It could be argued that the potential for success of a particular innovation can be measured by its effect on the existing technology operating around it. If that’s the case, then smart meters are here to stay.

According to one recent study, utilities are making a strong push to acquire the necessary software systems that will enable them to manage the data they acquire from smart meters.

The Boulder, Colo.-based market research firm, Pike Research, projects that 98 percent of smart meters will be covered by a meter data management systems (MDMS) by the year 2018.

Both smart meters and MDMS have been around for about a decade. However, the elements have not necessarily worked in concert with one another, nor have they been adopted together by utilities.

As more utilities roll out smart meters though, the need for sophisticated software to manage the extensive data they generate has also grown. MDMS have also changed and are emerging as the technology that will fill that role.

According to Bob Lockhart, a senior analyst with Pike Research, MDMS and smart meters will enable utilities to do three essential things with the vast quantities of data they will be receiving. Sophisticated analysis of customer bills will lead to better financial management. Anticipating outages and consolidating repair assignments will improve operational management. Lastly, the data systems will allow them to create portals and other services to improve customer engagement.

MDMS will enable utilities to “function more efficiently than ever before,” he said.

According to the Pike report, “Meter Data Management,” total worldwide revenue from MDMS software and services will increase almost tenfold, reaching $490 million by 2018.