INSIGHTS

Continuous Innovation For Utilities - Where To Start?!

Published 2016-05-24

Telemetry is here and it is a technology trend that needs your attention. Within Utilities, telemetry will have an immense effect on business models, business processes and cost structures. It is also closely related to other technology drivers and trends such as mobility and Big Data. An end-to-end perspective is critical to understand where the real benefits are and how to deal with the impacts – so where you should start?

We are all constantly hearing about how the Internet of Things will change everything - from how businesses are operated, to how we live our daily lives in smart houses dressed in smart clothes.

Internet of Things for Utilities equals telemetry, and can be used to:

  • Predict the maintenance of equipment
  • Track assets, people and vehicles
  • Alarm on, and control temperature, humidity, light etc. to more effectively operate, run and maintain machinery and buildings
  • Avoid accidents by using sensors for changes in pressure, wear, movement, fire, water etc.
  • Trace and collections of data on behaviour and performance

Realising that telemetry and M2M can truly transform how businesses operate, and that the basic principles are simple to understand, there are still a number of challenges to overcome. Many companies are running trials, some very successful. That is very good but it would better to approach it from a platform perspective. Ensuring repeatable trials allows the company to fail fast while still building the capabilities and digital platform for success. This avoids the risk that each telemetry initiative becomes a one-off project, or, that each initiative results in increased complexity resulting in diminishing returns.

A new domain of systems emerges as well:

  • Tracking where a sensor is physically installed and geographically located.
  • Device/Sensor management
  • Ensuring the connectivity of the device or sensor, often where there is no obvious network connectivity, and often for sensors that must be mobile. 
  • Capturing and responding to the alarms, events and triggers generated by the devices and sensors
  • Continuously collecting of data on performance dramatically increases the volume of data to be managed
  • Security from sensor and device to back end systems is critical in the utilities industry

How is all this established, what is needed and how is it implemented? It is our experience that there is a gap between understanding the principles and benefits and implemented in a cost efficient manner.

Ultimately it boils down to finding the business case for using telemetry to improved business processes: lowering the cost of maintenance, of increasing customer satisfaction for example.

Invariably this means joining up the individual events triggered on sensors or devices, via an integration platform, with the business systems such as ERP, CRM, Asset Management, Warehouse Management, Field service, Scheduling, GIS.  Delivering the value this gives dictates the nature of the integration and the requirements of the platform.

United Vanning Consulting helps companies make use of opportunities based on telemetry through a structured approach


United Vanning Consulting provides the technology knowhow as well as the process insight to assist from idea through to implementation. On top of these capabilities in our engagements we give our customers access to our partner ecosystem for world leading technology and solutions for connectivity, digital platform integration and data management.

United Vanning Consulting - Partner Ecosystem

Software AG offers the world’s first Digital Business Platform for Utilities. Recognized as a leader by the industry’s top analyst firms, Software AG helps you combine existing systems on premises and in the cloud into a single platform to optimize your environment and delight your citizens. With Software AG, you can rapidly build and deploy digital utility applications to improve customer services delivery. Get maximum value from big data, make better decisions with streaming analytics, achieve more with telemetry and M2M, and respond faster to shifting regulations and threats with intelligent governance, risk and compliance. Visit www.softwareag.com to learn more.

For more information about United Vanning Consulting or to explore how our expertise can help you, please contact us at www.unitedvanning.com/en/contact

Convergent BSS/OSS Telco architectures

Published 2015-11-12

In the world of telecom operators the pace is high, with new technologies emerging and a business environment where mergers & acquisitions are commonplace.

With time this has led to a situation where many operators have inherited very many applications, tools and integration points – driving cost and making it difficult to approach the customer in a unified way, irrespective of the services they receive.

With a convergent architecture an operator can manage all users and their services in a unified way, enabling full flexibility in how to package service offerings and charge for them on a single bill – while at the same time reducing operating cost.

In short, the aim is to establish true convergence for all services:

  • one architecture
  • one CRM
  • one Order Management
  • one Billing
  • one Invoice

It is however not an easy implementation: it affects the whole system architecture, involves complex migration activities, and on top of that this has to be done while operating the existing production environment.

In a project of this scale it is impossible to know everything beforehand and have all details on paper. Hence, a number of activities and principles need to be agreed upon upfront:

Establishment of a clear vision and strategy for the project, with strong support from the executive management team.

Processes for architectural walkthroughs and issue resolution meetings where all parties and stakeholders take part.

Planned demonstrations at defined intervals of all delivered functionality to shorten the feedback loop between the business stakeholders and the delivery organization to deliver in a more agile manner.

Clear escalation processes for fast decision making and prioritization

Practical and solution-oriented scope management

To succeed it’s critical to choose the right systems integrator. The company selected to take on a large-scale project like this on a turnkey delivery basis must:

  • Be able to scale up fast with the right type of technology competence
  • Have industry competence and expertise
  • Enforce a very strong delivery culture, and an attitude that “we can accomplish anything together as a team”
  • A very capable and reliable delivery methodology
  • Establish trust and partnership with the customer at all levels
  • Have a detailed understanding of the architecture principles
  • Demonstrate experience from system replacement and migration projects

United Vanning Consulting has the knowledge and the experience to deliver true convergent BSS/OSS architectures.

As a prime system integrator, United Vanning Consulting has delivered turnkey solutions to establish fully convergent Telco architectures. United Vanning has also been selected as the consultancy provider responsible for areas such as program management, architecture and test management, responsible for the entire initiative and in charge of the coordination of all system vendors.

The management and senior consultants at United Vanning Consulting has been working in the BSS/OSS communications space for over 20 years each, delivering expert consulting and implementation, as well as many systems and architecture replacement projects.

For more information about United Vanning or to explore how our expertise can help you please contact us at www.unitedvanning.com/en/contact

Get out of the ETL data-filtering trap with the use of Big Data/Fast data solutions and AnalytiX DS

Published 2015-11-12

Why is Big Data/Fast data interesting for regular companies? The simple answer is that the Big Data ecosystem provides new opportunities at lower cost – meaning that solutions and services can now be provided that simply were not feasible before because costs were too high.

Many would argue that it is also because the technology did not exist. However for most large corporations there were ways to get it done with regular technology, but it would have been more complex and certainly too expensive, except for the likes of Google or Facebook.

Many of the open source software packages in the Big Data space exist simply because continuing with traditional software solutions did not scale and was too expensive to be a viable option - both from software license and hardware cost perspective. So, how can a large corporation such as a bank, retailer, Telco operator or utility benefit from using these Big Data software concepts?

One example is getting out of the “ETL data-filtering trap”. ETL tools are used for Extracting data from source systems, transforming it and loading it into a target system, in many cases a data warehouse. The issue is that only what is extracted will reach the data warehouse. Hence, it must be known beforehand what data is relevant and what to be extracted. The business analyst must have great knowledge about the source, and know what data he or she needs before making a request to the ETL developer to provide the data. A lot of opportunities are lost, simply because you cannot make discoveries outside the boundaries of the data that is available to you.

ETL processes typically run at a certain interval, e.g. once a day, or once a week. Hence, the data can be analyzed, but the company can only act upon it in retrospect.

AnalytiX DS will improve and accelerate the Data Integration processes by providing unique capabilities for:

  • Data Integration: Centralised repository for Meta-data, which can be leveraged, to generate design mappings, and automated code generation, maximising your ETL platform’s value
  • Centralised Data Mapping: Source to target data mapping process across the enterprise and different operational systems – 50% faster, and 100% more collaborative than spreadsheets!
  • Reports Generation: End to End forward & Reverse Graphical lineage, Impact Analysis, Truncation Alerts, and many more!
  • Pre-ETL Automation: Auto Generate ETL jobs for the leading ETL tools (Informatica, Data stage, ODI, Talend, and SSIS etc.)
  • Integrated Dev Environment CATfX: Code Automation Template FrameworX or CATfX – script in Java, Groovy, JRuby, XSLT  - output to any format! Instant ROI through automation
  • Robust Application Collaboration: Web based applications that bring transparency and collaboration across global team members
  • Application flexibility: Open repository framework that can easily connect with Add on modules and third party (like Modeling, Analysis, BI tools, etc)
  • Globalisation: Built in Internationalization and multi-language instructions framework.
  • Security: built in role-based security architecture within the application framework.

Another example is to use the Kafka software to turn the ETL process upside down. Instead offetching the data as an ETL system would do, Kafka “sends” - streams the data continuously, not in intervals, allowing you to create a data transport layer sending more data faster than before to a data warehouse or “data lake” in Hadoop or Cassandra.  This gives the data mining analyst the opportunity to make discoveries from larger sets of data. Once patterns have been discovered the company can act upon events in real-time using real-time event processing and analysis tools.

Operators, banks, retailers and utilities know they have an abundance of data that is useful but has not been used thus far. An oil well that has so far been too expensive to be exploited because the price of production is too high. With new technologies it is now possible to make the oil well highly profitable.

Operators have an enormous amount of data created in the network that is currently not used to drive their business. This data can now be transported, analysed on a per-event basis and acted upon in real-time.

The same is true for utilities. Except that for the utilities it is the power grid, monitoring equipment, sensors and smart metering that are creating the data. Previously it has been simply too costly to collect and use this data.

Banks and retailers have the same opportunities with regards to data collected from their transaction platforms and their online self-service platforms. These platforms gives data about purchasing patterns, customer behaviour patterns, risk exposure etc. Banks can create richer data warehouses that can provide faster insights into risk analysis and can be used as a means to achieve compliance. Retailers can become smarter in their promotions and create stickiness to their brands.

However, a number of questions arise. As an analyst, decision maker or as an IT manager I would like to:

  • Know where the data originates from
  • Understand how reliable the data is
  • Ensure that changes in the source systems are catered for in target systems
  • Version control and track changes in data structures over time
  • Establish traceability
  • Follow data lineage between systems in my architecture

United Vanning Consulting is partnering with AnalytiX DS to provide a solution to these needs.

AnalytiX Mapping Manager® Big Data Edition® enables organizations to reduce costs & accelerate project delivery by automating the big data mapping process thereby making it faster, more manageable & collaborative, establishing version control, tractability and automation.

For more information about United Vanning Consulting or to explore how our expertise can help you please contact us at www.unitedvanning.com/en/contact, or, go to our partner's website analytixds.com/

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