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Four ways utilities and the NFL are aligned

Stephen Hill
Sr. Content Development Specialist

Football and utilities have similar data points

At last, it’s the big game, the last two teams standing, and the NFL will crown its champion. Super Bowl LIV (that’s no. 54) is less than two weeks away, and it also marks the completion of the 100th season for the NFL.

Millions of Americans gather in front of big screens, and in sports bars from coast-to-coast to watch this national spectacle, the largest competitive sporting event in our country. Baseball may be the national pastime, but football is America’s obsession.

As we prepare our snacks and beverages for the big game next Sunday, let’s take a look at the ways the NFL and the utility industry are more alike than perhaps anyone realized. Oh, and a side note: chicken wings, pizza and guacamole are in the top 5 favorite foods served at Super Bowl watch parties. Just something to whet your appetite. Beer and soft drinks are statistically tied for the most consumed beverages.

1. Analytics
Yes, football is about crunching tackles, but now it’s also about crunching numbers. Nearly every NFL team has an analytics department diving deep into data. Teams now use data for all aspects of the game, from player evaluation in the draft, to tracking movement on the field. Even play calling is data driven. Coaches especially rely on data to decide whether they should go for it or punt on those exciting fourth and short plays.

Utilities are using data too, a lot more data. Every second of every day utilities receive massive amounts from millions of meters, nodes and sensors. Some experts predict there will be seven trillion sensors in the world within five years, and the amount of data sent could be in the exabytes.

That’s data the utilities use for managing grid networks, asset inventory and customer interactions.

Analytics have become important to the NFL, but it’s even more critical to the operations of utilities.


2. Competition
The core of football is competition, from Pop Warner to the professional level. Not knowing the outcome is the reason fans buy tickets and viewers tune in every week. This means there’s a winner and a loser. The better the team, the more it wins, and fans follow winners.

Competition is more complex for utilities. Retail competition for customers didn’t develop like everyone assumed it would 15 years ago. It seems utilities are really good and efficient at delivering their core product, mostly power, but also natural gas and water.

Where utilities are seeing competitors sneaking into their customer’s homes and businesses, is on the edge of the networks. Customers now have distributed energy resources, DERs, everywhere, and the tech giants want to help the utility customer manage their energy consumption through these devices. It’s competition utilities didn’t see happening even five years ago, but it’s here, and these are dollars and opportunities utilities should not give up easily. Check out Opower’s edge-of-the-grid customer engagement tool to help with this competition blitz.


Analytics have become important to the NFL, but it’s even more critical to the operations of utilities.


3. It’s a year-round business
There is no more off-season in the NFL, or even colleges and some of the higher level high school programs. After the season is over, coaches, general managers and scouts prepare for the draft. Players do off-season workout programs, and in the summer there are organized team activities, OTAs, which leads directly into the pre-season training camps.

Utilities don’t even have the luxury of an off-season. Customers expect that when a switch is flipped, a tap turned, or a thermostat adjusted that lights come on, water flows, and homes are heated. That means field workers are dispatched 24/7/365 in all sorts of weather conditions. Customer service centers are operated 24 hours, including holidays, and that billing is accurate and timely.


4. Planning is only part of the game
There’s an old saying in football: It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the Jimmy’s and Joe’s. Meaning great players make great plays. It’s the same with utilities, great employees make great companies, be it Jimmy, Joe, Susie or Sara.

If you want to up your utility game with tools that will elevate employees to MVPs and superstars, check out everything Oracle Utilities can offer.


Oracle Utilities, including Opower, partners with the world's hardest working electric, water and natural gas companies to empower, enhance and enable your every single day. From cloud-native products and better grid management tools to support for every single step of your customer's journey, we have the answer. Learn more at oracle.com/utilities. Get specific product information as quick as clicking right here.


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