One of the most interesting presentations I have seen in the last year is one by Bradley Williams, a utility Research Director at Gartner. Brad has many many years experience in the West Coast electric power industry. In his talk he covered a number of trends and issues facing the utility industry, but the one that really struck home was his analysis of data redundancy in the electric power industry, which many of us have been aware of as a result of analyzing how engineering design data moves through a utility organizations.
Brad showed one example (that's Brad's arm in the picture) which involved the lifecycle of a pole from design through build/construction, line extension, test and treat, joint use inspection, storm damage, safety inspection, idling and finally removal. The incredible part of the pole story is that Brad identified nine separate groups within the organization managing very much the same pole data, but usually independently, including Mapping, Connectivity/GIS, Outage Management (OMS), Estimating, Joint Use, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), and others. This is clearly an efficiency issue, but it's more than that, because when management asks how many poles the company has, potentially there will be nine different answers.