Transforming business processes enterprise-wide
The UK’s largest water and wastewater services company replaced multiple disparate GIS systems with Esri’s ArcGIS platform and integrated it with its SAP customer relationship management (CRM) solution. This single enterprise-wide GIS is now used by 2,000 office-based employees and 900 field workers to help them make better decisions, work more efficiently and deliver excellent customer service.
Serving up to 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater services company. It supplies around 2,600 million litres of tap water and removes and treats more than 4 billion litres of sewage every day.
Call centre agents can locate issues more precisely and provide a faster, more appropriate response to customers, improving customer satisfaction
Field workers use ArcGIS Mobile to locate jobs and assets more easily, which enables them to work more productively and speed up repairs
ArcGIS gives managers a deeper understanding of the condition of assets, so they can better plan replacement programmes
Thames Water has been using geographic information system (GIS) solutions from Esri UK for over six years and this single technology now supports almost every part of the organisation. However, the situation used to be quite the opposite.
Previously, Thames Water relied on a wide number of geographic mapping tools to enable different groups of employees to perform different tasks in different parts of the business. “All these solutions met a need, but none of them met all our needs,” explains Jon Regan, head of business integration centre at Thames Water. “We had pockets of functionality and knowing which system to use for different business processes was quite confusing.”
These separate systems were not only hard to maintain and use, but also contributed to an unsatisfactory quality of asset data. “We had long lead times for making field updates and sometimes it took months to record the new position of an asset,” Regan says. “Simply keeping a single version of the truth was very challenging.”
We were not just deploying a new technology to replace, simplify and rationalise our existing geographic systems; rather we were investing in a strategic platform that we could continue to evolve over time to meet the needs of the business
Jon Regan – head of business integration centre, Thames Water
To address these issues, Thames Water replaced all of its previous, disparate systems with Esri’s ArcGIS platform. But it didn’t stop there. The solution also gave Thames Water the ability to extend GIS into many other parts of the business where it could deliver added value. “We were not just deploying a new technology to replace, simplify and rationalise our existing geographic systems; rather we were investing in a strategic platform that we could continue to evolve over time to meet the needs of the business,” Regan says.
One of Thames Water’s new GIS developments is the integration of ArcGIS into the organisation’s SAP customer relationship management (CRM) system. Now, for the first time, when customers contact Thames Water, call centre agents can locate the caller, identify assets in relation to that customer address and easily see any outstanding maintenance activities are. This information makes diagnosing customer issues easier.
In addition, Thames Water has used the ArcGIS platform to exchange accurate asset and location information with its mobile engineers, surveyors and field workers. When they launch their ruggedised laptops, ArcGIS Mobile automatically opens at their location and enables them to enter information about the job in hand. Any asset updates recorded in the field are automatically audited and transferred to the central asset database, where they are visible to everyone in the company.
The combination of GIS with CRM empowers our customer agents with better information, helping them to diagnose customer issues more accurately and initiate the best response
Jon Regan – head of business integration centre, Thames Water
ArcGIS gives Thames Water a single, accurate and up-to-date record of all of its assets and makes this vital business information accessible to employees right across the business. 2,000 office workers and 900 field agents all use the same GIS to help them make better decisions, work efficiently and deliver excellent customer service.
In the customer contact centre, agents use ArcGIS to help them respond more quickly and appropriately to customer queries and issues. “The combination of GIS with CRM empowers our customer agents with better information, helping them to diagnose customer issues more accurately and initiate the best response,” Regan says.
In the field, employees can work more productively, as they are directed to the right place straight away and don’t waste time looking for assets that have been moved. They can instantly see the locations of Thames Water’s own assets and the property of other utilities (such as buried cables) and make decisions that can speed up repairs and minimise public inconvenience. Regan notes: “Having the right data helps us in so many ways to improve the efficiency of our processes.”
The asset management teams use ArcGIS to gain a deeper understanding of the condition of the organisation’s assets. They analyse asset performance and make informed decisions about which assets need replacing first and where investment should be directed, to get a better return on capital.
ArcGIS has also led to cost savings, particularly in back-office areas and IT. For example, now that asset update information flows directly and automatically from agents working in the field direct to the central asset database, few administrators are required to process data. Similarly, in the IT department, it is more cost effective to manage a single solution rather than multiple separate systems.
Without doubt, ArcGIS has become an indispensable enterprise system for Thames Water and will continue to play a vital role in the business, as it steadfastly evolves to meet the needs of customers and regulators. Regan concludes: “ArcGIS is a strategic platform that will give us even more benefits over the long term.”