Network November 2018

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NETWORK / 38 / NOVEMBER 2018 Q How did you get to where you are today? A he Kirona story started in 2003 when CEO, David Mur- ray and I - both having spent over a decade in so•ware develop- ment and consultancy - decided to setup a new business focusing on mobile apps before the mass adoption we know today. It became apparent that any organisation with a geographi- cally dispersed workforce - de- livering a service away from an office - would benefit from these kinds of mobile apps to improve ELIMPUS Q As an SME, what are some of the main challenges you face when it comes to engaging with the wider sector and the regulator? A From a utilities sector per- spective, access to regula- tors as a stakeholder is almost entirely undertaken by the utility companies themselves. Consequently, the route to in - novate and develop technology in the sector is driven the same way. Engagement across the wider sector is o•en not as collabora - tive as it should and could be. With comparator performance measures for reward and pen- alty across the sector, opportu- nities for research and develop- ment of products and services are managed in way that is most beneficial to an individual business, rather than the wider sector. Q How smart is the smart revolution going to be? A I am a strong believer in not introducing technology just for the sake of it – and to keep things as simple as possible. The utilities sector is complex enough without technology making it more so. Technology has to deliver tangible benefits to its users. Take augmented reality for example. For me, this started as a niche consumer technology with applications in tourism. Recently however, I've seen it being put to good use in engi - neering with a virtual "buddy" system allowing one of your col- leagues to see and interact with what you are working on. Q Why do UK utilities need to evolve? A The demand for utilities to cause less disruption to the general public, provide and maintain high levels of supply and customer service while at the same time reducing costs, has been in place for many years. However, responsibility for dealing with climate change, sustainability and "smart" tech - nology are now huge challenges for utilities. Q Can regulation be a barrier to innovation? A Each utility is subject to individual price control periods. These types of regimes tend to "lock" investment and innovation funding to provide a ROI during that period. More forward thinking and longer term sustainability incentives would support utility providers in making longer term investments. Q What are the biggest disruptors facing utilities? A Customer expectation as a result of technology advancement is a significant disruptor facing the utilities sector. Consumers expect to be in control of so many things and the sector will have to make significant change to respond. Making changes This section features regular interviews with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to highlight the work they're doing with networks and the types of technologies that are driving innovation forward. In this issue, Neil Harvey, chief technical officer (CTO) at Kirona, speaks to Network. GET IN TOUCH If you're interested in in being featured in the new Supplier Side section please get in touch with the editor at "Engagement across the wider sector is often not as collabora- tive as it should and could be." l Kirona is a leading provider of field service management solutions. Over 40,000 field-based workers across the world rely on Kirona's dynamic research scheduling and mobile workforce so•ware in order for them to effectively and productively carry out their work each day. efficiency and productivity. Introducing new technolo - gies such as dynamic sched- uling and analytics into our product portfolio over the years has driven business transforma- tion across our customer base which now includes multiple markets such as utilities, con- struction and retail in addition to our continued presence in the public sector. Q What is the best way to try innovations on a huge customer base/ national operation? A We find when deploying our workforce management solutions, particularly with a customer that has little or no ex - perience of these technologies, there is a lot for them to wrap their head around. Small scale pilot projects can be rapidly implemented, and give both the supplier and the customer a much greater under - standing of how their business is working at the coal face. You can better understand the challenges and opportunities to effectively scale up operations in the long-term. Q What cutting-edge technologies are you most excited about? A I am not alone when I say Artificial Intelligence (AI) remains a topic of interest. We already utilise several AI tech - niques to optimise workforce planning but for me, recent advances in Machine Learn- ing will open more avenues for improvements. I am also very interested to see developments in IoT – particular - ly smart sensors in fixed assets.

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