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Utilities zero in on the key to digital transformation


Article by Rupert Chapman

What organisations have really got to get used to in the world of digital is the pace of change.

Utilities operators are embracing digital technologies to transform century-old infrastructure and one-size-fits-all services so they can proactively maintain operations and personalise customer experience. Getting started on that journey can be daunting. But the key requirements to take advantage of this digital opportunity are known. They’re speed, multi-functional teams, agility and iterative development.

In the UK, we see all of our clients across all industry sectors determined to address digital and determine how technologies can transform the ways in which they provide their services. They are also really trying to move away from the veneer of the customer front-end and look at the depth of their business processes. That’s where we find some of the true opportunities to drive digital at scale and drive large efficiencies and productivity gains as well.

The utilities sector in particular is a really great example of organisations using digital to make a big difference – to instrument their network and to have a digital twin for a proper understanding of what is happening. This helps personalise what has traditionally been more of a one-size-fits-all approach based on 100-year-old infrastructure.

This gives these utilities companies the ability to use analytics and automation to proactively and predictively maintain their infrastructure and also to customise and personalise the experience they give to their customers. And this information will be provided to everybody who is actually delivering that service, from an engineer through to a customer service agent.

As an example, one of our clients in this sector is a water utility that has applied digital technologies to its water treatment works. Traditionally this would have cost about £20m to develop and build. The water company spent less than £5m. As a result, the productivity and efficiency gains of the operation of the treatment works enabled the organisation to deliver a much more differentiated customer experience and service.

Small steps, fast

One of the things we are seeing is that clients can see the digital opportunities but they are so vast that they often don’t know where to start. To address this, one of the concepts we have developed at Cognizant is an accelerator hub, which creates an opportunity for organisations to very quickly experience what digital really feels like and to go on the digital journey. This gives them the confidence that they are actually doing the right thing, seeing how these benefits would apply, but also understanding how they could work together.

Organisations have really got to get used to the pace of change in the world of digital. It’s no longer about defining something and coming up with the requirements six months later. Now it’s days or weeks to engage, think and create a mock-up or virtual product. This requires the ability to iteratively and rapidly develop solutions.

Cognizant brings together strong multi-functional teams. We work with a client to develop solutions faster and in a way that actually enables the client to navigate the journey of digital change. That means they really get to focus on where the benefits are internally but, more importantly, where they are for their customers too.

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