By Philip Taphouse, Command Centre and ServiceNow Programme Manager
at Thames Water
I once came across a quote by Tim Huval, CHRO
of Humana, on how ‘ a good employee experience is one where each
employee feels that they can fully be themselves, freely
contributing their talents, bright ideas and energy, to support
the organisation’s mission and success ’.
echoes with what we are striving to achieve for our own employees at
Thames Water. We want to create amazing experiences for our
workforce and our 15 million customers and inspire them to become
our lifelong advocates.
Today, technology plays a fundamental
role in transforming perceptions of customers and employees. But
this means organisations have to be smart about the way they invest
in new technologies to build a high-performance culture and customer
At Thames Water, it’s fair to say that, at first, we
learnt this the hard way. We had no real control or visibility of
our IT infrastructure and that restricted our understanding over how
to build customer trust and drive positive employee experiences.
Taking back control
The problem was that we were
allowing multiple suppliers to manage and report on every aspect of
our IT support and operations. Our suppliers were determining our
approach and telling us how well they were doing – in essence, they
were marking their own homework.
ServiceNow allowed us to
take back ownership of all our tools, data, governance and
processes, by creating a platform for a service integration and
management (SIAM) model.
We now have a full command centre
for all Thames Water IT operations and support, offering visibility
of every application, incident, project and machine in one place
— and the results have been dramatic.
When you’re running a
vast and varied portfolio of more than 650 essential business
applications, visibility is key. If one goes down it can mean
hundreds of field engineers are left on the road without knowing
where to go, customers that can’t access their accounts online, or
water testing putting quality control on hold.
ServiceNow, this has completely changed. For a start, the increased
visibility of our IT operation means outages are few and far
between. If they do happen, then we can almost immediately identify
the issue down to the level of a specific database queue or even a
single line of code.
Opening the digital workflow tap
The cost and time
savings generated through orchestration and digital workflows have
been immense — and there are numerous, concrete ways these have
manifested in the business.
For example, the time taken for
virtual machine builds has been reduced from 45 days to just three
days. We can pop up microsites or create and run fully-automated
scripts to build an entire platform in only three hours. When we
demonstrated this to our board recently, I can honestly say they
were gobsmacked. It’s a transformational change for the
The Return on Investment (ROI) is staggering too.
Our estimates indicate cost savings of between £6m-£10m a year as a
direct result of the orchestrations and accelerated digital
workflows that are enabled by the ServiceNow platform.
Virtual agents, chatbots and mobile capabilities to support any
Our service desk used to be called the
‘unhelpful desk’ by many of our 6,000 employees, but we’ve
completely turned around perceptions.
Our employees really
care about the work they are doing, whether it’s they are dealing
with a pipe leak in the field, talking to customers in our call
centre, or working in head office. We have a responsibility to make
sure we are giving them the IT infrastructure, applications and
support to empower them in their roles.
The Thames Water
employee portal, Taps, provides a modern way for everyone in the
organisation to interact with IT, with digital workflows ensuring
any problem, incident or request is processed at pace.
also adding some exciting features with ServiceNow’s virtual agent
and chat capabilities. If an issue or outage occurs, ServiceNow’s
Virtual Agent automatically sends a message to any
employee that might be affected via Microsoft Teams and a banner is
created to flag that IT is already working to fix the problem.
Chatbots are also on hand to give employees an immediate way to
find out more information and get updates in real time – with no
human intervention required.
Unlocking productivity and more meaningful work
transformation within Thames Water has been dramatic. The ServiceNow
platform has given us back control and digital workflows and
AI-powered technologies have removed time-consuming, manual
But we’re not about to replace humans. Our journey with
ServiceNow has only served to highlight how much potential we were
stifling within our organisation. By freeing up the IT team and our
wider workforce from dealing with IT and operational issues, we are
giving them the freedom to add value to the business.
CHRO of Humana pointed out, enabling our employees to contribute
their talents, bright ideas and energy is what a great employee
experience is all about.