April 1, 1997
In late February, approximately 150 AM/FM/GIS executives spent two days in central Florida at an event sponsored by Intergraph Corp. called the Vision Worldwide Symposium—another in the series of Intergraph’s "Vision" Symposia. This "by invitation only" event was an intensive two-day forum for executives of the utility and telecommunications industries, and leading information technology (IT) vendors. Overall, the Symposium was used by all parties involved as a forum for sharing ideas and strategies that empower the enterprise, enabling it to be more competitive.
Tommy Steele, president of Intergraph Software Solutions (ISS) presented Intergraph’s Utility and Telecom Vision. Jim Meadlock, Intergraph’s chairman and CEO, discussed the Internet and technology trends. In addition, executives from Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, and SAP presented their respective views of applicable technologies for the near- and mid-term future.
Collectively, all of these vendor presentations mixed well with presentations from end users on real-world working projects. As examples, executives from Kansas City Power & Light, and Texas Utilities presented very interesting material about their projects. Other projects discussed included those by Future Horizons, Mountain Fuel Supply, El Paso Energy, Continental Cablevision, and Central & Southwest.
Detroit Edison presented an excellent demonstration entitled, "Taking Advantage of the Web," where we heard the term enterprise-WISE (Wide Information System Environment) used for the first time.
Several of the speakers throughout the course of the Symposium stressed that now is the time for GIS or AM/FM/GIS to be implemented in the mainstream as an integral part of enterprise-wide IT solutions.
The Symposium’s recurring theme was the acceleration and seemingly increasing scarcity of time. Where paybacks previously were measured in terms of years, today, many payback periods are measured in terms of weeks, and even sometimes days. All utilities must make a commitment to technology leadership, production, and implementation. If they are to survive, utilities must become "best of breed" organizations to keep pace with computing hardware systems that are doubling in performance approximately every 18 months.
Several utilities made it clear that they wanted to be recognized as the best. Without exception, these organizations with high aspirations had clear visions of their end products and had or in the process of re-engineering to reach their product goal. These same organizations plan to continue to provide their enterprises with leading-edge technologies. They also plan to enjoy the benefits of these new technologies early, and say they have no time to wait for implementing these technologies. One executive said, "Sooner is better than better."
Some of the forces driving the utilities to accelerate their implementation of new technologies include restructuring, competition; increased customer expectations; ability to adapt and change rapidly; posturing for deregulation; and the necessity of establishing and maintaining strong industry partnerships.
This latest Vision Symposium was right on target in the way it discussed the world that utilities live in today, while discussing how they will survive and prosper in the future. It’s discussions like these found at the Vision Symposium that keep us all abreast of fast evolving technologies and their place in the world of utilities.n
Editor’s Note: This report was compiled by Hank Emery, founder, president, and senior consultant with Emery & Associates (Denver, CO).