Operating from a global desktop provides many business benefits. Cloud-first international energy company, Centrica, has utilised Citrix in order to fast-track new desktops from design to deployment. Mike Young, Group Chief Information Officer, Centrica, explains how the company is relying on Citrix to help it steer through such unprecedented times.
Cloud-first international energy company, Centrica, has utilised Citrix in order to fast-track new desktops from design to deployment in just five months. Centrica was able to expand home working capacity extremely quickly.
Centrica serves 26 million customers in the UK, Ireland and North America. The business has 30,000 employees in locations all around the world, ranging from customer contact centres to energy traders working in the financial markets.
Moving at pace to ensure that Centrica’s employees could support communities with their energy needs during the COVID-19 pandemic was a key focus. Having already embraced flexible cloud technology with Citrix Cloud and Office 365, Centrica was in a prime position to react to the situation, making the move to homeworking successful for its global workforce.
Centrica and Citrix teams worked around the clock across all territories to support thousands of customer-facing colleagues globally, many of whom were working at home for the first time.
Centrica leveraged its technology investment to enable continued business operations during COVID lockdown. This meant its global workforce of 28,000 could work productively from their own homes, ensuring its 27 million global customers received the help they needed, and productivity levels were maintained.
Over the past four years, Centrica made a number of strategic investments to ensure that it is best placed to serve its customers and colleagues. Working with its strategic partner, Microsoft, it invested in Office 365 to promote collaboration across the group and undertook one of the largest moves in the UK to the cloud in 2018 using Microsoft Azure. This provided two key elements of Centrica’s Digital Transformation strategy: collaboration and flexibility in computing power.
Utilising the Citrix Cloud along with Microsoft Azure, Centrica was able to expand home working capacity extremely quickly. Contact centre staff were able to access their corporate systems using personal devices via Citrix and the Citrix Access Gateway. In addition, Centrica leveraged a cloud-based proxy service and cloud VPN enabling knowledge workers to effectively work from home.
James Boswell, Global Director, End User Computing, Centrica, praised the team and technology: “Centrica had the right solutions in place to make the transition to 100% homeworking, and using cloud-based technology was the key to our speed and agility. Across Centrica, people have pulled together like never before, ensuring our contact centre colleagues and British Gas engineers have the technology they need at this difficult time. The team has been fantastic, even creating a chatbot to help homeworkers with their new way of working.”
Boswell said: “We have leveraged Citrix for many years and the move to Citrix Cloud and Azure was a clear next step in our journey. Having completed the move in 2019, expanding our capacity to cater for increased numbers due to COVID-19 was incredibly straightforward.”
Since lockdown commenced, the Centrica team have answered over 1 million customer calls remotely and have on average had 15,000 active homeworkers across the business every day. Utilising Microsoft Teams, Centrica has enabled its workforce to stay in touch, even running live exercise classes each morning.
In order to keep the workforce engaged, Centrica has held weekly company-wide coffee breaks on its internal social media platform.
Tending to customer needs during COVID-19 is a challenge that many CIOs are attempting to overcome and Centrica’s investment in Digital Transformation has seemingly paid off during these unprecedented times. Mike Young, Group Chief Information Officer, Centrica, tells us how he’s steering the company through such difficult times.
What were the reasons behind selecting Citrix and how is its offering unique?
We have used Citrix technology for many years, it gives us the flexibility to manage our workload globally and at scale. Centrica is a complex business with a diverse range of needs from customer service advisers to rig workers, and having flexibility in our solutions is key. The cloud element of Citrix was particularly important to us.
Our technology strategy is cloud first and at the time, Citrix had the right solution to enable us to move our virtual desktop workload into the cloud. A stand-out feature was the ability to auto scale in Azure as this ensures we always have the right capacity and don’t pay for computing power when it’s not being used.
How has the system improved business efficiency?
Previously, it could take months to scale up our Virtual Desktop capacity (which can be used by thousands of colleagues at any one time) to meet the needs of the business. Now, we can react in minutes – the service is faster than before and because we can auto scale the workload it saves money.
How far has the solution future-proofed operations?
It’s important to future-proof technology investments – for Centrica, using the Citrix Cloud has enabled our user base to access the applications they need from any device and this has proved invaluable during the pandemic. This feature will be extremely important in the future, especially as we adjust to new ways of working during COVID-19.
What particular strategic investments have you made that have meant remote working was possible and how do you intend to invest in the future?
Citrix Cloud is of course one, however, Office 365 has been a tremendous help along with having a cloud-based VPN service. It’s all about being able to scale solutions around business needs and ensuring, as a technology function, we are fit for the future and it can meet our customers’ needs as they need us.