During our Esri/Clearion webinar on “Crank up your Contractor Engagement: Essential GIS Tools and Tips,” in February, we received a number of questions. Since we love to answer questions and share knowledge, we welcome you to the first installation in our series, “RAQs: Randomly Asked Questions.”
Question: How do you guys see the speed of contractor adoption changing in the years to come?
We’re moving into a new age where utilities now understand that vegetation work management solutions are required in order to operate effectively. We’ve been watching this evolve for ten years. When we founded Clearion, we were addressing an emerging need; we didn’t jump into this in the middle of the adoption cycle. At that time, budgets were rarely in place and we were working with early adopters. Now, we’re solidly in the middle of the technology adoption cycle. Utilities have very defined needs and are asking contractors to utilize technology to meet them.
From a contractor perspective, companies are now seeing that the type of technology they’re getting from solution providers like Clearion is improving their business across functions like operations, administration, customer service, etc. In other words, we’re experiencing a push from the contractor side along with a mainstream pull from utilities and asset owners. This is what we want, need and expect.
Over the years, we’ve seen technology adoption within electric utility industry happen in a number of ways. When I started my career in the mid nineties, GIS essentially did not exist within the electric utility industry. Paper maps were getting converted to AutoCAD files. We’ve since watched adoption increase. Now there are few (perhaps now no) utilities in the country who don’t have asset GIS or outage management. The majority of utilities would never think of running without electronic billing or outage management. Soon it will be the case that utilities will not operate with vegetation management contractors in any sort of paper mode. It simply won’t be an accepted mode of doing business. Detailed, complete and accurate contractor records are becoming an expectation of the asset owners. There’s too much opportunity for efficiency on either side of the vendor/customer equation. The stakes are too high.
It’s hard to predict exactly when this will become mandatory but the pace is definitely picking up. Like boulders that move slowly but, over time, pick up speed and become unstoppable, we believe technology adoption for vegetation management is inevitable.