4 tips for the utility data scientist


Tell me if you’ve heard this before:  Your company hired (or re-titled) a talented data scientist and they have great skills and no data. Or they're marginalized by IT because they're misunderstood. They're offered “cleansed” data that will fit into the hardware provisioned. What they want is “all” relevant data and no constraints on size. They quickly learn to keep their hands off production environments, yet that’s where the latest data is!

So what can you do, if you have a utility data scientist that feels stymied?

First off, you may want to compare the roles and responsibilities that have been established with that of similar people in other companies. This guide includes answers to the most common questions and interviews with data scientists.

Given our work with utilities around the world, we offer these additional tips to maximize potential and accelerate innovation:

  1. Build a sandbox - the safe zone for creative exploration. Innovation begets more innovation. To avoid stifling the curiosity of the rare utility data scientist, leadership from business and IT are seeking ways to establish sanctioned analytic sandboxes for rapid prototype development.  Hadoop’s ability to store large volumes of data and retrieve them quickly, as well as it’s relatively low cost, has catapulted its adoption across all industries.
  1. Shorten project cycles. Project cycles can be lengthy, ultimately delivering a product that doesn’t meet the current needs. How do we shorten cycles to deliver results while the iron is still hot?  In agile methodology, this requires rapid prototyping.  If you don’t have the internal skillsets, you can rely on a partner like SAS to augment your bench. For short-term analytical work, our data scientists are available to join your team as remote development support.
  1. Augment your analytical environment by contracting hardware and software for short sprints – on premise or in the cloud. SAS and Intel recently partnered up to provide an innovative processing and in-memory architecture uniquely designed to make full use of SAS analytics. Just bring your data and get started! You can prototype new analytics capabilities right away, empowering you to focus on your use cases and realize business value quickly.

“If your organization is exploring new analytics initiatives, Intel and SAS offer a special program to help your company harness the power of new business analytics quickly.”

Sam Harrell, Director, Energy Vertical, Intel

  1. Adopt flexible software. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to analytics. Selecting a software vendor that brings more than one analytic flavor to the table.  Today’s data scientist may be skilled in Python, R, SAS and others. An “open” analytic platform provides both governance and unbounded potential for innovation.

As the utility business is changing and adapting to new market and customer expectations, the contribution of data scientists will be increasingly important. The analysis behind the data-driven decisions that they support directly affect how the utility invests in the smart grid, drives enhanced customer satisfaction, and optimizes operating procedures. Making the most of these valued resources is a key challenge now and in the years ahead.

SAS and Intel will be at Utility Analytics Week from 1st to 3rd November. Meet our teams, catch the sessions, discussing analytics and the grid or change and challenges with analytics. Or, if you arrive early, check out the preconference session, about becoming a competitive energy provider.


About Author

Alyssa Farrell

Product Marketing Manager, Energy and Sustainability

Alyssa Farrell leads global industry marketing for SAS’ business within the energy sector, including Utilities, Oil and Gas. In this role, she focuses on the SAS solutions that help optimize our energy infrastructure by applying predictive analytics to complex data. She currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Research Triangle Cleantech Council and co-leads the Program and Communications Action Committee, as well as a Working Group of the Utility Analytics Institute. She is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). Farrell regularly speaks with trade associations, analysts, and the press about the opportunities organizations have to effectively manage a sustainable energy analytics strategy and drive healthy economic growth. Prior to joining SAS, Farrell was a senior consultant in the Deloitte Public Sector practice. In this capacity, she was a project manager for state-wide and county-wide systems implementations and was responsible for user acceptance testing, change management and training, and middleware technology selection. She is a graduate of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, where she earned her MBA degree with a concentration in Management Information Systems. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University.

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