SSP Productivity and Utility Digital Transformation

January 9, 2022 — Geoffrey West

The current state of utility data management is the culmination of over 100 years of innovation and strategy which has focused on providing exemplary customer service. Whether this strategy consists of employees marking up physical maps in the field for an asset installation or using state-of-the-art tools which calculate time to restoration from an outage, the tools have been a medium to the static goal of customer service and safety. In the age of digital transformation, we can provide the same level of customer service and safety but at a higher fidelity with streamlined workflows and business processes.  Digital transformation as defined by Gartner can refer to anything from IT modernization to digital optimization. Thus, Esri’s and SSP’s solutions and services are at the core of a utility’s digital transformation efforts.

The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) considers Business architecture, Application architecture, Data architecture, and Technical architecture.  These individual domains can act as inputs for understanding the origin and destination of an organization’s transformation. Table 1 illustrates how SSP Productivity fits into TOGAF’s architectural domains. SSP Productivity as the tool that utilities use to extend and manage their digital transformation workflows against Esri’s Utility Network fits into all the above-mentioned domains, thus acting as a total catalyst for change of an organization. The chart below captures the different architectural domains that SSP Productivity fits into.

Architectural Domain Description
Business Formulates key business processes, governance guidelines, organization structure, and business strategy into a well-defined, well-understood, unified whole. Describes how the current business processes work and how they should work to meet the intended business goals.

In this example this is the problem that the customer wants to solve with SSP Productivity:

  • I want to be able to view and edit associations visually
  • The business requires a mass rec and post of edits and features that are created.
  • Our organization needs to move from a legacy system to a modern system that aligns with Esri’s vision for the Utility Network
  • We can make edits against the geometric network with a legacy partner tool, we would like to maintain a similar workflow with SSP Productivity
Application Provides a blueprint of the application(s) that need to be developed to support the business goals defined. The logical service definitions of the application(s) to be created or refactored as well as a description of the interfaces that represent the given service.

In this example, this is the application of the business domain:

  • We require somebody to approve the edits prior to them being posted back to DEFAULT. This can be done by configuring a particular workflow with SSP Lifecycle
  • SSP Productivity Toolbar has a visual associations tool that allows users to visualize associations
Data The architectural domain under which logical and physical data models are developed. Activities include developing new data modes and refactoring existing ones. Identifies data management tools and technologies.

In this example we consider the Utility Network data model and how it relates to SSP Productivity:

  • Asset Types and Asset Groups and how they relate to SSP Productivity tools
  • Network Categories for Tracing and Phase Change
Technical Defines the hardware resources required to realize the intended architecture. This includes computing, network, and storage resources.

  • All things Esri and ArcGIS Enterprise
  • System Architecture and Design

Sitting on top of the ArcGIS Platform, SSP Productivity seamlessly integrates with the platform as a system of record, wherein SSP Productivity leverages the Utility Network data model to execute analyses such as tracing to allow end-users to identify open switches or valves within in a network or to make a mass phase change in a network. Figure 1 shows how the legacy solution of the geometric network has led to the digital transformation of the Utility Network. By leveraging a tool that extends the core capabilities and stays true to Esri’s mission of integrating and interconnected models to create digital representations of real-world assets in a geographic information system (GIS), organizations experience agility, flexibility, and alignment to the rapidly evolving technologies that help maintain and power our energy infrastructure. An example of how digital transformation has evolved can be seen in the example drawing below by Hawkins (1914).

Figure 1: Geometric Network to Utility Network Digital Transformation with SSP Productivity
Figure 2: Transformer and Attachment from Hawkins Electricity (1914)

He has hand-drawn the installation of a transformer on a pole, showing the method of attachment and disposition of the primary and secondary leads. With Esri’s Utility Network and SSP Productivity, we can illustrate a similar visual representation with the visual association tool. In the image below, several technical applications from the legacy representation can be transformed into a modern system. Figure 3 shows how SSP Productivity and Esri Utility Network visualize structural attachment association. This example shows how over the years and with incremental improvements, the end target has never changed, but only the medium in which we use to arrive.

Figure 3: SSP Productivity Visual Associations

As technologists, it is important for us to keep in mind that the goal is never the technology. It is simply a means to an end. Digital transformation in itself is an approach to incremental improvements of the enterprise, writ large. SSP Productivity seen through the lens of modern digital transformation is a tool that is much more than a client add-in or API calls. From a 10,000-foot view and in accordance with other enterprise tools, workflows, and considerations, it is truly a catalyst for digital transformation.

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Geoffrey West

Solution Architect

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