Published on in Energy & UtilitiesDigital Transformation

It’s no secret that we are living through difficult times.

The recent crisis has caused disruption on an unprecedented scale. Supply chains have been unravelled. Shops have closed. And many employees can’t even leave their homes.

For businesses, keeping the lights on has never been such a challenge.

And that’s literally true for utility organisations.

This is the pain felt by one of our utilities clients. With millions of customers up and down the UK who rely on them to power their homes.

Hot water and warm houses are vital for all of us. But none more so than the most vulnerable in our society, for whom a power outage can have devastating consequences.

The importance of contact centres cannot be understated. For vulnerable people, they’re a lifeline – the linchpin connecting them to their energy provider, enabling advice to be dispensed and maintenance teams to be dispatched as quickly as possible.

Our client has multiple contact centres – each of which employs thousands of people.

The challenge for us during this pandemic, was to empower contact centre staff to work with their usual efficiency and productivity from their own homes.

Rising to the challenge

I think this is a really special story.

Not least because, as we were helping our client pivot to remote working, we were going through the same transition ourselves.

There was a real ‘we’re in it together’ mentality. And I think knowing the responsibility our client has as a critical infrastructure provider motivated us to go that extra mile. So much so, many of our employees volunteered to work weekends to get the job done.

Overall, our teams built over 3,000 laptop devices in just two weeks, enabling key workers to connect to the office network from home.

For one of our client’s key businesses, we were able to mobilise a team of 30 engineers, build and ship devices over a weekend –  and have contact centre agents working from home by Monday morning.

Aside from hardware, we worked on the infrastructure side too. In particular, we increased our client’s Citrix Cloud platform’s capacity from 9,000 users to 13,000 users. This enabled more employees than ever to access corporate services from home.

Along with this, we trebled our client’s VPN capacity, allowing it to be used by 7,500 users simultaneously – up from 2,500 previously.

These changes – along with plenty of others – really made the difference. They enabled our client to seamlessly pivot to remote working, empowering them to service their customers as effectively as they could working in an office.

Ready for anything

Our teams really went above and beyond. But another factor in the success was that our client had already embraced digital technology underpinned by cloud. These technologies supported a rapid change in connectivity methods and consumption of IT service.

Of course, it wasn’t on the scale needed to deal with the crisis. But cloud was already a part of our client’s way of working – giving their workforce additional agility and flexibility. Essentially, we built on a solid foundation.

Luckily, many other businesses have similarly started their transformation journey.

Before the crisis, we were already going through a workplace revolution. The ability to work anytime and anyplace – all from any device – was quickly becoming the norm. And this will only continue going into the future.

If any positives can be salvaged from the pandemic, one of them will be the acceleration of digital transformation. The workplace of the future has very much become a present-day reality, and businesses will be keen to preserve its benefits.

As we move further into a cloud-first future, businesses will become more flexible. Workforces will be more mobile. And continuity plans will be capable of reacting to unprecedented uncertainty.

Cloud based services can give a business so much versatility. Whether it’s a parent wanting to work from home to spend more time with their children, or a pandemic that puts the entire office out of action – workforces can have the apps, data, and communication channels needed to keep working as normal.

Covid-19 has been devastating – yet the success stories provide hope for all of us. I’m certain as businesses continue to transform, they’ll become robust enough to survive if anything like this happens again.

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