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The digital-first ‘connected engineer’ is key to the future of intelligent field operations

Paul Haggerty
Oct 19, 2023

Welcome to Capgemini’s ‘Future of’ series, in which we explore the challenges facing global energy and utilities businesses today and the opportunities they create. Discover how, with vision and ingenuity, you can accelerate the pace of digital adoption across the value chain, delivering both quick wins and long-term dividends in the future. For your business, your consumers, and the environment.

Here, Paul Haggerty, Vice President, UK Market Head of Energy Transition and Utilities at Capgemini UK unpacks the role of the connected engineer and how you can ensure your energy and utilities business can recruit the talent required to maximise the value of your digital investments.

Connected engineers of the future

Not so long ago, a “connected engineer” in the energy and utilities sector was someone with a mobile phone and an email address.

Now, the possibilities are endless, with a vast array of digital tools and technologies able to catapult today’s mobile field force into a world of work more akin to space exploration than the (previously) less sexy roles of water treatment technician or field service engineer.

Dynamic scheduling, with inbuilt automation and AI, is maximising the speed and efficiency with which every task, whether an emergency or planned maintenance, is scheduled and completed. The technician has a complete history of the task on their mobile app, with prompts to ensure they have the correct equipment, certifications and supplies.

Jobs are only released once all information and enabling activities are completed, significantly increasingly the probability of first-time fix.

Optimum routes from job to job are programmed each day, with live adjustments for traffic or roadworks, minimising vehicle journeys and cutting CO2 emissions. Live knowledge articles and instant access to expertise further improves the quality of the outcome, and thus the satisfaction of the customer, the engineer, and the business itself.

Can the energy and utilities sector catch up?

While digital thinking and the technologies that bring it to life are omnipresent in some sectors, this kind of digital adoption is still far in the future for many energy and utilities businesses. In fact, this use case is just the start. Emerging technologies are the real game-changers, opening up a vista of opportunities to completely reimagine how energy and utilities businesses will operate in the future – transforming day-to-day performance efficiency and accelerating progress to net zero.

The consumer gaming industry is putting inexpensive visualisation tools into the hands of engineers. Fast data networks originally built for mobile phones are connecting huge combinations of sensors to smart control rooms, elevating asset management from an art to a science. The power of analytics, AI and machine learning translates raw data into actionable insights.

Virtual and augmented reality is providing dynamic opportunities to simulate the progress and results of engineering interventions, providing project assurance and confidence for all stakeholders.

Shifting perception is critical to attracting the ‘connected engineers’ of tomorrow

Despite uniquely complex challenges facing organisations responsible for maintaining the current critical infrastructure and creating the next generation, digital technology provides a priceless opportunity for utilities businesses to lead the world in shaping a brighter future for our planet.

The reasons for the sector’s status as followers in digital transformation, rather than leaders, are well documented. One ongoing challenge is its ageing workforce, combined with ongoing difficulties convincing today’s tech-savvy generation that energy and utilities are the right home for their talents. Research suggests 35% of the current workforce – technicians, engineers and managers – will retire in the next 10 years*, a potentially crippling loss of vital knowledge and expertise.

A perception amongst some graduates and young professionals that energy and utilities is dirty and dangerous, and not a place in which technical innovation thrives, is proving difficult to shift. This generation of job seekers live in an environment where digital is in their DNA, used to inform, shape and control every aspect of their lives, at work and play. When considering their career options, they have an expectation of a modern, technologically sophisticated workplace, not one still struggling with legacy systems and traditional methods and processes.

The key to overturning these (mis)perceptions is not to simply continue trumpeting your digital transformation success stories. Instead, consider digging deeper, placing digital thinking and mindsets at the core of your strategy, championed by your leaders, as the new normal. Recruitment and personal development programmes must be created with the latest technologies at their core, producing a connected and enabled working environment that feels in sync with all other aspects of life.

Nurture digital thinking and business value creation not just digital transformation

Maximising the value and effectiveness of digital transformation is about so much more than investing in the latest tools and technologies and delivering them to the workforce. It requires strategy, leadership and change management expertise in lock step, to establish and nurture a consistent and authentic digital culture, with associated behaviours and ways of working, that’s front and centre in everything the enterprise does. Equally, it’s about robust investment appraisal, business operational optimisation, and results that drive the organisation’s P&L as well as core regulatory KPIs.

Engineers of the future will feel at home when an employer in the energy and utilities world feels as tech-savvy as they are – inspired to focus on the tremendous job satisfaction that they can derive from working in one of the few industries with the power and influence to change the future of our planet and everyone on it.

How can Capgemini help?

At Capgemini we have over 50 years’ experience helping many energy and utilities businesses wrestle with these complex challenges. Our ability to provide end-to-end collaboration, from strategy to execution and tackle the complexity in between, provides the comprehensive partnership that many organisations require. Critically, we have the skills and experience to drive digital thinking across your workforce.

For Scottish Water, we supported the delivery of its Intelligent Field Force Transformation programme (SWIFT) – transforming the capability of its field force operations to deliver great customer service, while protecting Scotland’s precious water environment by improving the condition and performance of key infrastructure. We performed an end-to-end reimagining and redesign of the entire field force lifecycle, systems, and processes with a wealth of business performance results and a reduction in carbon emissions.

To find out how Capgemini can help you exploit digital to become fit for the future, contact Paul Haggerty and Connect on Linkedin.

Explore our ‘Future of Series’ blog page, click here to learn more.

*Institution of Civil Engineers

Paul Haggerty

Vice President Head of UK ET&U Sector Capgemini UK
Paul is Head of our Energy Transition & Utilities (ET&U) sector for Capgemini in the UK and leads the sector across all business service lines including Consulting, Applications, Infrastructure, BPO and Engineering Services. Paul was originally a mechanical engineer in the Oil and Gas industry and has over 20 years consulting experience, leading major transformation programmes in the Utilities sector. Paul specialises in delivering combined consulting and technology capabilities, supporting clients maximise the potential of next generation digital solutions. He has line responsibility for Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange capability for Energy and Utilities and has worked at an account and delivery level in a number of major clients. He has been with Capgemini for over 23 years, prior to joining Capgemini, Paul worked for Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and FMC Technologies. Paul holds and MSc in Manufacturing, Management and Technology through the Open University.