How ENGIE Electrabel is bringing ‘silence in IT’ to the energy sector while moving to Business 4.0
No one is on course for the energy revolution quite like ENGIE Electrabel. By championing the so-called ‘three D’s’ – decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitalisation – the Belgium-based subsidiary of ENGIE is leading the way towards a low-carbon future. Yet, the company’s digitisation strategy is not only helping it take up the fight against climate change, it is also aiding ENGIE Electrabel’s efforts towards operational excellence and customer satisfaction.
At the heart of the company’s digitisation is Chief Information Officer Marc-Grégoire Lallemand. IT is, by all accounts, a driver of business at ENGIE Electrabel Marketing & Sales activities, and Lallemand is confident that digitisation will be crucial in making its low-carbon, customer-focused vision a reality.
“At ENGIE, we’re really transforming the business,” Lallemand observes. “We have positioned ourselves as a company that goes beyond the standard sale of energy. We’re looking to produce more creative tools to make progress in the world, whether that’s for the environment or for our customers, and certainly, in my world of marketing and sales, it is extremely IT-driven.”
Silence in IT
Not only is Lallemand a CIO, he also describes himself as a Chief Silence Officer and is keen to promote a dual strategy based on silence in IT to enable a move to Business 4.0. With a strong presence spanning six continents and 70 countries, thousands of activities happen at ENGIE Group every day. For Lallemand, if the basic IT systems can run efficiently, silently, and at a reasonable cost, then his team can focus on projects that add value for its customers.
To meet the demands of Business 4.0, Lallemand and his team improved the company’s operational excellence whilst reducing its operating expense. Between 2011 and 2016, the firm reduced its IT operational costs by 40% and it intends to reduce it further thanks to its lean 2018 programme. By streamlining the basics and getting silence in IT, ENGIE Electrabel has gained the freedom and resources to focus on disruptive digital tools.
“You cannot move to Business 4.0 if you can’t sufficiently free up your resources and if don’t have silence in IT,” Lallemand explains. “Until your current IT systems are up to scratch, your team don’t have the time to work on the next phase, the next developments. It is extremely ineffective and costly if your resources are busy tackling past issues instead of focusing on future innovations and that’s why we have been focusing on silence in IT to start with.”
Since 1905, ENGIE Electrabel has evolved to become more than just an energy provider. As part of the ENGIE Group, it has honed its vision and become a customer-focused company that offers a spectrum of innovative ideas and digital tools. By overhauling its system architecture and offering personalised services, ENGIE is empowering its customers and raising the bar in the energy sector.
“There is a lot of IT-intensive activity at ENGIE and its very customer-focused,” says Lallemand. “We’ve been busy developing new products and services to empower our customers because whilst having energy is important, what we really want to offer is comfort, as well as energy.”
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Digitally disrupting the energy sector
Thanks to digital trends such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, ENGIE is gaining a 360-degree view of its customers, building intelligent applications, and creating a dialogue with its customers. In this way, ENGIE Electrabel is not only providing energy, but also providing peace of mind.
“Big data is extremely important in today’s world and so it is clear to see why ENGIE wants to become a data-driven company,” comments Lallemand.
“Certainly, in order to provide added value to the customer, we need to be able to get and crunch the data for our customers and offer personalised solutions that make sense for them. Customers were accustomed to just getting energy from us in the past but now what we really provide is services. That is where big data comes into play.”
Robotic process automation is another area of focus for the Belgian firm. “The main purpose of our RPA project is to reduce the repetitive, low value-adding tasks that our staff often have to do,” notes Lallemand. “This gives our workforce more time to serve the customer and they are happier because they can focus their efforts on more meaningful, customer-focused jobs.
“As well as this, we have also just launched a messaging platform so that we can speak directly with our customers using the everyday tools they use to talk with their family and friends.”
As a customer-focused energy provider, a responsible producer of electricity, and a committed societal player, ENGIE Electrabel is striving to be top energy supplier for Belgium. Boasting around 2.8mn customers, the firm is leading the transition towards a low-carbon future. However, ENGIE Electrabel doesn’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead and is keen to evolve and grow.
“We are in the midst of a big transformation programme that has been very successful for ENGIE,” says Lallemand. “It’s very encouraging to see that we are moving the needle, we are really changing the company from an industrial company that only produces and sells energy to a more creative one, that is working for progress in this world.
“This is a big shift in our mindset and it all comes back to the ‘three D’s’ – decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitisation,” he adds “This shift is about much more than the IT, of course, but the company’s digitalisation strategy is crucial to making these changes a reality.”
Whether its creating new, innovative digital tools or working closely with partners it seems that agility and customer centricity has been key to ENGIE Electrabel’s success – and, of course, this has all be achieved silently with IT.