In Retrospect For the Future
With only three years to go, the world will be ringing in a new millennium. For those utilities anticipating a new dynamic environment, preparation is under way to become a vital player in the competitive energy market. Their success will depend on their ability to embrace new technologies to stay competitive. This underlies an organizational belief in growth and progress.
After all, world history has taught us that the ultimate answer to any civilization`s success depends on its belief system. For example, the West, including Europe and the United States, succeeded in becoming a global leader in science and technology because it envisioned the world as one in which improvement is possible and growth inevitable. It evolved a cultural system based on the concept of progress, establishing the conditions for its domination of the globe.
Just as the West`s advancement was precipitated by its belief in progress, other societies declined because of the shackles placed on them by their own world views. China, for example, was the world`s most advanced civilization in the fifteenth century. Up to that time, China had a thriving maritime culture whose ships had sailed to Africa and through the Persian Gulf. However, as Confucianism tightened its hold on China`s culture and government, its laws started prohibiting the construction of ocean-going vessels. As a result of the Confucian ideals, which scorned military and commercial activities, China missed an entire era of global modernization and entered into a five-century decline. China is now developing into a world economic power due to its shift in thinking toward commerce and technology.
The West`s ethos of progress also encouraged it to develop a love for science, which spawned the technology used in exploration and war. For example, Spain`s shipbuilding technology in the fifteenth century led to its discovery of the New World. Spain also developed the weaponry to expel the Arabs, who also had previous conquests in the Middle East and North Africa.
Today`s industries can still learn from our rich world history. As Maura O`Neill (this issue`s guest Perspectives columnist) points out, innovations in information technology have played a great role in the success of many companies throughout various industries. Still, the utilities industry has been cautious to embrace this crucial role of automation. The industry must comprehend that it must take action in order to maintain a strong level of growth and progress. In addition to progress, a recurring theme throughout this issue`s feature articles is capturing `enterprise-wide` information to address the forces of a new deregulated environment while creating a competitive edge. Let`s keep an eye open for future developments.