Accelerating digital capability across Centrica to deliver for our customers when they need us most

Mike Young

By Mike Young
Group CIO

Keeping our communities warm, safe and supplied with energy has never been more important as the world adjusts and responds to the threat of Covid-19.  In the past few weeks, my teams have supported colleagues and customers to make a huge digital shift at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

Teams have worked around the clock across all territories to support customer facing colleagues who will be working at home for the first time.  We’ve provisioned thousands of laptops and shipped them to colleagues globally.  Thousands of our people are using their own devices on our Global Virtual Workplace for the first time and colleagues in the UK are taking customer calls from home. A move we had to make at speed and there is more to do to ensure our technology allows us to continue to deliver for our customers when they need us most.

We’ve been able to move at this accelerated pace, because Centrica has made fundamental decisions to move to the cloud giving us computing flexibility and scale at speed.

Internally, this has required a mindset shift for many people, so we’ve created new digital tools to support our people at this very uncertain time.  We now have more than 22,000 people using Microsoft teams every day keeping people connected in the new virtual workplace. We’ve created our first chatbot for customer services to answer queries about how best to work from home and this is working well. Our well-established Digital Champions network are also continuing to support people with queries and help them adapt to the new way of working.

As well as supporting our employees digitally, health and safety has always been, and always will be a priority. We have worked closely with our teams to ensure they continue to operate in a safe way and DTS, along with colleagues from across Centrica, are working hard to support the mental and physical wellbeing of all of our colleagues.

My team have used Yammer to create a thriving online community of more than 5,000 daily users to support people while they work from home. I have been impressed by the initiative and creativity of everyone who has worked with speed to support our people when they’ve needed it most.  They’ve been spreading the word about how to use our digital tools in ways we’ve not done before, virtual coffee breaks, book clubs, online beers and even Teams live for Yoga.  The use of digital technology will keep people connected and supported at these very worrying times.

This is all happening while people are adjusting to working from home and I am encouraging my teams to have open conversations about how they are doing and how we can support each other.  I’ve seen great collective efforts to support everyone’s wellbeing and I’ve been really impressed by our Unmind app that provides tools and training to help look after your mind.  It has tools to improve your mental health in your hands including information about dealing with Covid-19.

As everyone is adjusting to our collective new reality, I am encouraging my teams to think for the longer term. This is central to Centrica’s purpose of meeting the changing needs of our customers. We need to be what I call ‘mindset ready', planning how we serve customers, keep our teams connected to our central purpose so we can deliver for the long term. Stay safe and well.