The Smart Metering Wave and Its Impact on Utilities’ Meter-to-Cash Process | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Posted On April 26, 2011

Meter-to-Cash (M2C) is a significant process for utility companies as it not only represents their revenue cycle but also touches the end customer directly. Essentially M2C is the utility industry’s version of the generic Order-to-Cash (O2C) process. These are times of change for the utility industry due to a variety of reasons, the advent of disruptive technologies such as smart metering being one of them.

While the future of smart metering is still being debated, many facts suggest that it’s no longer an “if” but a “when.” For example, the United States in November 2009 directed US$3.4 billion in federal economic stimulus funding to smart grid development. The European Union in September 2009 enacted a “Third Energy Package,” which aims to see every European electricity meter smart by 2022. A recent study by ABI Research projects the global deployment of smart meters to grow at a CAGR of nearly 25 percent from 2009-2014. A combination of factors including regulatory push, intense competition (particularly in deregulated markets), and the business benefits that smart meters offer to utilities’ operations – in terms of tightened revenue cycles and increased customer satisfaction – are driving the adoption of smart meters.

However, deploying a smart metering infrastructure is no small task for a utility as it brings in many fundamental changes to the M2C operations. Managing the cutover from traditional to smart meters, dealing with new network technologies, the diminished role of field services, and the upgrades required to meter data management systems (MDMS) are just some of the key challenges that utilities undergoing smart metering implementation need to overcome. But the even bigger challenge arrives after implementation – how does a utility manage the massive explosion in meter data in the “smart” world? As opposed to meter reads every month or two, we are now talking about reads once every hour that thousands of smart meters throw back to the utility’s MDMS. Even more importantly, how should a utility leverage the data for meaningful business intelligence purposes?

Many utilities have found the answer in outsourcing some of the M2C functions to external service providers that have jumped on the smart metering wave with services ranging from pre-implementation advisory to post-implementation services such as smart analytics offerings. For example, Capgemini‘s smart energy services offering focuses on the requirements of utilities undergoing smart metering implementation. It recently launched a new smart metering management platform – labeled as Smart Energy Services Platform – for utilities to support all the end-to-end business processes necessary for the deployment and ongoing operation of a smart meter estate.

If you’re an M2C BPO provider that hasn’t yet considered including smart metering services in your portfolio, are you still debating the future of smart metering?

Learn more about M2C BPO at Everest Group’s May 10 webinar.

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