The largest water and water recycling company in England and Wales is using the cloud-based Wazoku Idea Spotlight software-as-a-service platform to enable the company to encourage its 4,000 employees to share their ideas.
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The platform, called Think Space, allows Anglian Water to create internal or external communities to discuss ideas, feedback and insight. The company said it intends to extend the platform to customers and supply chain partners.
Head of innovation at Anglian Water, Steve Kaye, said he believes open innovation is an “untapped source”,
“The Think Space platform provides a platform for colleagues to post challenges and ideas, post feedback and create communities across the company,” he said.
Thirty ideas were submitted through Think Space in the first month, while the company sets employees challenges which address specific issues, through the platform. The first issue was how to achieve zero waste, sent to selected ‘champions’ in the business who were asked to spread the word among colleagues.
Anglian sets targets for collaboration platform
Over the next year, Anglian Water hopes to gain four key outcomes from Think Space, with at least 10% of staff contributing.
“If we meet those targets then we will take Think Space to our customers too, as I am sure they will also be a rich source of ideas,” said Kaye.
The success of Think Space will be measured by return on investment, levels of engagement, benefits to the reputation of Anglian Water and other non-financial benefits, such as serviceability.
Kaye also said he hopes the platform will help retain employees, while attracting the best talent from across the globe.
“There is a mass of talent in our organisation and, to unlock that potential, we need to develop a true culture of innovation across the business,” said Kaye. “People will know their input and contributions are valued and we can all grow our skills and knowledge from open innovation.”
Embracing digital technology
Software quality has become a significant area of investment for the company, accounting for as much as 30% of IT project budget costs. Yet a software error could lead to customers receiving an incorrect bill.
Anglian Water prefers not to measure itself against other water companies, preferring to compare its technology against companies such as Amazon.
Anglian Water is an advocate for sharing information with third parties, such as councils, engineering contractors, industry partners, suppliers and customers. The company collaborates with regulators.
It takes the view that being open with data creates opportunities to make processes more efficient, and helps to drive down project costs and timeframes.
By tracking social data created by customers, Anglian Water said it can spot water consumption and other trends and solve leakage and drainage problems more quickly.