Until recently, data has not been a major headache for energy and utility industry. Considering the complexities of budgets strained by aging assets managed with shrinking workforce in contrast with the investments in new capacity, renewable energy, and the convergence of operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT); combined with increasing regulatory measures and environmental concerns of the industry, it becomes demanding to ensure operational readiness and organisational profitability. Many a times, at the heart of these problems is the inability to use and manage structured and unstructured data that is available to a particular organisation. The advent of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) has increased the level of data collection dramatically. To cite a case, if smart meters were incorporated across the U.S., they would generate five times the data of the current AT&T network.
Enterprise search relates to one such solution which can trespass some of these barricades. Enterprise search has been around for ~67 years as described by the concept of ‘Information Retrieval’ by J.E. Holmstrom in 1948. The main challenge faced by businesses that obstructs effective search is the vocabulary disconnect between the terminology and the inherent ambiguity of terminology in their information. The technology can help in enterprise metadata framework to improve search and address governance requirements, however, the technology needs to be embedded within the organisation starting from the tactical, business process level to the associate level through a combination of people and technologies.
Coming to specific issues within this sector, for example, in large cities, the energy distribution network consisting of and managed using underground cables, power grids and transformers demand geo-spatial information in a multitude of forms and format. The field workers who are actually doing the operations need access to this information for maintenance jobs. Coordination of field operations is also critical during highly visible large-scale restoration operations that come under public and regulatory scrutiny and, it might be the case that closest field workers need to be located for immediate and urgent fixes. It shouldn’t strike as surprising if large organizations have over 50 million documents in their formal Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) alone. This is where Enterprise search drives the result to retrieve contextualised relevant information from MIS located in documents lying on CMS and link it with geo-spatial search so that a unified list of results in form of documents or links are generated.
An aptly summarised view on how Enterprise search can help utilities & energy has been given by one of the leading vendors of the technology, Concept Searching, “Enterprise search is an infrastructure component and the impact of poor search reaches far beyond the retrieval of information. Impacting eDiscovery and litigation support, as well as unauthorised access to confidential information, inaccurate results can increase costs as well as organizational risk. Using multi-term metadata that represent a concept, identifying relevant content during a search effectively removes ambiguity and enables the retrieval of information based on the concepts within, increasing both precision and recall.” In this manner, the energy & utilities sector can unleash the power of data using Enterprise search and utilise it for success to ace the competition.
Author: Debaleena Debnath
Debaleena is a digital media consultant @ speradigital.
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