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Power up Business Results with an Enterprise Collaboration Strategy


Authored by: 

Raviteja Palanki, Digital Consultant,
Chaitanya Srinivaspura, Sr. Manager - Utilities Vertical, Brillio

One of most underrated themes of Digital Transformation is Enterprise Collaboration (EC). Though not a relatively new area for the enterprise IT teams, there it is undergoing a shift from being a merely a productivity improvement initiative to becoming a critical business strategy to drive better results for the company.  To this end, asset heavy industries like Energy & Utilities (E&U), have embarked on multiple digital interventions, to streamlining process improvements, however, they have largely remained siloed in approach. The need of the hour is to bring in a human centred approach to transformation which encompasses both employee experiences and end customer experiences at an enterprise scale.

This involves looking beyond the individual successes of digital these interventions, and logically create the foundation for extending them towards realization of larger organizational goals in the transformation journey. Hence, collaboration can act as key lever for real success when wisely implemented by using technology with a human touch.

There are two key trends pushing to build this type of collaboration driven strategy -

  1. Digital Workplace expectations from new millennials who will sustain and improve current transformative success
  2. Information Explosion and need to intelligently manage it

Amidst the ever-evolving digital landscape, utility companies are still lacking a cohesive vision that promotes collaboration between their digital and the traditional corporate structures. They need to align with the new  digital workplace trends1  that enrich an open-collaborative culture, drive inclusion, smart interactions and negates the costly silos of the past. With the forecasts from 2017 assessment by the US Department of Energy2, that 25% of US employees in electric and natural gas utilities will be ready to retire within 5 years, companies will need to get ready for the influx of millennials entering utility workforce who will have higher expectations from enterprise in terms of flexibility, transparency, and preferences to communications & interactions.

Organizations employee experience goals of tomorrow will lean towards embracing digital workforce developments by providing the freedom to be themselves and fostering an engagement culture that secure great results.

            70 percent of employees believe that collaboration platforms are changing their workplace interactions - 2018 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte3

For the E&U companies, the inherent information complexity arises from distributed, large scale business units trying to constantly communicate to run their everyday operations and customer services. In their tryst to compete in today’s competitive landscape and spur innovation, free flowing information, ideas, and ability to generate actionable insights is becoming imperative to create a for data driven decision making.

Let us analyse a few scenarios how bringing human centric perspectives in the beginning can help shape your strategy to achieve the expected business outcomes in the collaboration system -

Scenarios 1: Anywhere anytime access to relevant information – Today finding information has become convenient with the spread of connectivity and emergence of popular channels like mobiles. Yet the information retrieved is always not the most relevant. Organizational studies have shown that employees spend as much as 1/5th of their working time searching for the right information.

Building your data & information strategy, collaboration strategy and mobile strategy together in the beginning would set you up with right arsenal to meet evolving needs. This is because, advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML) will converge and become integral to all future applications. This will be a huge leap for energy companies.  

Laying the foundations in a unified manner will pave the path for accelerated integrations with AI powered tech of future.

For example, your organization has digitized all the records containing engineering drawings and other relevant documents, for convenience of use. But will it be possible to retrieve those documents using a voice command?

Case-in-point: The facility Management group of a leading US-West Utility wanted to digitize ~2 million engineering drawings that were managed by 14 Lines of Business (LOBs). One of most efficient ways to execute this would be using an automation approach to records digitization.

Brillo helped take a more strategic view and incorporated a strong meta-data driven approach through discovery workshops with SME’s, while also putting across a comprehensive accuracy driven automation solution. The solution spanned right from scanning the physical copy of records to creating utilities that can be used by their administrative teams for storing these digitized records onto their enterprise content management platform.

This approach not only helped the client to improve current search capability but made it very easy for the organization to augment with AI powered voice-based search for more convenient access

Scenarios 2: Business Process Improvements & RPA – Most traditional utility business process inefficiencies continue to be addressed only in pockets. Hence, with the advent of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bots have started to imitate low level day-to-day tasks but are far from creating the desired impact. One key reason for their low success rate was lack of emphasis towards end-to-end process transformation, right at the start.

A strategy considering – Data, People, & Decision Systems together will deliver five key benefits –

  1. Quick integration of efficiency gains derived from end to end optimized process models onto your business results
  2. Help realize an efficient business transformation
  3. Reduced people dependency
  4. Increased visibility that’s inspires greater trust
  5. Reduced costs of operations

To attain this, Energy & Utility Companies have started to favor usage of intelligent business process management (BPM) suites like low code-no-code platforms4 along with RPA, to revamp their legacy business processes. They provide intuitive forms, workflows, and accurate real-time reporting that span across roles, departments and data sources which help clients to rapidly build & deploy scalable, reusable, low-code applications.

Example – SCADA system, Work Management system, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Work Queues have immense potential for end to end business process improvements using these low code platforms.

Going forward, advanced combinations of Work flow automations, RPA and AI solutions will enhance each other and potentially provide much deeper value and impact on core business processes

By 2020, 70% of new integration technology deployed will have unified application and data integration capabilities within a single platform – Gartner4


Scenarios 3: Content Management (CM) – The foundations of today’s ECM strategy focus on management of structured and unstructured data spread across the enterprise through role-based access and high levels of security controls. Yet the biggest challenge impending their success is poor user involvement & adoption.

One successful approach to tackle this is to take people behaviours into account with incorporation of an inclusiveness-led strategy like design thinking in alignment with elevated employee experience.

Case-in-point: A Leading Arizona based Utility had decided to upgrade their content & collaboration portals to the modern platforms, to drive more user adoption.

Brillo convinced the client that this was not an effective strategy for adoption and incorporated a design thinking-based strategy for CM. Incorporating Design thinking workshops as a part of Information Architecture definition and Portal Re-Design helped to take user empathy into account and made sure that the new system is more user friendly and encourages engagement with great user experience

 “50% of organizations are at the middle level of maturity or lower for ECM, indicating that there is significant room for growth and development in these organizations”- IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: Managing Enterprise Content in the United States, 20185

As employees get onboarded with customer-centric attitudes and behaviours, the philosophy of elevated employee experience will drive a culture of collaboration and deliver outstanding customer experience.

Key Take Aways:

During 2019 & beyond, crafting a robust Enterprise Collaboration (EC) strategy will mean bringing the dimensions of Mobility, Content Management, Information & Data Strategy, Business Process Improvements and Employee Productivity as logical blocks of a singular strategy.

By taking this holistic view of your collaboration strategy, the effectiveness accomplished from individual successes of digital interventions can be multiplied to deliver a wider organizational business impact.

To turn this into reality, the C-Suite executives need to rethink and spark a cultural change for each employee to view these initiatives as a means for achieving expected business outcomes from collaboration.

“A properly executed enterprise collaboration (EC) strategy engages employees and connects the customer experience (CX) ecosystem in new ways to create business value” - The Enterprise Collaboration Playbook For 2019, Forrester6



Vaibhav  Suresh's picture

Thank Vaibhav for the Post!

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