Utility Week

Utility Week 5th December 2014

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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case study: Business stream 12 | 5th - 11th December 2014 | UtILItY WeeK Sponsored Report: Cloud Computing F ounded as recently as 2008, First Utility has become something of a poster child for energy deregulation, with a cus- tomer base of more than 200,000 consum- ers making it the UK's largest independent energy company. However, the company has also gained a reputation for technology innovation. It was the first utility to roll out smart meters, for example. Yet to the wider world of business, it is arguably First Utility's approach to enter- prise IT that is gaining it the most plaudits because First Utility has also become some- thing of a poster child for cloud computing. "By design, a significant amount of our IT infrastructure is in the cloud – in fact, it's our first choice," says First Utility chief informa- tion officer Bill Wilkins, a veteran technology executive. "Whenever a new application or technology comes along, we always ask: can we host it in the cloud or buy it as a hosted service?" When Wilkins says "significant", he means it. Around 60-75 per cent of the com- pany's enterprise IT footprint is in the cloud, spread across remote servers belonging to Amazon, Google, and Salesforce – the seem- ing imprecision of the 60-75 per cent range because it depends whether the measure is applied to the number of transactions (plac- ing First Utility's cloud footprint at the upper end of the range), or depth of functionality, where it would fall at the lower end. If you talk to proponents of cloud com- puting it's not difficult to explain First Util- ity's "cloud first" preference. "There are tangible benefits for util- ity companies in using cloud technology," says Simon Ormston, head of utilities at BT Global Services, part of telecommunications giant BT. "Cloud technologies are available on a pay-as-you go basis, which reduces risk for companies by minimising the need for large upfront capital investment. "They are also scalable, meaning that ser- vices can be flexibly adjusted to cope with the peaks in call volumes oen experienced by utility call centres during times of crisis or when new pricing or offers are announced." Yet among utilities, First Utility's use of the cloud is somewhat unusual. Many utili- ties have yet to make any use of cloud com- puting, let alone to the extent of First Utility. "The industry is lagging far behind other sectors in adopting cloud computing, although there are signs that this is slowly changing," says Stuart Ravens, principal analyst for energy and utilities technology at analyst firm Ovum. "Utilities aren't really ever 'first movers' in technology, and cloud computing is no exception." So why is the industry so reticent to embrace a technology platform that so many other industries have adopted? Globally, for instance, Salesforce's mar- ket-leading cloud-based Customer Relation- ship Management (CRM) application has more than 100,000 customers, including thousands of small and medium-sized Brit- ish businesses. In the supply chain, Open- Text GXS Trading Grid is the world's largest cloud-based trading partner integration plat- form, managing more than 12 billion transac- tions for some 550,000 companies. Meanwhile, British businesses as diverse as Jaguar Land Rover, Rentokil Initial, Pear- son, and Telegraph Media Group are all users of Google's cloud-based Google Apps for Work, an integrated email, calendaring, document management and collaboration tool. These are names with clout . Talk to those close to the issue, and vari- ous reasons are put forward to explain the utility sector's apparent aversion to the cloud. Data privacy concerns in respect of customer records, for example, seem to be a factor that has historically held back cloud adoption in the sector – a sector which is struggling to re-establish consumer trust aer a continual stream of scandals about mis-selling. "There's a lot of sensitivity about plac- ing customer data in the cloud, which has in part been fuelled by the US's Patriot Act, and recent revelations about America's National Security Agency eavesdropping on email traffic and internet activity," notes Wytse Kaastra, a managing director in Accenture's Head in the clouds Utilities lag behind other sectors in embracing cloud computing. Are they missing out? And will market forces change their minds? Utility Week and Salesforce present this sponsored report. Business Stream provides water and waste water services to business customers in Scotland. In 2008, it began its cloud computing journey with Salesforce 150% Growth in Business Stream's technical services division since 2008 adoption of Sales Cloud 26% Growth in customer satisfaction since 2008 adoption of Sales Cloud 115,000 Number of customers whose queries Business Stream now has centralised visibility of through Service Cloud 50% Around half of Business Stream's cus- tomers now engage with the company via a web-based self-service platform supported by Salesforce "Finally, we've got that single view of the customer, without which we'd have lots of people going into lots of different systems. Instead, we have the information that we need, housed in a single place, with a single point of contact." Simon Driscoll, contact support manager, Business Stream Brought to you in association with

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