Owners and operators will increasingly use data and analytics to unlock operational efficiencies.
As the world becomes more adept at turning data into insights, massive opportunities will emerge for infrastructure owners, operators and planners. Indeed, over the coming year, we expect to see more and more resources go towards uncovering the insights that will enable unprecedented efficiency across the infrastructure life cycle.
Operators will be using data and analytics to unlock operational efficiencies – increasing productivity, extending asset life spans and reducing operating and maintenance costs. Planners will use data and analytics to not only create much stronger alignment between supply and demand, but also to improve the overall effectiveness of the planning process. Regulators will be using data and analytics to better govern and oversee infrastructure delivery. And investors will use it to assess the value and resilience of their investments.
As ‘rule of thumb’ gives way to evidence-based decision-making and infrastructure players become more analytics-savvy, we also expect to see decision-makers place much greater value on the insights they can gather from predictive analytics.
There is already a significant number of organisations that are able to predict maintenance and operational issues before they become bigger problems. One mobile network operator now says they are able to foresee outages seven days before they occur; the organisation is not only preventing outages from happening (thereby protecting their brand and their revenues), they are also saving on operational costs by ensuring they are conducting the right maintenance at precisely the right time to keep their assets performing optimally.
As we suggested in last year's Emerging Trends, governments will likely need to take a lead role in encouraging and facilitating data and analytics within the infrastructure sector, particularly with respect to planning.
In part, this will require government to start opening up and better curating their data so that owners and operators can uncover more valuable insights. And that will force authorities to find a balance between the desire to improve analytics and the need to regulate the use of data (particularly when it comes to safety, security and privacy). However, in the longer-term, we believe that concerns about privacy will abate as the societal value of data becomes better understood and better means of protecting anonymity are developed.
Over the coming decade, we expect this trend to only increase in importance. In part, this is because we are only now starting to scratch the surface of what the data can tell us; better data and better analytics capabilities will surely unlock insights we never anticipated. But it is also because cultures are changing; decision-makers are starting to put greater trust in their analytics rather than being forced to rely on past practice and gut feel.
Data-driven efficiency is not sexy stuff; investments into enhanced data and analytics likely won’t command any photo ops or grab any headlines. But we believe that it will almost certainly unlock massive value for infrastructure owners, operators and – most importantly – the end users.