Follow Datanami:
September 5, 2013

GE Sees Low Hanging Fruit in Big Data for Utilities

Isaac Lopez

Founded in 1892, GE is one of the oldest major companies in the global landscape. They also happen to be one of the newest major players in the big data trend, with a steady drumbeat of initiatives coming out of the company aimed at advancing their “Industrial Internet” vision. This week, the company announced that they are launching a program focused around advancing big data technologies for utilities.

We’ve covered the challenges that utilities face as they move towards the big data trend in their operations before. Aside from the technology challenges present when a utility company with millions of customers goes from collecting a single data point once a month to dozens every day, there is also the matter of the customer, who suddenly expects a lot more from the utility now that they’re collecting the data. GE says that they will be offering a support program for utilities trying to make the leap into these uncharted waters.

 The company announced that they will be launching a program they’re calling the “Grid IQ Insight Innovative Utility Program” (IUP), focused on building community around their concept of the “Industrial Internet,” and how grid operational analytics fit into the picture. Through the IUP program, like-minded utilities executives will gather for sessions at GE’s Software Center of Excellence to share best practices, use cases, discuss questions on governance, and learn how big data analytics can bring significant value to utilities operations. GE says that they believe that a 1% savings across key global sectors could save as much as $82 trillion over the next 15 years. Their attention on the utilities sector shows that the manufacturing giant sees low hanging fruit in the sector.

To that point, GE says that an overwhelming percentage of operational data from utilities is currently underutilized, and that their approach to reversing this trend through the IUP will be to go through big data issues one case at a time, utilizing analytics to produce tangible, measurable outcomes for the electricity industry. Participants in the program will use GE’s rapid prototyping initiative (RPI) approach to quickly gain visibility of the impact of operational analytics programs for their facilities.

The program aims to use GE’s scalable analytics platform and domain discussions to address specific challenges, such as:

  • How to maximize asset management and investment through meter and edge device analysis and life cycle management.
  • How to minimize outages and maximize reliability through predictive outage analytics and service restoration.
  • How to maximize grid efficiency through better and more accurate load forecasting.
  • How to achieve greater customer engagement through customer segmentation and social media trending analysis.

It all fits into GE’s Industrial Internet concept, which is essentially a platform that utilizes technologies such as cloud computing and Hadoop to serve as a communication and analytics backbone for the rising machine-to-machine data trend known as “The Internet of Things.” The company’s dedication to the concept shines through investment, as well as the launching of products such as their real-time Predictivity analytics line, their Hadoop-lined Proficy Historian HD, aimed at historical analysis – and specific to utilities, their Grid IQ advanced metering infrastructure announced earlier this year, aimed at wirelessly collecting data across a utility’s complete service territory.

Things are still heating up at GE as they seem intent on trailblazing and capitalizing on the big data movement through their extensive reach in oil & gas, power, healthcare, aviation, rail, and other industries.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this giant as it reinvents itself for the new era. In the meantime, here is a video which gives some context on their commitment to the space:

Related items:

When Big Data Wakes the Sleeping Giant 

Pivotal Launches With $105m Investment From GE 

Intel and Hadoop Help Power Pecan Street