UK Power Networks is a distribution network operator for electricity covering South East England, the East of England, and London - an area of around 30,000 square kilometres and covering eight million customers.

A former CIO at Thames Water and director of business improvement at EDF Energy, CIO Andrew Bilecki gave a three-minute televised interview live on the national BBC news in December 2013 following the Christmas storms which affected thousands of homes.

When did you start your current role?
2011

Have you completed an MBA?
No

Order the following sources of advice/information by value to you:
1. Consultant
2. Peer group
3. In-house
4. Analyst
5. Vendors

Technology strategy and spending

What is the major transformational IT project that has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
Completed since creation of company through acquisition:

  • IT Separation (2010-12); establishing a new IT capability - including new data centre and infrastructure, new organisation / team and migration of legacy systems and services to enable the new business to operate independently
  • IT Resilience for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (2011-12); major uplift in technologies for real-time electricity network control, field working and cyber-security in support of company's role supporting Olympic venues in the UK including the Olympic Park.

Currently underway:

  • Business Transformation Programme, an end-to-end transformation to “deliver the business we all want”, with an employee proposition of “improving, simplifying and reducing the numerous processes and systems that you use on a daily basis so that it’s easier for you to do your job”. The programme is unusual in two ways, the first being that it is outcome-driven, with the systems integration partner contracted to deliver genuine business results in line with c150 business and regulatory targets; the second being the delivery model, which ensures engagement from all directors, managers and staff through incentive and engagement mechanisms.

What impact will it/does it have on the organisation?
The business objectives are to enable the company's vision, that being to become (i) sustainably cost efficient, (ii) an employer of choice and (iii) a respected corporate citizen. The target business outcomes mentioned above have been defined for every part of the business impacted. Example design outcomes include:

  • Common, best-practice processes implemented across all networks
  • Field-workers have access to a modern, integrated mobile platform that suits the needs of their work
  • Asset, customer and work information (including documents) is accurately captured, integrated consistently across core processes and systems without manual intervention and to appropriate quality levels and with sustainable processes
  • Contractors and suppliers are able to access our systems as needed for their role to deliver
  • Customer database with appropriate processes and interfaces to ensure remains accurate, consistent and up-to-date
  • All processes and systems comply with all relevant legislation including, but not limited to, the Data Protection Act and PCI-DSS
  • Customers are involved in the development of our business via Stakeholder engagement activities
  • All Planned works will be coordinated to ensure minimum disruption to the customer
  • Processes operate effectively without the use of Grey IT solutions (i.e. user tools such as Excel)
  • Efficient, timely and accurate executive and performance reporting

These are complimented by outcomes per business area, such as:

Connections Small Services
Deliver small service connections to the customer’s preferred timeline
Fulfilling connection requests as and when the customer requires (including the possibility for next day, out of hours and 7 days a week if required by the customer)

Projects and Major Connections
Customers are delighted with the clarity and accuracy of information we provide
We will know when a job is fully completed (including reinstatement) and will offer all customers the opportunity to give feedback on our performance

Enquiries and Complaints
Swift resolution of enquiries and complaints to customers satisfaction
For enquires that require no-physical work to resolve: Resolving 90% of enquiries within 24 hours and 100%
within 7 days

Asset Planning
Optimise regulatory risk and outperform on volume
Annual Health Index delivered within five percentage points of annual target Health Index) (CAPEX)

Capital Programme
Deliver the plan and outperform on cost Summary of cost and plan delivery
Deliver an earned value (EV) of greater than 1 at a portfolio level in year and across the regulatory period

Faults
Deliver the customer charter
All faults excavations to be reinstated within 24 hours for non specialist surfaces (from jointing complete)

Human Resources
Modern self-service tools available across the organisation

Regulation
Regulatory reports can be generated efficiently, accurately, and in a timely manner without manual intervention

What new strategic technology deals has your organisation struck and with whom?
Scheduling, mobility, HR (cloud) software - SAP
Real-time electricity network management and automation - GE
Requirements mgt and testing software - IBM
Windows 7 - Wipro
Network modelling - TCS
Business transformation services - Enzen

Name your strategic technology suppliers?
SAP, GE, IBM, CGI, Capgemini, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, Enzen

What is the IT budget?
£70 million in 2013

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Deliver Back Office, Customer and Connections (office and field) phases of Business Transformation to business and staff expectations
Deliver Smart Meter Readiness to government / industry timetable
Prove Algorithmic Automation (of real-time electricity network) functionality in London
Upgrade desktop / laptop estate to Windows 7
Full digitisation and electrical connectivity of GIS network in South East England
Deliver IT Operational Efficiency programme (5% cost-savings)
Improve internal Customer satisfaction (85%)
Improve Employee Engagement (meet or beat 2-star performance in best large companies to work for survey, result achieved in 2013 survey, the first time company entered)
Meet / beat financial targets

Transformation achievements

Would you describe the CIO role as a transformation leader in your organisation?
Expert transformation advisor, technology enabler and on occasion policeman!

Describe the transformations you have led / been involved in, how did they transform operations, customer experience or the organisation?
UK Power Networks

  • IT Separation

Delivered major programme to implement new IT capability at UK Power Networks, implementing two new data centres and infrastructure as well as migrating complex, aged legacy applications and technologies to separate from previous owner.  New technologies implemented included award-winning website on open-source platform.  Business benefits included avoidance of extremely large penalties due if delayed.

  • IT Olympics Resilience

Augmented IT security and resilience for systems congtrolling the electricity distribution network servicing a number of sites for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games including the Olympic Park.  Managed the company's response to an emerging national cyber-security threat to the electricity network identified by government services 24 hours prior to the opening ceremony.

Thames Water (CIO 2009-11)

  • Turned around failing in-flight Back Office Transformation Programme to deliver technology platforms enabling HR and Finance efficiency targets, employee self-service and targeted control improvements.
  • Transformed IT operating model, organisation, culture and outsourced service provision to deliver 35% increase in stakeholder satisfaction, 23% increase in staff satisfaction, 12% reduction in major incidents and 5% reduction in operating costs.
  • Led strategy and initiated transformation programme to deliver step-change in Customer Services / Retail financial, people, process and service performance.

EDF Energy (Director of Business Improvement, Head of Strategy and Performance (Business Improvement and Technology)

  • Led recovery of failing in-flight Major Customers pricing systems implementation leading to significant improvement in gross margin and profitability.
  • Defined and led transformation of Business Improvement & Technology department, leading to 20% reduction in operating costs, 26% increase in customer satisfaction and 25% increase in staff satisfaction.

Beyond technology, can you describe a business transformation programme that you own or contribute to?
Hopefully covered by previous answers, which include reference to the Smart Meter Readiness programme, an industry-wide government-led transformation of provision of electricity to homes in the UK; and the introduction of Algorithmic Automation functionality to UK Power Networks, which will enable the electricity network to 'self-heal'.

Whilst not transformational, a non-technology highlight of 2013 for me was during the storms of Christmas 2013 when I gave a 3-minute live televised interview to the BBC national news on electricity restoration efforts in Yalding, the day after David Cameron's visit.

What key technologies are being considered to enable transformation?
New technologies implemented through the Business Transformation scope include:
Customer portal (Java), CRM (SAP CRM 7), Scheduling (SAP MRS9000), Asset Management (SAP), Work Mgt (SAP Syclo), Capital Management (SAP), Recruitment (SAP Sucess Factors), HA (tbc), Tablets (Windows 8, manufacturer tbc), Smart Phones (OS/manufacturer tbc), Requirements Management and Testing (IBM).
Other technologies impacted included Document Management / Collaboration (Alfresco), MDM (SAP Afaria), Business Intelligence and Reporting (SAP / Microsoft / Qlikview) and GIS (GE Smallworld).

What percentage of your applications / infrastructure is run from the Cloud?
Currently limited, primarily some voice services and a small customer services application. Recruitment system cloud implementation in progress.

How is the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and social networking impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation at present?
We have seen a huge growth in use of social media and our website over the last 2 years. With customer's still being able to use their mobile phone during at least some of a power cut, we have found that the majority of our website traffic is now from mobile phones. We have been gradually evolving our web offering to better serve this demand. Twitter has become a channel of choice for a number of customers, putting our ability to respond with good customer information in the public eye.  Responsitivity to this demand is a key part of our transformation programme, with technology pillars including tablets / smart phones for employees to more easily provide updates from the field; improvements to our customer website as well as a recently-launched outages map to improve the customer offering; and a new CRM system to better manage customer information.  Smart Metering will, in time, have a huge impact on our business, enabling us to know previsely who has gone off power and when without any need for customer contact.  We will be able to pass this information straight back to our staff in the call centre and field as well as use it to proactively notify customers of restoration progress.

Do you have a plan in place for how to deal with shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives, place the right controls around employee choice and engage with the organisation on this issue?
We have had a BYOD scheme for c1 year following extensive Executive briefings on the value proposition, benefits and risks. The scheme is one of a number of initiatives that are designed to improve flexibility and choice whilst ensuring appropriate controls are in place. A long-running security awareness communications programme seeks to ensure employees understand a small number of policy statements and the practical implications of those.  This is integrated with the company induction programme to ensure that new joiners, often those posing most risk, are engaged from day 1. The programme sits alongside sits ongoing efforts to improve data controls, which are focused on improving business accountability for data and defining appropriate rules for data dissemination and control.

Other activities to improve flexibility and choice whilst ensuring appropriate controls are in place include the provision of new technologies such as Qlikview that enable the business to control its reporting; and opening up access to a small number of technical environments typically viewed as IT's domain to allow the users to trial / develop selective functionality.

Where do you seek transformational inspiration from?
We monitor technology trends and innovations and use external networks to understand where others have created value.  More than ever, great ideas come from within - more informed employees can spot appropriate technologies for their business challenges, and the focus is often on the 'how' rather than the 'what'.  Transformation change then becomes one of leading people to deliver business outcomes in an engaging and efficient manner.  I am currently learning about the story of Jack Welch, who is truly inspiring.

The CIO role in the business

Who do you report to?
CEO

Do you have a seat on the board?
No

How often do you meet with the CEO?
Typically 3 or more times a week through weekly Executive Management Team meetings, steering groups and other meetings (performance, 1:1s etc)

Does your organisation have a digital leader and what is the difference in their responsibilities to yours?
Our Customer Services directorate has a Digital Manager who is responsible for the front-end design of our web and social technologies; the Information Systems directorate is responsible for recommending technologies and their usage, agreeing design, and implementation / support.

What percentage of IT budget do you control and what percentage of IT budget does your digital peer hold?
All of UK Power Networks IT (non-electrical engineering) budget is centralised under the Information Systems directorate.

The IT department

How many staff make up the IT team?(What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff)
Our current internal headcount is 75, with another 20 or so specialist contractors with us at any time working in niche specialist roles (what we call our "resource pool"). Our external managed service providers use shared resource pools extensively; our development pool partners will fluctuate in number according to project demand.  At any one time there are typically up to 200 people working under the IS banner, with greater numbers during transformation change and/or data-intensive projects such as GIS.

Describe the CIO’s management team, do you have direct reports that develop the relationship and services between the business and IT?
My direct reports are:

  • Strategy, Architecture and Commercial
  • IT Operations
  • Service Delivery (Control / Field)
  • Service Delivery (Customer, Connections and Asset Management)
  • Service Delivery (Support functions / Unregulated business)

Each of my team including myself has responsibilty for the relationship and engagement with stakeholders and staff, with c100 managers in the business split between us according to role; most business relationships are held by the Heads of Service Delivery, as well as Executive relationships by myself - other mappings include the relationship with our business' innovation planning teams being picked up by the Head of Strategy, Architecture and Commercial. Senior stakeholder satisfaction with our main services - planning, project delivery and support - is one of our top-level KPIs, alongside employee satisfaction with IT support, which is primarily driven through IT Operations.

The IS Strategy, Planning and Portfolio Manager works with the business' planning team to define the model for jointly planning change and improvements in line with company strategic objectives; this sets the framework for engagement by the senior management team to ensure that plans, projects and services and defined in a way that is aligned with stakeholders, employees and financial targets/constraints.

And how many log-in accounts do you issue across you organisation?
Over 6000, just over 5000 of which are employees, the remainder being external contractors

What is the primary technology platform? ( for example ERP, Website, trading system)
Our focus is becoming more on data rather than a single platform, however our ERP post-transformation will have the biggest functional footprint.