Welcome to the Information Age
A few months ago, in this column, I wrote about the information technology revolution we are experiencing. Since that time I have heard some say that our society is leaving the industrial age behind and is in the early phase of a new age–the information age. Information is becoming more and more important in today`s world. According to Rick Barrera, featured speaker at the recent Automatic Meter Reading Association Symposium held in Chicago, a fundamental change is occurring. Unlike the industrial age where demand exceeded supply, in the information age, supply will exceed demand. The customer now owns the marketplace, Barrera said.
This statement is a cause of great concern to many utilities. Historically, utilities have had users, not customers (customers have a choice of service providers). However, this is changing. Users are quickly becoming customers, with not only a choice of which company will provide their services, but also with a choice of which services they will purchase. In order to compete and remain profitable, utilities must know the customer. They must be able to obtain information, or data, quickly and often, and use it to satisfy customers` needs and wants. Utilities must employ technology that will help them learn about, not only their own customers, but the competition`s customers as well.
In this issue of Utility Automation you will find articles dealing with integrating information systems and data. For the past several years, utilities have been implementing various information systems, resulting in improved and streamlined processes. These efficiency improvements have been very important, but it is now time to forge ahead. Today`s aggressive utilities are integrating information systems, allowing data to be shared across the entire company. This information sharing is aimed at providing the right people with the right customer information, thus ensuring adequate knowledge about the customer.
I hope you find this issue`s articles about data integration technology and trends, as well as the other articles, insightful and useful.