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Ecologic Analytics and Landis+Gyr -- Suitors Decide to Tie the Knot

o Jill Feblowitz
11.01.2012 kl 23:16 | IDC Energy Industry Insights Community

With the recent announcement that meter and AMI provider Landis+Gyr (L+G) will assume full ownership of meter data management (MDM) vendor Ecologic Analytics (EA) and Siemens acquiring eMeter, MDM appears to be a hot application these days. Although not broadcast as an MDM acquisition when it bought Telvent in May 2011, Schneider Electric also acquired an MDM application. The question for these movements is why now? It stands to reason that while the smart grid market continues to mature, early entrepreneurial entrants like EA would become part of larger companies. But that is not necessarily a given, if a company has failed to perform. That said, IDC Energy Insights sees this full ownership move as part of a broader trend in the industry for control and equipment companies to acquire software.

 

With the recent announcement that meter and AMI provider Landis+Gyr (L+G) will assume full ownership of meter data management (MDM) vendor Ecologic Analytics (EA) and Siemens acquiring eMeter, MDM appears to be a hot application these days. Although not broadcast as an MDM acquisition when it bought Telvent in May 2011, Schneider Electric also acquired an MDM application. The question for these movements is why now? It stands to reason that while the smart grid market continues to mature, early entrepreneurial entrants like EA would become part of larger companies. But that is not necessarily a given, if a company has failed to perform. That said, IDC Energy Insights sees this full ownership move as part of a broader trend in the industry for control and equipment companies to acquire software.

First is a bit on what full ownership means from the perspective of L+G/Toshiba. L+G acquires a solid MDM product with EA. The company has a well established history in the market and has shown that it can handle the scale of interval data being processed for millions of customers. In markets such as the competitive Texas market, where the MDM system has to process and deliver interval data by the next day to customers and to the retail data exchange, that is an accomplishment. As more and more utilities start to make use of the interval data -- not just the register data supplied by smart meters -- scale will become more of an issue. EA has had the prescience to address future scale requirements by continuing to fine tune its application through the incorporation of appliances like IBM's Informix.

For EA, this acquisition means that the company will have enhanced access to develop its product and extend into new markets. EA will likely have further access to funding for R&D, not to mention the expertise of an engineering company like L+G/Toshiba. L+G produces smart meters and supplies advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) while Toshiba brings the knowledge and opportunity related to consumer goods and energy businesses and access to extensive global and emerging markets.

For the utility technology buyer, the promise is for, in the long term, a better product with lowered total cost of ownership and data fidelity. That is the promise. But it does stand to reason that being grounded in the data and integrated from the point it leaves the meter, through the network, to the MDM can, with the right attention and investment, in the long run improve this process for the market as a whole. Itron can also make a similar contribution in having products across the meter to information process. In the short run, integration helps with the root cause analysis of data anomalies. Having integration from meter to AMI to MDM does not mean that a utility is locked in. EA and L+G are quick to point out that both companies will remain committed to interoperability. So, utilities will have the ability to choose their own combination of smart meters, AMI and MDM.

Meter data management is just the first step in realizing the value of smart meter data. It is an application that helps to rationalize the data, prepare it for presentation, and provide billing determinants to feed customer information systems -- it typically does not do billing functions. Utilities realize that the meter data can provide value in the areas of capital investment, outage management, and marketing to customers. In that respect, many vendors have built out analytics that can be applied to the meter data in the MDM. The jury remains out on whether utilities will use the MDM for production or analysis, as utilities consider building out operational data stores to provide quick queries or analytics. In many ways, the business analytics on meter data is where the need for scale and speed comes into play. No doubt L+G will be working to expand on business analytics capabilities for meter and other data.

Keywords: Industry Verticals  
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