How has it helped my organization?
We're looking to see what the total cost of ownership is; from housing our data internally and running the product, to putting it into the cloud and letting Oracle manage that as a service, and we just provision the information out and get the data back. We're trying to see the total cost of ownership for the hardware and the infrastructure into the cloud, and getting the same quality set of services out of the product.
Something interesting that’s going on in the utility industry is, as we've collected data on our customer, we tend to have federated pockets of information, yet the traditional BI is not addressing those things. People have been coming to us with solutions of, "Hey, send us your data. We've already done these things for other utility industries, other utility customers." You're basically riding once and leveraging it across the whole industry.
What needs improvement?
One of the success measures of the product, as I’ve mentioned, is we're trying to focus on service levels; running the analytics as a service and getting the data to our business, so they can improve the customer experience. One of the key areas would be leak detection. We're trying to run analytics to predict when a leak is occurring at our customer’s site; we can let them know, "Hey, something may be happening, that you're losing revenue." That's the use case we’re driving through.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using DataRaker for about six months so far. Actually, we're doing an on-premise pilot with the product.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's in a pilot phase. We have it installed and we're running a few things through it. We haven't scaled it out. That's another key consideration: the scalability of the solution in the cloud versus the scalability on premise, as it relates to how fast we need the data turnaround. That's one of the key indicators for our service levels.
How are customer service and technical support?
The support model is in a pilot. They've given us the modules, we've run the data through it, and we're getting outputs. The support from the cloud perspective of moving over is really twofold. They have an option where you can just send the data and you can write your analytics. It's basically a platform as a service, or the software service is: You send the data over, they do support and other tasks, but they also provide the support for the analytics engines and similar items. It's kind of twofold when you look into the cloud; you can either send your data there and build your own or send your data there and they build it for you.
The second part is they actually provide the data scientist to do the analysis, which is a good thing.
Through my interactions with them, I’m finding that they're knowledgeable. Their products have matured over the last two to three years. This is something a lot of people have been wanting to chew on within the smart grid initiative: analytics and data. To look at performance, not only of your grid, your transformers, your distribution network, but also from a customer experience perspective. What are you learning about your customer? You can be out front and predict what their needs are.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Before, we were using some homegrown analytics, Excel, Access, etc. One of the triggers for changing was: If I have a base source of data on my customer - such as their billing data and their consumption data - how can I take this bulk data, put it somewhere, and run analytics on it without having to do internal one-offs? Oracle provided the DataRaker product with the analytics ability, pre-built; we just have to feed our data to them; good use case.
What other advice do I have?
One of the key aspects here is data security; data stewardship and data ownership, even though it's the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. It's an important thing when you start considering cloud, and on-prem solutions. If I'm going to send my customers’ data out, I want to know it's going to be secure, it's not going to be compromised. My customers want me to do that because I'm the steward of their information.
Basically, spend the time to understand where your data is going and how it's going to be used, that it's not going to be compromised. That's the one big thing.
My rating reflects that, quite often, we don't know what we want, and the solution thinks they know what you want. There's this nice little compromise and the, “Oh yeah, you meant that”, type of thing. Could it be better? I think it could be better. Could it be worse? It could be worse. At the end of the day, the partnership and the output is what we want. It's going through the rigmarole to get to the output; it could be a little bit better.