Part Four of our series “The Success of 5G Deployment Depends on these 4 Key Industry Changes.” Read the other articles here.
Not so long ago, utility companies could think about each proposed joint use field job as a project with a clear beginning, middle, and end. For example, let’s say a service provider wanting to attach equipment to the asset owner’s poles, or another structure, would submit a permit to attach (or permitting) request. The asset owner, typically a utility, communications company or municipality, would collect or review data on the specific pole or poles and make a decision. If approved, the equipment would be installed, and followed by a final inspection. The project would be complete.
In today’s environment, the ongoing deployment of infrastructure to support 5G technology is changing the nature of the industries involved in keeping everyone connected. The amount of equipment being attached to structures and the sheer number of interactions required to ensure this work occurs swiftly has created a new reality.5G requires a dense cellular network that is taking shape largely in the form of thousands of small cell units attached to utility poles, streetlights, buildings and other structures. If viewed as a seemingly endless series of individual projects, this prospect can feel daunting. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Changing our mindset can greatly help in many ways.
5G is just the beginning, Alden Systems’ CEO John Sciarabba says. “What comes next are more assets that use the 5G network to provide new services, along with more assets being deployed, more structures being utilized, and more types of structures involved.”
In an interview with Energy Central, Sciarabba identified four mindset shifts that stakeholders may consider to optimize the 5G rollout and the technological evolution this effort will empower:
- Recognize that the parties involved share a common objective.
- Respect the constraints and goals for each party beyond the main objective.
- Realize and understand the need to be data driven.
- Shift from a project mindset to process mindset.
The first three concepts create a sound new base from which companies can evolve. A process-based approach is the final shift that will propel the power, communications and broadband industries into a new way of doing business, with better technology and growing opportunity. Central to having a process mindset is understanding that data must be shared and flow easily to the right people. Multiple internal and external stakeholders need to easily access data to act quickly.
Go with the Flow
Modern technological tools make it easier for companies to efficiently collect detailed, accurate, usable data on their assets, but that’s only the beginning. Advanced asset management software makes it possible to create a smooth flow of “living” data that enables multiple people to meet the demands of continually evolving technology, not just here and now, but downstream as well.
The pace of 5G deployment and other emerging technologies is likely to remain hectic for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, 5G will unlock the vast potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities, revolutionizing everything from traffic flow and transportation to security, manufacturing, and energy management. This, in turn, will require the distribution of millions of sensors throughout the public landscape that will create better communities through better infrastructure.
Speed is an important factor in 5G deployment. Optimizing the pace is a key to keeping the United States and Canada’s businesses competitive internationally, but speed also matters in terms of reducing inequality in the opportunities available to citizens, as discussed in a Brookings Institution report.
A process-based approach is essential for the companies tasked with creating the infrastructure for all this new technology. They require scalable, repeatable ways to keep the large volume of jobs, like individual attachment permits, transfers and required make-ready work moving through the pipeline. Those taking a project-by-project approach may find themselves too slow to meet these challenges and stay competitive. And because the project never really ends, it’s difficult to feel a sense of accomplishment. When this work is viewed as an ongoing process, successfully meeting individual milestones help dissuade the notion of never getting ahead.
Streamlining communication helps to meet pressing time constraints, but only when data is organized in a way that makes sharing clear and easy to interpret.
Powerful utility data management software, like Alden One, performs much of the legwork in organizing, analyzing, and utilizing utility asset data. The technology also provides for customized data sharing with partners, making it easy to separate information for internal and external use.
Alden One allows businesses to create a largely automated process to ensure activities continue moving along without hiccups from request to review to approval to installation and final inspection and back again. The software helps save valuable time and keeps personnel free to focus their attention on actual decision-making, including considerations for safety and reliability. It also simplifies reporting by using dashboards for transparency, whether for regulations, meeting company standards or tracking progress.
Perhaps best of all, the data updates throughout time and remains accessible to be used in making future predictions and decisions. The scalable processes a company establishes will position it to take on new business as the technological transformation of society accelerates.
Be Ready for What Comes Next
The coming IoT buildout will be a huge undertaking full of opportunity for companies that are ready and equipped to take advantage of it. Smart grids will bring a new level of efficiency to the energy sector, for example:
- Traffic will flow more smoothly.
- Streetlights will know when they’re needed and when they’re not.
- Public and private security systems will be stronger.
- Sensors will direct drivers (or self-driving automobiles) to the nearest available parking space.
This exciting future depends on getting the necessary infrastructure in place at the right time. Companies that demonstrate they can deliver will have plenty of work and the processes in place to manage it.
5G, and the high-tech future it promises, will pay dividends to companies that are able to adjust to a new, more streamlined, and collaborative way of doing business. As Alden’s Sciarabba says, “If we go into it with a project mindset, we are never going to catch up because this is just going to continue to evolve.” A platform like Alden One offers clarity and control through business process automation and plays a vital role in helping companies finesse this transition.
Alden One is designed to take large amounts of data and make it useful and actionable, by automating business processes using workflows, customizable data sharing options, and integration with enterprise management systems. Our team is ready to help you get the most out of our software and assist in designing the workflows that will streamline your day-to-day work as well as long-term planning.
If you are interested in learning more about Alden’s products and services, contact a product specialist here.