Barbarisi touches on the company’s main objectives, their upcoming event, and why utilizing analytics is so important to the utility industry.
UMC: What was Utility Analytics Institute’s initial mission statement upon its inception?
Vanessa Barbarisi: The original mission of the Utility Analytics Institute was stated to be to accelerate the adoption, advancement, and utilization of analytics, enabling utilities to operate more safely, reliably, and efficiently.
The mission hasn’t changed much over the past five years. It now states: The Utility Analytics Institute’s mission is to enable its members to realize desired business outcomes using data analytics.
We view data as a strategic asset and want to help utilities enhance their BI using this powerful tool.
UMC: Why do you believe it’s important for the utility industry to have a resource like Utility Analytics Institute?
Barbarisi: The utility industry is in a unique position because the vast majority of companies do not compete with one another; therefore, the Institute gives the utility sector a great place to collaborate, learn, and develop analytics initiatives. This approach helps each utility with cost-effectiveness through reduced time and risk on new analytics initiatives, expose their utility to other processes and abilities from similar utilities, and work together on better algorithms or analytics technologies.
UMC: What are the top three most discussed topics within the Institute?
Barbarisi: We have four main areas we are currently focusing on, which are represented through our working groups.
- Asset Optimization and Performance Management
- Advanced Safety Analytics
- Customer Analytics
- Analytics Architecture and Technologies
These working groups have their own web pages that maintain all of the session recordings, materials, roster, and provide a place for an online forum where members can pose questions to their respective groups.
UMC: What features from the site are most utilized?
Barbarisi: Outside of the working group pages, the Utility Analytics Institute site has a great list of resources and publications, such as project profiles (180 of them), which receive the highest traction. Project profiles are case studies that utilities produce that cover important topics from leak detection to machine leaning techniques used for detecting equipment anomalies.
UMC: How many research reports do you typically release in a year? How do you choose the topics?
Barbarisi: The Executive Advisory Council (EAC) acts as the board of directors for the Institute and provides strategic direction. The EAC is comprised of two representatives, Director level or above, from each utility member. UAI produces three research reports per year based on the interest and direction provided by the EAC.
UMC: Tell me about your event Utility Analytics Week coming in the fall. What do you hope attendees will take away from this event?
Barbarisi: Utility Analytics Week is a great event! We have almost 500 analytics professionals in attendance; over 50 percent of which are utilities. At Utility Analytics Week, we also have an expo hall that provides a great opportunity to interact with thought leaders in our industry. The event this year will focus on four tracks: Customer Analytics, T&D Operations and Grid Analytics, Generation Analytics, and Analytics Imperatives (people, process, technology focus). The event has a little bit of something for everyone. Plus, we have outside the industry keynote speakers that share their experience of implementing analytics initiatives in their organizations, which are very insightful for where the utility industry is going.
UMC: Are there any notable speakers at this point?
Barbarisi: Our agenda will be posted soon… I can’t spill the beans just yet, but please check out our website: www.utilityanalyticsweek.com
UMC: We ask this question in just about every interview, but I feel you are at a slight advantage given the plethora of insight you have at your disposal. What do you believe the next “big thing” will be in regards to technology?
Barbarisi: How technology works together to enable predictive analytics is really the name of the game for leading utilities. A lot of utilities that are early in their maturity are looking for vendors that can develop strong BI and visualization without causing an integration nightmare or fail to produce a reasonable ROI.