Harnessing The Power Of BI For Smart Utility Management

Udit Poddar
Vahishta Mistry
November 30, 2023
5 mins to read
Transform data management in the utilities industry with BI tools

Following our deep dives into the transformative impact of Advanced Metering Interfaces (AMI) and how to handle the large volume of data that these interfaces generate, it's time to spotlight how Business Intelligence (BI) tools have the potential to revolutionize data management and analysis in the utilities industry in general and in the smart metering and smart infrastructure spaces in particular.

Business Intelligence Is A Must-Have

A powerful BI solution is not just an asset but a necessity across industries. For sectors like utilities, the value of BI is particularly pronounced. Utilities deal with massive data volumes from various sources, such as IoT devices and customer interactions. Accurate and efficient data handling can lead to sustainable energy management, better customer service, and streamlined operations. Globally, more than 60% of all utilities companies and 68% of energy companies have already implemented descriptive / diagnostic BI tools for some use cases.

As a refresher, here are just a few of the benefits that Business Intelligence software can provide to businesses in the utilities industry:

🎖️Operational Efficiency

BI tools analyze data from smart meters and sensors in real time, improving demand forecasting and resource management. This leads to more efficient energy distribution and reduced operational costs.

🛠️Predictive Maintenance

By analyzing data patterns, BI software enables predictive maintenance for infrastructure such as street lights, reducing outages and maintenance costs.

🔋Cost Reduction and Energy Savings

BI tools help identify energy wastage, leading to savings. For instance, intelligent street lighting adjusts brightness based on real-time conditions, reducing energy consumption.

🧾Improved Customer Service

Insights from BI software allow utilities to provide detailed energy usage reports and proactive service, enhancing customer satisfaction.

🌱Sustainability Support

BI software aids in integrating renewable energy sources into the grid, supporting sustainable energy practices.

Getting Started with BI: What To Look For

Not all Business Intelligence solutions are created equally. To properly evaluate which solution is right for you, it is worth keeping in mind those requirements that are unique to companies in the utilities industry. To that end, we looked at two of the leading BI tools on the market, Yellowfin and Tableau, and ranked them along with Grid on these specific features:

Data Integration and Quality Management

Given the diverse data sources in utilities (such as grid data, customer information, and operational metrics), BI tools should efficiently integrate and cleanse data from various systems and formats. If you’re curious about how serious this step is, consider that 35.37% of companies said data preparation is crucial for current and future Business Intelligence initiatives.

Real-time Analytics and Reporting

Utilities operate in a dynamic environment where real-time data is a must-have. Any BI software chosen must provide real-time analytics and reporting capabilities for timely decision-making. This is the bare minimum requirement for powering diagnostic and descriptive analytics.

Regulatory Compliance Reporting

One of the primary uses of the data that most utilities collect is to conform to regulatory requirements - Business Intelligence software should therefore facilitate compliance reporting, ensuring that triggers for anomalous events are supported as well as scheduling and exporting reports in a variety of formats including PDF and other documents.

Scalability and Reliability

The BI solution must scale according to the needs of the company. It should be reliable, ensuring consistent performance even under heavy loads. While most cloud services can do this, the security and regulatory requirements might require an on-prem solution, where the software is deployed on a private server. The ideal BI software solution, therefore, is one that can be easily scaled up even when deployed on-prem.

Geospatial Data Analysis

Since utilities manage vast geographical areas, the tool should be capable of integrating and analyzing geospatial data. Interoperability with standard formats like GeoJSON are a must, as well as the ability to bulk upload coordinate point data and the display of this data on map widgets.

User-Friendly Interface

The software should have an intuitive interface that allows non-technical users to create reports and dashboards easily. While this seems like a relatively easy-to-implement feature, only a truly no-code solution like Grid can deliver on this promise; most SaaS software is designed to work a certain way, while the company using it is expected to be flexible and modify their workflows.


Given the sensitive nature of utility data, robust security features to protect data integrity and privacy are essential. At a minimum, SOC-II compliance as well as GDPR and other data privacy frameworks and certifications should be sought.

Mobile Accessibility

Field workers in utilities require access to data on-the-go. Hence, mobile accessibility of the BI tool is important, both as a data gathering tool, as well as to display relevant metrics and information for the field workers.

The Magic Of BI: What Can You Achieve?

Whatever tool you choose, broadly speaking, the benefits of properly implementing a business intelligence solution can be split into three categories:

Enhanced Customer Interactions

Advanced Customer Relationship Development: Improve engagement with customers by combining usage data and other information signals to deliver insights, reduce customer complaints and waiting time.

Customer Transition Visualizations: For regions such as Europe or some parts of SouthEast Asia, where customers can also supply power to the grid and need to be compensated for the same, BI tools can graphically represent the customer-supplier switching process in an easily understandable format, either as a detailed table or a visual map.

Billing Process Visualization: BI tools can provide a visual representation of the entire billing cycle, from initial meter reading to the final billing stage, in real time.

Comprehensive Distribution Overview

Interactive Distribution Interface: Get a complete view of your customer base and the distribution infrastructure, in real time.

Integrated Management Dashboard: Get a comprehensive overview of various business departments, equipped with predefined performance metrics, tailored for management.

Effective Receivables Analysis: Perform detailed analysis of receivables, addressing questions about outstanding items, payment trends, and the duration of unpaid debts from both sales and grid perspectives.

Targeted Monitoring Systems

EEG Analysis: This includes comprehensive reports on feed-in tariffs and grid charge avoidance, sorted by categories and systems, and provided to transmission system operators.

Market Communication and Data Exchange Oversight: Specially designed for automated electronic data exchange between market participants where automated energy trading is an established practice.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) Review: Your BI tool can also enhance transparency and accountability in service-level agreements, aiding in quality assurance and cost management, by tracking and flagging service delivery and quality of service metrics.

If you're interested in availing all the powerful features above to manage your utilities operations, then hit the button below to schedule a demo with Grid to see how our BI tools can help your business!

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Udit Poddar
CEO @ WorkOnGrid | Enterprise SAAS
Vahishta Mistry
Content Team Lead at WorkOnGrid
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