Today's utilities face many new challenges that threaten profitability. Ever-volatile energy prices are reaching new highs, pressuring margins and forcing price increases. Consumer demand is on the rise. Safety and security are a major concern. An aging workforce is being replaced by a new workforce with less experience. Customer service has become even more critical than ever before in maintaining customer retention and regulatory compliance. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) guidelines and mandates effecting Smart Metering and AMI as well as SAIDI, CAIDI, SAIFI and MAIFI all require or strongly urge utilities to meet increased metrics for uptime and customer satisfaction. And in the face of increasing environmental regulatory demands, key stakeholders — including investors, customers and regulators — are concerned about the utility's ability to continue to meet cost containment expectations.
To address these challenges, the utility must find a way to balance multiple initiatives without significantly impacting operational costs. Production must be increased to meet rising demand. Customer service must be improved. And shareholder value must be increased to spur investment in the company. To manage these seemingly overwhelming issues without a significant rise in pricing, the utility needs to achieve an extraordinary level of efficiency throughout all operations — from production to field and customer service and accounting. An enterprise-wide strategy that enables the interconnection of the utility's infrastructure, workforce and customers can unlock the efficiencies that are trapped in manual processes — helping utilities meet the many challenges today while providing a platform to support the challenges of tomorrow.