Big data deal gives Oracle a cloud-based platform for analyzing vast datasets generated by electric, gas and water utilities.
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Oracle announced Thursday that it has an agreement to acquire DataRaker, provider of a cloud-based platform used by electric, gas and water utilities to analyze smart meter and sensor data in order to optimize internal operations and improve customer service.
Utilities are investing big money in smart meters and sensors to support data-driven operations and services. Where meter readings used to be captured once per month, mostly for billing purposes, readings are now captured by the hour, minute or even second to gain insights into demand patterns, network distribution characteristics, the impact of the weather and other dynamics. With more data and fast analysis, utilities can proactively address service problems and improve workforce efficiency while also serving up insights to customers for consumption efficiency programs.
Oracle said DataRaker's capabilities will complement its Oracle Utilities solutions, which are mostly utility-specialized ERP applications for work management, asset management, customer care and billing, meter data management, network and outage management, forecasting, human capital management, financials, and supply chain.
DataRaker's cloud-based services will help utility customers shorten customer call times, reduce billing complaints, make better use of field personal and improve customer engagement, Oracle said in a statement.
With more data and better predictive analytics, utilities also will be able to improve capital planning and asset utilization while improving reliability with preventative maintenance and replacement programs designed to avoid outages.
Oracle isn't alone in pursuing smart meter analytics. IBM and SAP both have initiatives underway, and both can point to customers with deployments in place. IBM worked with Washington D.C.'s water utility as part of its Smarter Cities initiative, and it's working with Texas utility Oncor as part of its Smarter Utilities program. SAP is using its Hana database technology at U.K.-based gas and electric utility Centrica.
Oracle did not disclose financial terms or an anticipated close date for the DataRaker acquisition. The company's management team and employees are expected to join the Oracle Utilities global business unit.
Founded in 2007 and based in Sausalito, Calif., DataRaker currently monitors some 17 million smart meters, managing multiple terabytes of data and tracking hundreds of data elements for each utility customer. Data analysis is said to be continuous, with monitoring feeds and insights delivered through Web-based APIs and customizable graphical user interfaces.
Predictive analysis is getting faster, more accurate and more accessible. Combined with big data, it's driving a new age of experiments. Also in the new, all-digital Advanced Analytics issue of InformationWeek: Are project management offices a waste of money? (Free registration required.)
6 Tools to Protect Big DataMost IT teams have their conventional databases covered in terms of security and business continuity. But as we enter the era of big data, Hadoop, and NoSQL, protection schemes need to evolve. In fact, big data could drive the next big security strategy shift.
Big Data Brings Big Security ProblemsWhy should big data be more difficult to secure? In a word, variety. But the business won’t wait to use it to predict customer behavior, find correlations across disparate data sources, predict fraud or financial risk, and more.