The true power of a modern outage management system (OMS) doesn’t come from that single piece of software. Rather, utilities can integrate their OMS deployments with other key technology tools to enable powerful benefits for multiple departments and strengthen their ability to respond to any disruptions or interruptions.
Outages are where utilities prove themselves – the relationship between a provider and its customer base is defined in the way these situations are handled. This adds extra importance to finding an ideal OMS, one that connects with other systems in intelligent ways and improves the overall performance of the organization.
Targets for OMS integration
The following are a few of the most important systems to integrate with an OMS, delivering more comprehensive capabilities during outages and service interruptions:
Interactive voice response (IVR)
Working hard on outage resolution is essential when utility service goes down. There is another side to successful management of such an event, however: communication with the public. If residential and business customers don’t have an effective way to learn the status of an interruption or report further problems, the result can be uncertainty and dissatisfaction.
Close integration between OMS and IVR tools is therefore an important part of any comprehensive deployment. An advanced IVR solution that automates simple customer interactions and functions over communication methods such as text and voice calling can be a major boon to customer contact and back-office efficiency.
Geographic information systems (GIS)
What is the location of a problem – the exact location? Utilities that have this information are better able to resolve the issue quickly and effectively. This is why connectivity between an OMS and GIS is so important. Maps that tell field crews exactly where to go, and allow zooming in for extreme levels of detail during a crisis, are valuable parts of outage resolution.
The value of GIS increases when an integrated OMS also supports mobile functionality. This enables personnel in the field and stakeholders in the office to both work with the same maps. Mapping the locations of crews, potential problems and even meter status allows utilities to manage their responses with a new level or precision and detail.
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
A pillar of the so-called smart grid, AMI enables utilities to have access to more granular data about resource consumption patterns. The Department of Energy noted in its 2020 review of AMI deployment to the power grid that these systems’ ability to integrate with other technology tools is part of their value case. Now that there is rich data flowing in from consumers’ meters, what can utilities do with that information? One of the most straightforward answers involves plugging the content into an OMS.
When a customer calls in to report an issue with power – for example, unexpected dimming of the lights – the connection between OMS and AMI can determine whether there is a fault in the grid impacting service in the area. Whether depending on automated interrupted connection alerts or manual pings to determine infrastructure status, office personnel can gather relevant data from AMI that will inform outage resolution efforts.
Customer-facing mobile applications are part of the way utilities connect with their audiences today. E-Source noted that these apps provide a valuable part of the customer relationship by acting as a user-friendly one-stop portal for dealing with utility issues. When OMS data is integrated with these individual apps, it increases the value of the app. After all, the status of an outage is one of the highest-priority pieces of information a consumer will want to learn from a utility provider.
There is another side to mobile app OMS integration: internal apps. When linemen have purpose-built applications for their smartphones and tablets, consistent real-time data is available to them in the field, through an interface that is easy to use. Also, when functions such as managing work orders are accessible on mobile devices, the whole outage resolution process becomes simpler and more streamlined, and the resulting activities are immediately visible to all stakeholders, in the office and the field.
Time for OMS deployment
Utilities that don’t have a modern OMS in place and integrated with other tech solutions are at a disadvantage when a service interruption occurs. Every part of the process, from identifying the site of a problem to managing customer questions and communicating with personnel in the field can be eased by the use of an OMS, and these process improvements add up to a better experience overall. The impact of an OMS can be felt and appreciated both internally and externally.
To learn the specifics about a well-integrated OMS deployment’s impact on utilities of all sizes and descriptions, view the success stories from providers that have already adopted DataVoice’s cutting-edge offerings.