Streetworks – the unwelcome face of utilities

We’ve all been there – sitting in the car or on a bus wondering why we’re stuck in an endless queue of traffic, inching along at a snail’s pace. Then the temporary lights and cones appear, along with engineers in high vis jackets. Roadworks! ‘Utilities’ are digging up the road, causing all this disruption.

The public despair at the associated inconvenience, but at the same time we expect our utilities to be available 24/7, so they are a necessary evil. As a society, we cannot function effectively without them, with the volume involved being quite significant:

  • Estimated costs of traffic delays caused by streetworks to UK plc each year = £4.3bn
  • Annual number of streetworks undertaken by utility companies each year = 1.5m

Utility companies, their contractors and service providers, are acutely aware of the disruption caused and are constantly striving to reduce the impact through the adoption of new technologies, more efficient processes and increased staff competency. Balancing all this against the backdrop of maintaining regulatory compliance and of course minimising operational and/or penalty costs, is key.

So why is this such a costly challenge for Utilities? After all, surely it’s just digging a hole, carrying out a repair or an infrastructure project and filling the hole back in again, isn’t it?

If only it were so simple. Just like the proverbial iceberg, the general public only see the tip, or in this case the size of the hole! The parts that go unseen are the myriad of preparation and planning activities that have to take place before a single cone hits the highway. Risk assessments, method statements, noticing/permitting requirements, provision/collation of utility drawings, to name but a few. Mistakes here can cause a streetworks job to go badly wrong and have consequences for brand reputation, cost and regulatory non-compliance.

The important area of preparation and planning cannot be ignored when looking to drive streetworks efficiency and productivity improvements and to help drive down cost.

At Sopra Steria we’ve developed an outsourced ‘Safe Dig’ service to help realise the benefits from these desired improvements, and have seen savings through:

  • Reduced back office costs and improved efficiency in the transactional processing
  • Fast high quality service driven by metrics
  • Scalable service with low risk transition
  • Electronic drawing files – drawings can be accessed in the office or in the field via mobile devices
  • Robust management information system and analytics support informed decision making

How do we do this? Ask me by getting in touch by email or visit Safe Dig for more information.


The next digital disruption: buying B2B services using social media channels?

Digital Transformation is changing how businesses interact with customers and each other.

In this environment business-to-business (B2B) service providers face the constant threat of “digital disrupters” – new entrants who don’t fundamentally change the underlying product or service but win (or steal?) market share by leveraging new ways to interact with customers/clients and suppliers.

But couldn’t an existing B2B service provider become the digital disrupter by leveraging social media to create a new, differentiated approach to market engagement to deliver sustainable competitive advantage?

Here are some (radical?) ideas…

Customer led innovation: clients could potentially benefit from best practice about digital transformation being shared rapidly from different sectors (for example, the innovative work in UK central government and retail). A service provider could use its social media channel(s) to enable this sharing in an intuitive, dynamic way tailored to specific client needs. Furthermore, the provider could use gamification to incentivise the sharing of insights, advise directly between companies (such as discounting its services for clients providing such support). This would help position the B2B service provider’s brand as a collaborative thought leader in digital transformation.

Deepening personalisation: a provider could engage directly in all the social media activity of a client (at all levels including organisational, team and individual). Although there is a risk of appearing intrusive, it’s a way of building more intimate relationships with existing clients and sourcing new ones. This would also pro-actively complement and enhance other sales and account management approaches it uses.

Intensifying responsiveness: undoubtedly radical and reputationally risky, clients could post their complaints, issues and other feedback directly on a B2B service provider’s social media channels. The value comes from how the provider deals with these issues openly in this public space; a positive opportunity to explicitly demonstrate its strong commitment to quality service delivery.

Buy buttons: underlying these social media channel approaches would be the tools to enable a client to contact a sales representative immediately to purchase the provider’s services. Depending on the agility of the provider, potentially these services could be bought and stood up on the same day – now that’s digital transformation!

If you would like to find out more about how digital transformation can benefit your business, please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.

Make your enterprise social media initiative a success

Enterprise social media initiatives (ESI) such as the introduction of Yammer or Lync communication and collaboration tools can make a big difference to the digital transformation of an organisation.

Here are my top tips for maxmising the tangible and intangible benefits of an ESI for your business, employees and customers:

1. Focus on improving processes
Use enterprise social media tools to accelerate or optimise existing business processes – it’s not just an intranet replacement; it should drive competitive advantage.

2. Connect with the real world
Talk to your employees daily about insights and challenges they raise on your enterprise social media channels to reduce organisational risks and improve performance.

3. Be Visual. Be Relevant. Be Exciting!
Just like any other social media channel, ESI content should be engaging and informative to ensure employees get benefit quickly.

4. Use your enterprise social initiative to improve customer engagements
Employee generated content should directly inform product/service development – ESI empowers your people to innovate and own the customer experience.

Potential benefits of a successful enterprise social initiative:

  • Less time spent on low value activities
  • Lower risk of silo working
  • Better employee engagement
  • Bottom up innovation

If you would like to find out more about how an enterprise social media initiative can benefit your business please leave a reply below, or contact the Sopra Steria Digital Practice.

Why digital transformation? My current three key questions – what are yours?

i) What things CAN’T your customers or employees do on their own mobiles to use or serve your products and services?

ii) Do you have one application that gives your employees all the RIGHT information about the relationship you have with a specific customer or client?

iii) Is there is one area of your business (no matter how small or large) that if improved to WORK SMARTER could deliver big benefits quickly for customers and/or employees?

Answering one or more of these questions can help a client find the critical pain points that could be addressed using new ways of working supported by digital technology – the power of digital transformation!

Let me know your top three…