The new generation of Customer Information Systems provides many features which previously required a separate Meter Data Management system. By having a broad range of functions provided by a single solution, utilities can consolidate their IT systems and increase the efficiency of their commercial and operational processes. Here are five key features which show how the modern CIS has removed the necessity of a stand-alone MDM system.
1. AMI enablement
The enabling of AMI operations such as sending commands to smart meters can be achieved without investment in meter data systems. Through the use of an integration mechanism, often known as an AMI Gateway, the CIS is capable of interacting with smart meters to collect data through head-end systems, execute commands, and manage events.
Having an AMI-enabled CIS simplifies technological ecosystems and also allows utilities to increase the efficiency of their operations by effectively integrating usage data with customer information.
2. More effective meter reading and VEE processes
For years, Customer Information Systems have helped detect errors during the analog metering process. Nowadays, these systems also detect usage anomalies, perform estimation where required, and allow analysts to manually correct incorrect readings according to company policies. Many modern CIS systems come with preconfigured processes for validating, estimating, and editing (VEE) which reduce the need for manual adjustments and make it easier than ever to assure the quality of metering data.
3. Streamlined metering and billing processes with a single solution
Customer Information Systems are evolving to support the design of complex rates structures; a development powered by the advances of distributed generation technologies and demand-side management programs. This situation increases the complexity of calculating billing determinants, which need to be aligned with the different pricing programs that utilities offer to their customers.
New generation CIS solutions offer a single answer to these problems, streamlining the performance of billing by reducing integration needs. By bringing together a wide range of processes in this way, these solutions assure that meter and billing data are synchronized while also managing to avoid all the issues which can occur when there are multiple systems storing the same information.
4. Provide information directly to end-users in real-time
Self-service portals are gradually becoming the preferred contact channel for customers; this is because they can perform a broad range of functions with an increasing level of automation. In fact, it is forecasted that by 2020, 85% of all customer-company relationships will be managed without human interaction. Bearing this in mind, self-service portals have an essential role to play in any smart metering strategy due to their impact on customer satisfaction.
An all-in-one CIS can provide end users with real-time information about their services, usage, and rates through self-service applications. Smart metering is all about creating more value for end users and an MDMS-enabled CIS solution is the perfect tool to make that happen. The most advanced CIS solutions allow customers to compare their usage with their neighbors and view dashboards that correlate service usage with other factors such as rates and temperature.
5. Insights into operational and commercial processes
Smart metering has led to massive meter data, which opens the door to a broad range of applications which would not be possible under a traditional meter reading system. The new generation of CIS offers analytic capabilities that can use this data to generate meaningful insights, helping utilities to form a broad understanding of their business, effectively assess customer experience, and make better decisions about each stage of the business cycle.
The new generation of CIS benefits utilities with a lower total cost of ownership and leads to a more synchronized business cycle. When choosing the technology that will assist your smart metering business strategy, be sure to pick a solution that encompasses metering, billing, and customer-facing processes, as this powerful formula can streamline business operations and provide customers with a better overall experience.