Thielbar touches on Capgemini’s ethics, how methodologies are the ‘secret sauce’ of their implementation process and why people and results matter.
UMC: I see that Capgemini has been named a World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute—what is it about your company’s culture that has led to you receiving this honor for the fourth year in a row?
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UMC: How does Capgemini practice environmental mindfulness on a daily basis?
Bart Thielbar: As a global company, we have a set of standards for environmental sustainability that we practice in all of the many countries that we operate in. We have a deep and measured understanding of our impact on the environment and we are working to reduce our effect on the natural environment from energy, business travel and waste. We also raise employee awareness on critical issues in sustainable development. Beyond that, several of our Capgemini Cares events are dedicated to environmental stewardship.
UMC: “Your next BFF is a robot”—so excited about this statement on your website! What are we talking here, drones or is there something else utilities are accessing artificial intelligence for that I’m not aware of?
Bart Thielbar: In the utility industry, there are two prominent examples of our BFF being robots. We have long used smart pigs for gas line inspections and we are just starting to use drones for T&D line inspections, and the inspection of other assets. Beyond the hard asset uses, we are also witnessing the rapid adoption of autonomics. Much like the smart grid is doing for our electric grid, autonomics is helping us create a self-optimizing and self-healing computing environment. This allows utilities to lower Operational and Maintenance (O&M costs) and free up capital for investment in higher priority work.
UMC: One of your employees, Madhavi Lokireddy, stated “Our motto, ‘People Matter, Results Count’ make my everyday life at Capgemini an enthusiastic and pleasurable experience.” This was just one of many quotes from satisfied employees. What aspects of your company’s culture keep your 180,000 employees so enthusiastic?
Bart Thielbar: We are ultimately in the people business and we believe we have the best in the industry. Our people matter and the results they produce for their clients count. As I mentioned in the previous question, our core values are a part of how we operate every day. Our corporate vision is that the business value of technology comes from and through people – experts working together to get to the heart of our clients’ individual business objectives and develop the most adapted solutions to fit these requirements. We believe this human-centered approach to technology is what makes the difference for our clients.
Some of the ways we promote our core values of trust, freedom and fun are through internal programs such as:
- Capgemini Cares
Twice a year each local office organizes and volunteers as a corporate community for that day.
- Diversity & Inclusion Training
We have received external recognition for our program, including awards with Canada’s Best Diversity Employers, The Georgia Diversity Council, the National Association for Female Executives, and Oncor for Supplier Diversity.
- Mentoring Matters
Corporate mentorship program.
- Job Rotation Program
Allows employees to experience a variety of different areas of our business.
- Leadership Training
We are investing in our employees and training our future leaders.
- Group Employee Survey
Occurs every other year to evaluate the overall satisfaction of our employees in their jobs.
UMC: What is the best use for Big Data?
Bart Thielbar: That is actually a common question and one that may have different answers depending on which expert you ask. In my view, big data is only useful if it enables optimized decision making in near real time – and as close to the customer as possible. We are working with several of our customers to make that aspiration come to life.
UMC: Can you elaborate on what your u2es Transformation services entail?
Bart Thielbar: Utilities recognize that the regulated business model that has been in place for decades will not sustain growth objectives in the future years. Demand and revenue has basically flat lined and utilities need to respond with new approaches to their business. Our u2es framework was developed from a multi-year research project with MIT and is fairly simple in design, but also thorough in approach. There are verticals for customer, operations and the new business models that are evolving in the industry. Each of the verticals is designed to leverage the customer and operational benefits of technology advancements, especially those related to digital. At the same time, there are transversal solutions that cut across each of the verticals. These include those areas that are common to any technology and business environment, such as technology infrastructure, testing, mobility and business processes. The “secret sauce” is our methodologies and toolsets for helping utilities optimize across the three verticals and the various transversals to improve their overall bottom line performance, as well as their overall customer satisfaction. Our u2es framework has been leveraged by utilities around the globe to improve their overall performance.
UMC: On the topic of your services, which one is leading the pack right now and why do you think the demand is so high?
Bart Thielbar: Beyond u2es mentioned earlier, Capgemini remains an industry leader in application management, business process outsourcing and in major projects. Within the major projects area, we are a global leader in smart energy services, which includes AMI implementations, Demand Response and Grid Modernization. Also, because we spend very little on advertising and marketing, most wouldn’t know that we had two CIS implementations go live last year. They were completed on time and on budget and leveraged our pre-configured SAP UtilityPath solution. While our competitors have been talking about bringing the benefits of pre-configured solutions to the market, we have been doing it for quite some time. Similarly, we are proud to count some of the largest and most sophisticated utilities in North America as our customers for application management and business process outsourcing.
UMC: Can you describe for me what happens in your Accelerated Solutions Environment?
Bart Thielbar: Our Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) is a tool for collaboration that Capgemini has developed to help our clients achieve results to complex business issues in a rapid manner. Every utility client who has participated in an ASE event raves about the effectiveness of it. Essentially we take the various key stakeholders and gather them together in an ASE environment where professional facilitators and ASE artists help guide the team from solution design to implementation. A full ASE can last from one to three days and results in an actionable plan and path forward for our clients. We have delivered more than 7,000 events in the past 20 years across 25 centers worldwide.
UMC: In your opinion what kind of effect will the Paris Agreement have on the utilities industry? From your experience dealing with clients worldwide, which country will be at the forefront of these changes?
Bart Thielbar: The utility industry seldom gets the credit it deserves for environmental stewardship, particularly over the past decade or so when major changes have been implemented. I think it is too early to say for sure what impact the Paris agreement will have on the industry, but overall, I expect it to be mostly a continuation of the progress that has been made over the past decade. That is, utilities will continue to work with their regulators and customers to soften their overall environmental impact while also protecting their customers from sudden costs shifts.
UMC: What else is in the works? Exciting projects, new services?
Bart Thielbar: We have a few interesting things in the works, but I’ll highlight a couple. First, we believe in the benefits of industrialized and pre-configured solutions.
We don’t believe it is fair to ask customers to pay for the same work that a previous customer paid for on the previous project. By preconfiguring and industrializing solutions, we take much of the risk and the cost out of projects, which provides financial and risk benefits to our customers. We have already industrialized ERP and CIS solutions and are well underway to industrializing AMI and operational based systems, such as DRMS. We anticipate that these efforts will provide both cost savings and project risk mitigation benefits to our customers for many years. Second, we are a leader, if not THE leader, in innovation. Capgemini has worked with many prominent brands in other industries to reimagine and refine customer relationships and operational practices.
We even go so far as to offer innovation as a service and, where appropriate, even sign up for financial risk related to the innovation that we can bring. With the industry in flux, we have found that many utilities are interested in leveraging our lessons learned from other industries AND our strong industry-based expertise to create innovative customer and operational practices.