Published on in Energy & UtilitiesDigital Transformation

There are many awards in the industry. But for me, the most important ones are those that give recognition to projects that are making incredible impacts in people’s lives. This is what the Connected Society Award is all about.

While innovative technology is a main enabler for entrants, it’s people that sit at the heart of these projects. And if anything, they serve as examples of how much of a difference businesses can make, even during the darkest of times.

One business that demonstrates this people-first focus is this year’s winner Centrica, where the team created a Global Virtual Workplace for British Gas.

Centrica built a flexible and scalable platform by partnering with Fujitsu and Citrix. The project’s aim was to establish the ability to adapt quickly to market pressures and unforeseen challenges.

Of course, the platform’s flexibility has been swiftly tested with the arrival of Covid-19. During this time the platform has been quickly scaled to provide more than 13,000 Centrica employees with internet access.

This holds two major benefits for safety and experience. Firstly, it means Centrica Contact Centre teams can work remotely, and for many of them this will be for the first time ever. Secondly, it means customers, including the most vulnerable, can receive the help they need as soon as they begin experiencing problems with their energy supply.

The Global Virtual Workplace at Centrica has been quick to acclimatise to the challenge the pandemic brings. Its success is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of the teams involved in this project.

I’ve been lucky enough to witness this project germinate from a seed of idea through to delivery. And having seen the hurdles the team has overcome and outcomes they’ve achieved, I can safely say Centrica’s win is thoroughly deserved.

Everyone involved faced the challenge of working with new technologies. But through the expertise on this project, due to the collaboration with Fujitsu and Citrix, challenges were overcome as they arose.

Managing a collaborative project between three organisations can always threaten to dilute or delay projects. But the Centrica team embraced the dynamic by working to joint goals and objectives as well as ensuring clarity at all times.

From my perspective this is what has built the foundation for Centrica’s success. The team has been able to turn around a project that would usually take years in a matter of months, which demonstrates the agility that has been threaded throughout the work from start to finish.

Of course, from an operational perspective this speed is positive. But it’s the reactive agility in meeting customer and employee needs that’s the true achievement.

The portability that the Global Virtual Workplace has created means Call Centre employees can continue to work in a safe and convenient environment, which makes them feel valued.

The agility of this project also brings vulnerable customers the immediate support they need, especially during the current pressures of life.

The technology may have enabled these benefits, but it’s the human impact that has won Centrica the Connected Society Award. And it’s this that makes me proud to have been part of this project, even from a spectator perspective.

So, congratulations to the Centrica team!

The efforts of the Centrica team that I’ve covered in this blog are just the tip of the iceberg. You can read more about why their project has been so successful here.

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