As the U.S. electric power industry unbundles, the industry and its regulators grapple with two big questions concerning the degree to which distribution services should be unbundled. First, what...
Moving Off the Mainframe
to convert all of a utility's data? Then an evolutionary conversion makes sense. This strategy offers three primary options: functional, geographic, or customer-segmented.
A geographic approach involves building a full-function CIS and rolling it out to users by geographic area. This option may reduce risk, but it won't speed up conversion, since the whole new system must be built before use. Functional conversions also fall short, due to complications from redundant data. During the transition period, "dual everything" is the problem: dual hardware and maintenance to keep both systems going, dual operations staff, dual skill sets (em not to mention headaches in synchronization and control.
The customer approach offers the most promise. For example, the utility might convert the CIS first for noncore customers, those most at risk for bypass or fuel-switching. Nevertheless, like functional conversions, a customer-segment approach will create redundant data.
As with all aspects of CIS conversion, each utility must set its own path, then work toward a solution that will best position the firm for competitive advantage. t
Melvin Schick is a partner in Anderson Consulting, specializing in the utility industry and high technology. Mr. Schick has an MBA from Tulane University and a BA in Mathematics from Ripon College.
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