Utility Week

UTILITY Week 12th June 2015

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

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/525327

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 31

6 | 12TH - 18TH JUNE 2015 | UTILITY WEEK People & Opinion Innovation starts with communication Executive view Paul Mullord, UK director, British Water U ntil recently, most if not all water companies described their aspira- tions in terms of adopting inno- vation as wanting to be "leaders of the following pack". It is difficult to determine exactly when that attitude started to change, or what drove it, but change it has, with many water companies now saying that they wish to lead and win the race – and realise the advan- tages and benefits of innovation as soon as possible. When British Water started to engage its members on inno- vation, a common theme soon became apparent: that suppli- ers were oen largely unaware of what their customers needed or wanted. Innovative prod- ucts and processes tended to be developed in order to maintain or gain competitive advantage over other suppliers rather than to satisfy customer needs. When this was put to the water companies, there was a widespread admission that they oen did not know exactly what suppliers had, or could have, to offer. There was a clear mis- alignment in the understanding of customer needs and supplier capabilities that seriously threat- ened to undermine the sector's ability to satisfy its new-found appetite for innovation. British Water set out to address this situation, and quickly identified the lack of communication between clients and suppliers as a major barrier to appropriate innovation. To counter this, and from various discussions with British Water members and their cus- tomers, the idea of an Innovation Exchange was born: a one-day event to focus on innovation and exchange clients' needs with suppliers' capabilities. There were several false starts in nego- tiations with a number of water companies but in December 2011 the first event took place with Yorkshire Water in Leeds. The first Innovation Exchange set the benchmark for future events, with 38 supply chain companies taking part in four workshops. The latest Innova- tion Exchange, run alongside Utility Week Live at the NEC, was the 19th in a hugely successful series that has seen 660 presen- tations in 68 workshops given by 196 different supply chain companies to 20 different client organisations. The latest Innovation Exchange also continued the trend of breaking new ground, with a client audience drawn from three Thames Water Alli- ances (see page 24 for a full report on the event). Dates for the next four events are already in the diary and there are plans to extend the programme to other sectors facing water- related challenges. The Innovation Exchanges so far have achieved their goal of facilitating communication of needs and capabilities between clients and suppliers. They have also succeeded in inspiring new, more productive, collaboration between suppliers and between suppliers and clients. There is also a new kid on the block, although perhaps more of an infant. BWinnovate is Brit- ish Water's innovation search engine, designed to allow mem- bers to showcase their innova- tive products, processes and methodologies, and to allow a worldwide audience to find them. For more details, visit: www.bwinnovate.co.uk On the evening of 2 June, around 200 people gathered at the House of Lords to attend a reception celebrating the first birthday of the Powerful Women campaign initiated by Baroness Verma, the former parliamen- tary undersecretary of state for energy and climate change. The campaign aims to increase the number of women working in the energy sector, especially at a senior level, and to raise the profile of energy careers with girls and young women. A wide range of energy com- panies, including technology firms as well as generators, distribution and transmission companies and suppliers – and other stakeholders in the sec- tor – have added their support to Powerful Women over the course of the year. Many have made commit- ments to have greater repre- sentation of women in their organisations and the campaign more broadly has targets to see 40 per cent of middle manage- ment and 30 per cent of execu- tive positions in the sector held by women by 2030. According to research con- ducted by Powerful Women last year, just 5 per cent of execu- tive positions at UK domiciled energy companies are held by women and there are no female chief executives of large UK energy firms. Speaking at the reception, Powerful Women chair Ruth Cairnie explained "why that matters" with some compelling figures about the technical and societal challenges faced by the global energy industry in the near future, matched against its skills shortfalls. She also clarified the poten- tial economic benefit to be gained by exploiting the capa- British Water's Innovation Exchange initiative puts suppliers directly in front of water companies interested in assessing their products. Power hungry: Jane Gray reports on

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 12th June 2015