Reenergizing the Utilities Industry through Data Archiving
Today, “big data” is more than just a buzzword: for many companies, it is a daily reality. Businesses across virtually every industry – and the utilities sector in particular – are witnessing an explosion in the amount of data being generated, creating a critical need to manage it effectively and efficiently.
Although this rapid growth of data generates enormous opportunities for analytics and business insights, the sheer volume can also create problems that not only impede system performance, but also increase the total cost of ownership for utility companies running large ERP systems. From invoices to meter reads, utility companies often find themselves faced with simply too much data.
At the same time, companies are also witnessing increased advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), the integrated system of smart meters, communications network, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers. The increase in AMI means greater sampling frequency, which leads to a rise in data in utilities. To further complicate things, utility companies are highly regulated and customer billing and meter data must be managed appropriately to ensure data retention requirements are compliant and that sensitive customer data is secure.
To navigate today’s challenges brought on by the ever-increasing influx of data, organizations are implementing rigorous data archiving strategies to free up space, improve compliance with retention requirements, increase productivity and save money.
Data volume management can be an arduous undertaking, even more so in highly regulated industries. Without implementing some sort of data volume management strategy, companies leave themselves vulnerable to risk from retaining data beyond corporate policies or penalties incurred from improperly responding to an audit request. To address these concerns, data archiving enables utility companies to retain data to meet regulatory reporting requirements, while still supporting the analytics that the company depends on to drive decision making.
Within many organizations, retention rules are in place but aren’t necessarily mapped to digital information in the system of record. Through a data archiving strategy, organizations can ensure that data is safely retained according to these policies, making it possible to programmatically set up, review and report on retained data for internal and external audit purposes. When data reaches its end of life, it can be purged or destroyed, which frees up space for new, more valuable data.
While many energy companies follow this lifecycle for paper documents, it is essential that companies put a data archiving strategy in place to ensure online data is retained and destroyed according to the corporate records retention policy. Implementing a data archiving strategy can assist utility companies with their need to enforce compliance, as accumulating information without a defined lifecycle exposes the organization to risk.