Financial models within the utility industry are changing rapidly. Driven by competition, deregulation, and shareholder concern ov er profitability, North America's intermediate and larger-sized electric and gas companies are looking more closely at information technology (IT) investments. Regulators and the financial community are, or should be, watching such actions with equal interest.
Cost-benefit analysis has been applied to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Automated Mapping/Facilities Management (AM/FM) systems since the first commercial project was initiated by Public Service Co. of Colorado in the early 1970s. Since then, many of the thousands of analyses completed for such projects have used tools and techniques employed by utilities for other large capital-asset investments, especially computer systems. In many cases, utility GIS has not been viewed as mission-critical. Occasionally, some utilities have viewed GIS as a discretionary investment.
GIS is no longer just maps and records, it's about effectively operating transmission and distribution facilities, assisting in major capital-asset investment decisions, determining equipment replacement schedules, improving customer service, supporting a new wave of sales and marketing initiatives, and providing information about competitors, customer trends, economic development activity, and other strategic issues.
Statists vs. Dynamists