Water companies are under a tidal wave of pressure to innovate. The already looming challenges of population growth, net zero targets, water scarcity and deteriorating asset health were further compounded by the global pandemic that saw demand for water rise considerably and a workforce mandated to work from home.

But rise to the challenge they did. In its 2020-21 Service Delivery Report Ofwat praised most of the UK’s water companies for stepping up to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and providing continuity of service to customers, whilst also working towards the price review’s various stretching targets.

Key to this success has been innovation through digital technologies. Investment in more hardware and software and new processes helped to facilitate remote working. New cloud technologies are improving automation and consolidating processes. Data science and behavioural science based nudge techniques that utilise data from smart meters and self-service portals are improving customer engagement and the customer experience. And leak and pollution incidents have been reduced with the help of data from IOT devices in conjunction with digital twin technology, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

As the sector drives to digitise its operations and customer teams, the challenge is to ensure that the new technology enhances the employee experience, rather than having a negative impact on production levels, engagement and well-being.

Research reveals that companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable1. Conversely, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents and 60% more errors and defects. What’s more, workplace stress leads to an increase of almost 50% in voluntary turnover2.

As the pandemic recedes, many organisations are accelerating their digital transformation strategies, which in turn has created a highly competitive job market. This, in combination with heightened employee expectations of employers and increased job mobility, means that the pressure to retain top talent at scale has never been higher. Organisations that take a human centric and data driven approach to how and where work is conducted will have enduring competitive advantage.

Adam Dooley, Digital Advisory Group Manager, Avanade believes that employee experience drives customer experience and better performance outcomes. He suggests the challenge is to transform the workplace to deliver seamless employee experiences. “That’s where enabling technologies like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform come in. Dynamics 365 unifies traditional CRM and ERP capabilities, empowering employees to efficiently deliver a consistent, personalised customer experience. And Power Platform can help accelerate business and innovation with rapid low-code solutions that analyse data, automate processes, build virtual agents, and create apps that solve business problems.

“Reducing mundane, repetitive tasks and inefficiency through process and workflow automation can be achieved by leveraging existing investment in Microsoft Teams and Power Platform. At the same time, holistic and comprehensive Microsoft security programs will provide guidance on how to address and mitigate cybersecurity risks, helping to meet compliance requirements and secure data set out by NIS Regulation.”

When it comes to evolving your frontline worker experience, Adam believes this depends on a roll-out of new apps or devices. He comments, “It requires an end-to-end transformation, rethinking core work processes, renewing your employee experience and culture, and modernising your workplace technology ecosystem. At Avanade we call this Workplace Experience (WX) and when done right, it helps your organisation generate sustainable business value and harness the full potential from your frontline workforce.”

Avanade’s Workplace Experience (WX) framework brings together IT, HR, Facilities and Line of Business leaders to water companies generate sustainable value and become more people-centric, resilient and agile.

Adam continues, “A reimagined culture and employee experience can increase the productivity and engagement of your talent by creating enhanced employee experiences that have a direct impact on your customer experiences.”

Turning your workplace into a business value engine with Avanade’s holistic WX model delivers:

A modernised technology ecosystem: Enhance and extend your workplace technology ecosystem to protect against attacks, support new ways of working and drive increased business value.

A reimagined culture and employee experience: Create a personalised work environment and next-generation employee experience platform to inspire people to be their best, amplify human potential and drive enduring behavioural change.

Transformed business operations: Reconfigure how work gets done and adapt work environments to sustainably improve customer experience (CX) and business performance.

Adam concludes, “Using the power of innovation our goal is to make genuine, positive human impact on your business, the water industry as a whole, the environment and your customers. We want to work together with water companies to shape the future of the water industry and the world, by accelerating change through digital transformation – with employees at the very heart of that transformation.”

Visit Avanade.com/utilitiesUK for more details.

Source ref

1 Gallup 2020 Q12 Meta-Analysis

2 Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive (hbr.org)