The energy market has been particularly volatile recently, with worries about supplies and rising prices taking the spotlight. Peter Brickley, CIO at Centrica, Britain’s largest household supplier of gas and electricity, says it has been an interesting year. “It was full of achievements,” he says. “Working in Centrica this year has probably been the most rewarding year of my career.”

Centrica is currently implementing what Brickley says may be the largest SAP for utilities project in the world. “The project, known as Jupiter, set out to provide a single point of contact for customers and billing,” he says.

Jupiter was piloted from August until Christmas last year, and just under a third of Centrica’s 17.7 million UK residential gas and customer accounts are now on the platform. “We now know what happened to the account in the past, what is happening in the present, and can offer specific customer propositions as a result, which makes a great differentiator for Centrica.”

"“Differentiation is critical in this market”"

Peter Brickley, CIO, Centrica

In this changeable industry the key to success is in making the company agile and nimble enough to move quickly, and Jupiter will allow it to achieve this. “Differentiation is critical in this market,” says Brickley. “Better service with a different customer proposition can be the business difference.”

Centrica is refreshing its PC LAN infrastructure with 9,000 desktops across Jupiter now on the Windows XP platform. It has also supplied new communications devices to several thousand of its engineers. These are smart phones and laptops, which dynamically route engineers who have the right expertise and the right spare parts on board to jobs. This a distinct business benefit which is giving the company a real competitive edge.

The strategic trends for the IS function were to improve service levels across the organisation and reduce costs. The first IS transformation phase ran from 2003 until the end of 2005 and has been a massive achievement for the IT organisation.

Centrica IS will begin the next wave of transformation this year. “The targets for the first one have all been met. The next process will look at refining process efficiency and effectiveness. We are obsessed with improving business change efficiency, and will be taking a bigger role in the leadership of the transformation, as a result of our achievements.”