/events/30156

Or you can download this paper entitled: Analytic Strategies for the Customer-Centric Utility

http://www.sas.com/en_us/whitepapers/analytic-strategies-for-the-customer-centric-utility-105343.html

SAS has been delivering advanced analytics to utilities for over 38 years.  All of the US utilities in the Fortune 500 are SAS customers and have been for an average of 30 years.  www.sas.com/utilities

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How Hadoop emerged and why it gained mainstream traction

In the world of IT, very few new technologies emerge that are not built on what came before, combined with a new, emerging need or idea. The history of Hadoop is no exception.

To understand how Hadoop came to be, we therefore need to understand what went before Hadoop that led to its creation. To understand why Hadoop stagnated for a few years we need to understand how it was initially used. To understand why Hadoop is now accelerating in its adoption, we need to look at what is happening now and where we are headed.

Looking back at the phases of evolution that led to the emergence and incubation of Hadoop along with the current and future path of the technology can help us understand why it has gained in importance and where the hype is coming from. Read More »

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Data and analytics in sports: three things to consider

487704373It’s a great time to be a sports fan – and an even better time to be a sports and data fan as these two worlds continue to meld together. For the last couple of years nearly every conversation about sports, analytics or both had to have at least one mention of “Moneyball” – the story of how Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics used data to create a strong team through a recruitment strategy that was often at odds with the established ways baseball scouts evaluated players.

Where granular telemetry information that needed processing in near-real time was once reserved for high-end auto racing, we’re not far from a world where it becomes pervasive in other sports. Think about being able to see a soccer player’s heart rate as he walks up the pitch to take decisive penalty shot. Or knowing how fast the hockey puck is moving as it slides behind the goalkeeper. Or something as seemingly trivial as being able to quickly find the closest restroom in a crowded sports venue.

The Oakland As are no longer alone in embracing a data-driven decision making model: many sports leagues, individual teams, and sporting venues are exploring ways to capture and track player performance data, understand what fans need, and improve overall fan experience. If you're interested in doing the same, consider these tips. Read More »

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Does U.S. health care overlook the fraud part of fraud, waste and abuse?

health care professionals in hospital hallwayThe U.S. health care market has always had practices in place to try and manage, or at least limit, aberrant behavior, which includes activities that are often described as cost containment, payment integrity and affordability.   

In the past, many organizations have appeared satisfied with their efforts in this area and have taken offense at any insinuation that they're not performing at optimum levels. 

When looking overall at aberrant behavior, however, studies suggest that fraud accounts for five to ten percent of cost of claims, whereas waste and abuse account for anywhere from twenty to thirty percent. You could dispute the numbers, since no one can accurately calculate the exact number (hence the range).  Clearly, though, the waste and abuse portion accounts for a larger exposure than fraud.

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Why Captain Kirk is a role model for the Internet of Things

The rumors, flying for many moons now, have turned out to be true. Followed by U2's new album release, Apple announced the launch of the Apple Watch for early 2015.

Apple has finally unveiled its first foray into wearable technology. The Apple Watch (yep, not the iWatch), is an Apple made smartwatch that was shown off during Apple's 9 September iPhone 6 event.

It includes a new dial, close integration with iCloud and Siri, and a flexible sapphire display. There's even more to read in this excellent Apple watch article from the Wired magazine.

300 years in the future, Starship Enterprise's Captain James T. Kirk talks to his crew via a communicator; has his medical officer assess medical conditions through a handheld. But you, as Star Trek fan from the very beginning, know that, right? His successors' devices and technology features become even more fancy: They hold meetings in virtual-reality chambers, called holodecks, and operate alien spacecraft using displays mounted on their foreheads.

But the point is: For me Apple's presentation brought back some good old childhood memories. If you were also watching Star Trek science fiction from time to time, you know what I mean. Read More »

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Will social banking become the norm?

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For the first time in three years, there is a decline in positive banking experiences, according to the 2014 World Retail Banking Report from Capgemini. This is partly due to the trend that people between 18 and 34 want to conduct more of their banking through social media. However, most banks are not keeping up in this area.

In the 18-34 age group only 41.7 percent cited positive banking experiences, compared to 63.4 percent of those in other age groups. Banks have incorporated the Internet into their channel mix, and they have done enough to keep their customers satisfied, but now they are expected to go further.

A social banking example
The challenge for banks is to use social channels to revive the personal aspect of their customer experience – and social media fits this perfectly. One bank who did this well is Citibank. The Senior Vice President of Social Media at Citibank, Frank Eliason, realized that security is an important thing to consider, as he knew that giving account information on Twitter would be dangerous.

Here’s how Citibank succeeds at customer service on Twitter: when someone mentions Citibank or Citi in a tweet, the Citibank social team takes the conversation into Direct Messages. Then, they guide the person towards a chat application, so they can easily ask any question they have.

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Searching for signs of life in the universe ... with SAS

99385267Light years from Earth, within the constellation Virgo, two galaxies crashed into one another. Not something you could’ve seen peering into the night sky with the naked eye.

We know it happened because astronomers pieced together images from several powerful telescopes to create what CBS News called a “cosmic magnifying glass.” With it, they documented an otherwise imperceptible event.

A video illustrating their discovery is startling – and thought provoking.

It brought to mind an amateur astronomer in Chicago named Robert H. Gray, who uses SAS in his search for radio signals from other worlds.

Yes, you read that right. SAS has a role in searching the universe for intelligent life!

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A day in the life with my connected car

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In the morning at 6am my iPhone buzzes. But it is not the alarm clock, rather it's important information from an app.

What is this, I think to myself and look sleepily at the screen: "Danger of black ice! Already 15 km traffic jam on the A3 towards Cologne! Recommendations: Suggest alternative route via the A61 and move up your departure time from 8:00 to 7:00 am."

So, I trot out of bed and into the shower. Showered and in a suit, I sit down at the breakfast table. It's 6:45 am. Again, the iPhone vibrates, "Seat and window heater in operation." Very nice … so I don`t have to start the defrosting myself.

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When does speed become a trap?

For many years companies have been working to increase their use of predictive analytics and to execute analytic models faster on increasingly granular and growing volumes of data. Recently, there has been a great focus on "faster" from a  technology standpoint, as modelers seek to iterate quickly and fail fast on all the data using a wide variety of sometimes computationally intensive analytic algorithms.

This focus on speed is especially seen in the world of the emerging data scientist. But quick answers are equally important to traditional modelers and for models deployed into production that need to respond faster than ever before.

To meet this need, analytics vendors have responded with technological innovations such as high-performance analytics and in-memory solutions for Hadoop, which have been developed to deliver breakneck analytical processing speeds. The unbounded possibilities for solving problems on larger and larger amounts of data at ever increasing speeds empower data scientists, data modelers and business decision makers.

On one hand, the amazing technological leaps are something to be proud of, but frankly speaking, no one is really looking for speed alone, and focusing just on speed might lead you into a trap!

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Full size visual analytics power for any size budget

DressShirtsImagine that you’re a large retail firm, in need of projecting sales for the next few months. With the right analytical solution, it can literally take just seconds to have a forecast in place. You drag and drop some variables and can figure out exactly which ones are underlying factors that affect your forecast. Faster analysis of complex problems leads to faster response times and the ability to save and make more revenue and profit in the end. The focus in this “big data era” is often on large data sets: terabytes and petabytes of transactional or customer data, for example.

But what about departments within an organization, such as HR, finance, IT, marketing, and sales? Surely they have similar needs, even if it’s at a slightly smaller scale.

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