Setting out to unlock the value of utility data can feel like an expedition into the unknown. There are barriers and pitfalls to navigate along the way, and it’s no wonder the vast majority of businesses fail to track and measure their energy data.
In this blog, we set out to chart a path through what we consider to be the 4 most common reasons why companies aren’t using their utility data.
Companies lack a centralized view of their utility portfolio – the tourist guide.
We’ve all returned home from a vacation only to hear someone else was there at the same time and visited amazing places we didn’t even know existed. Why? Because we didn’t have all the information we needed when we made our choices about where to go.
And that’s important; there’s more to London than a palace and a castle. New York is not just a large park with lots of tall buildings. And Sydney cannot be defined by its icons alone. Only by using a guide or tourist book can you see what really makes these cities famous.
The same can be said for your utility portfolio. With so many sites, lights, bills, and processes to oversee, it’s hard for any manager to see the full picture. And that means any decisions taken might lack the impact they otherwise would have or, worse still, cost the business money.
It’s one thing to be envious of places other people visited. It’s entirely another to be quizzed by the Board about buildings or pieces of equipment in your portfolio that you didn’t even know existed.
The energy data is not accurate – asking for directions.
To find the next stop on your itinerary, you sometimes need to ask someone for directions. It could even be an opportunity to dust off the few phrases of a foreign language you’ve stored away for a rainy day. As you listen to their answer, however, the question you should be asking yourself is whether you’re certain they actually know the best way.
In a similar vein, your path to making the right decisions for your energy portfolio relies on what your data tells you. How sure are you that what you are seeing is correct?
If your processes are anything but robotic, it’s likely the data won’t be. Almost a third of companies say they have had to overcome data quality problems before automating processes. After all, many are still manually inputting their utility data into a spreadsheet. The error rate for this kind of data entry is around one percent. Therefore, with hundreds of data points on each bill, that could mean there’s a problem with every single one.
Worse still, that’s just the company’s own data. In our experience, one in every ten utility bills sent to businesses contains an error. Each needs to be challenged and corrected because using misleading information to choose the way forward is a costly mistake.
The utility data is not in the right hands – giving the wrong person the map.
Whether you travel with a partner, friend, or colleague, each brings their own strengths and weaknesses. Take map reading, for example: give someone with a poor sense of direction the responsibility to guide you home and, let’s face it, you could end up anywhere.
When it comes to utility data, the same rings true. Smart meters produce reams of information that could truly make a difference to your business. Using it to gain insight, however, is an art form in itself. Give your Finance team a blank canvas on which to analyze data, and there’s a good chance it will stay that way. Put it in the hands of an energy manager, though, and you could have a masterpiece.
So, if you really want your utility data to inform your direction, make sure you give it to those who can use it to paint the full picture for you.
There is confusion on how to use the utility data – the foreign language.
There’s a certain charm to experiencing other cultures and languages. It can be what really makes your vacation feel like a proper break away from the humdrum of life. But it’s not always easy to understand what’s going on: sometimes, even ordering food can be a challenge.
When it comes to using utility data, if the information isn’t easily accessible, well presented, and insightful, it may be open to a degree of misinterpretation. This leads to gaps in what the business needs compared to what is actually delivered. For data to be useful, it needs to provide insights.
And if the insights produced are not clear, they can create confusion. If there are too many decision-makers, each talking the language of their own business unit, the result is inertia and missed opportunity.
Since the human eye can process visual images nearly 60,000 times faster than text, data visualization is a good solution. The human brain finds it easier to process visual representation of data like graphs or charts than rows of numbers. Using data to tell stories enables the audience to absorb and process the message while removing unnecessary noise.
If your organization is embarking or already on the journey to unlock the value of utility data, Bid’s latest eBook The True Cost of Mismanaged Energy Data is the passport that will help smooth your way.
Reading it could just be the way to ensure your vacation doesn’t become permanent.