Year in review: Centrica
A long time ago (October), in a city far far away (Leicester), we spoke to energy multinational Centrica. Joanne Rose, Head of Mobile User Computing, discussed the technological and cultural means assisting employees in the field.
The technological needs of such users are necessarily moving with the pace of technological change, as Rose explained. “We've transformed our field workforce digitally over the last 20 years. Currently, digital transformation for us is about continually making sure that our fieldworkers have got the most up-to-date technology and software. What we're doing is setting the scene for our field workforce to be on the latest products and for them to be kept up-to-date.”
There are challenges. Geographical isolation brings issues which technological solutions are addressing. “It's very difficult to replace devices or enact a big IT upgrade because our field workforce is truly field-based, meaning they never come to a Centrica office and they don't have regional depots. The technology they're now using means they can communicate with the whole of Centrica using Yammer,” said Rose.
With the change in technology there was a parallel need to ensure that it could be integrated culturally in different parts of Centrica. Rose found the appetite for digital transformation came from the highest levels. “The approval came from the top and our CIO, Mike Young. Digital transformation has been hugely important to him and his strategy, so in sponsorship terms there's never been an issue.” Care was also taken to ensure the field workforce was on board and engaged with the introduction of new technologies. “We made sure there was a pilot group which was able to trial devices and get first looks at the software,” said Rose.
Pure Storage: supporting the digital transformation journey
Pure Storage helps clients drive their competitive advantage by enabling data to deliver positive business outcomes such as evidence-based decision making using real-time analytics. “Working with the British Army, as part of an ecosystem of best in class solutions suppliers, Pure is providing private cloud services on-premise but also has offerings via AWS and Azure, and at container level,” explains Colin Atkinson Pure’s UK Public Sector Account Director.
“Pure Storage is supporting the digitalisation of the army as part of Programme THEIA,” reveals Colonel Mark Cornell, Assistant Head of Army Digital Services. “THEIA is how we change our ways of working to adopt more efficient digital processes. Technology is actually the easy piece of the puzzle; the challenge is cultural and behavioral change”. The army is a conservative organisation by nature, so how do we get its people - civilian, military, and contractors - to adopt the appropriate ways of working we want to deploy?
“We move away from labour intensive processes, and move further up the value chain to get the human adding value where they should be in the decision-making process.”
We’re in the midst of a data revolution highlights Atkinson. “We’re seeing an exponential growth in data analytics, which can create huge headaches for large organisations, or it can create massive opportunities. Data will be the oil that fuels this revolution….”
It’s a revolution that’s been gathering pace; each year, since 2016, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the previous two years. Atkinson also points out that 99.5% of historical data goes largely unanalyzed: “The corollary for large organisations is that if you don’t have a data strategy, you could end up with very large, very cold data silos and miss the opportunity to create that competitive advantage. By partnering with Pure we can help clients develop a data-enabling strategy.”.”
“We’re going to see a far greater use of data analytics in the British Army and across organisations in general,” forecasts Cornell. “We’re aiming for level three and level four predictive and prescriptive analytics approaches that start using Machine Learning and AI to give us deeper insights from our data. And as we move forward with Programme THEIA we see ourselves migrating our workloads and data into the cloud, making the use of the elasticity of hyperscale clouds. But also, protecting our data in the appropriate way if we wish to keep it on-prem and use it, and secure it in that way. We’re part of that cloud revolution that's going on through defense, but also across the wider public sector.”