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For utilities, the transformative potential of remotely-operated infrastructure is immense. How do you unlock best value from this kind of solution to improve resilience?

In the second of two articles on the subject, Hariprasad Beerappa, Principal Consultant at Enzen, explains why integrity is crucial to such a transition, both in terms of the data migrated and the relationships developed.

In my previous article, I explained how Enzen migrated a gas distribution network’s entire control room infrastructure and suite of applications to a public cloud platform – a first for the UK gas industry and an excellent example of innovative lean asset management.

As the nerve centre of its entire operations, the control room monitors and controls pressure and alarm systems across 36,000 km of pipeline, which service 6.7 million consumers. It’s one of the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure systems, and as such we needed to deliver a solution that gave the customer full visibility, control and confidence over everything.

Preserving data integrity

Underpinning this was the critical need to preserve the utility’s data integrity. The various applications within the control room are dependent on each other's data to be effective, while wider industry is very reliant on the accuracy of the data to gauge the supply and demand of gas.

Enzen ensured data integrity was a critical feature of our solution. We had to resolve questions like ‘How do we migrate data securely from on-premise to cloud without any loss?’, ‘How do we present back the data to the users securely to do their work?’ and ‘How do we sync the data migrated to the business?’

All this called for to-the-minute planning, testing, controlling and executing. We’re proud to say we achieved the switch (moving from on-premise to cloud) in less than 30 minutes when it would have normally taken around three to four hours.

Empowering systems and people

The business transformation achieved through this kind of intelligent digitalisation is immense. By liberating systems control from physical constraints to the cloud – and preserving data integrity in the process – we created a platform for greater innovation and facilitated connectivity between the utility and the wider industry with much greater security and simplicity.

At the heart of any solution like this – especially one which requires a leap of faith from those more comfortable with the traditional way of doing things – lies the ability of experts like Enzen’s knowledge practitioners to empower customers in the process.

One of the most pleasing things about the project was how we enabled the customer’s team to oversee much of the operation, including real-time expenditure, themselves – an excellent example of how Enzen’s purpose is to empower not just systems but people.

Deep collaboration and empathy

As a knowledge enterprise which prides itself on driving positive change and unlocking value for our customers, we’re acutely aware that we have to disrupt the status quo and also take people with us while doing so.

On one level that requires continual testing, demonstration and proof-of-concept. But on another it needs a collaborative mindset designed to create a sense of mutual ownership. That’s something which can only be achieved when you have deep empathy for a utility’s business.

Trust is earned through knowledge, tools and their intelligent, systematic application. But it’s also earned by appreciation and respect for all involved.

Technology may be advancing exponentially in the 21st century, but the principle of successful collaboration between people will always remain the same.

Published: 24 Apr 2020

Last updated: 1 Jun 2020

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