Peter Warren is CGI’s global industry lead for energy and utilities. In this role, he works with local business units helping to advance the transformation of oil, gas, and renewables firms, as well as electricity, gas and water utilities across ...
By Peter Warren
The CGI Voice of Our Clients (VOC) data helps us reveal common trends emerging across industries, but also dichotomies within them. We can identify gaps between peers and competitors, but often the greater value for our clients lies in discovering discrepancies within their own organizations — between departments and management levels, for example.
As digitization accelerates, disconnects are not uncommon. What the specific disconnect points to, however, is where unique value lies. Asking VOC questions among different parts of the organization provides insight into whether teams are on the same page to identify action plans for improvement.
Here are some examples of how our clients benefit from consultative conversations resulting from VOC findings:
C-level alignment with operations
In one VOC follow-up, C-level executives indicated that the organization is moving in a particular direction and is focused on certain priorities. Yet, operations-level answers did not align with those same priorities. This enabled a discussion on how to close the priority gap within the organization.
Business alignment with IT
For one organization, we saw discrepancies in how business and IT executives ranked their priorities. The client investigated the root cause, revealing an internal communications issue.
For another client, we discussed with business leaders ways to use Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting to prove the electron they sell is greener than the competition. When meeting with their IT department, however, we discovered a gap in awareness of this topic, even though IT owned the data needed to create the reports. While we built a system to resolve this specific issue, insights from the client’s VOC answers highlighted a wider gap for management to address.
The evolution of ESG as a collective responsibility
While ESG isn’t a new topic, it is increasing in scope and meaning. Its evolution is akin to how cybersecurity has become an invaluable, collective responsibility. Not long ago, executives and boards weren’t involved with cybersecurity, but today they must be to ensure awareness and accountability at all levels of the organization.
Through our VOC conversations, we are witnessing a similar shift in thinking toward ESG. No longer a priority for just one siloed team, ESG is pervasive in everything organizations do. It increasingly affects their ability to operate and be seen as an ethical enterprise.
Year-on-year, the VOC questions delve deeper into what organizations prioritize when it comes to ESG – within their own operations and with their external business relationships. This area will continue to be one worth tracking.
Beyond the obvious environmental considerations, which are crucial to the energies and utilities industry, ESG brings more social issues to the mainstream discourse. This includes questions such as, “How do I address my aging employee population?” or “Is the way we do business inclusive?” and “Are we considering neurodiversity in our approach?”
For example, one client has a legacy carbon-based plant and wants to build a new hydrogen plant. How do they approach the different team dynamics? One group is approaching retirement, while another is looking to build and innovate. VOC data helps provide insights into innovation priorities as organizations consider neurodiversity as an asset to future success.
Macro trends questions lead to richer discussions
Our VOC questions around macro trends generate rich conversations with clients on the bigger picture, opening up new ways of thinking about their business.
As we’ve witnessed across industries, macro trends increasingly are relevant because your competition isn’t who you think it is anymore. It could be an investment company buying a factory because it’s on the water and has hydroelectricity. They may plan to make hydrogen and transport it via pipelines. This will impact your pipelines, which used to flow from a supplier directly to your customers. Gases like hydrogen will now flow in more than one direction, so you have to draw lessons from the electrical industry, which faced similar challenges when people started putting solar panels on their roofs.
One of the greatest values of the VOC lies in what organizations learn about themselves. When one executive needed to conduct further research to answer key questions, they also worked to address this knowledge gap within their wider organization.
When we sit down with our clients to have VOC conversations, we aren’t simply examining the world at surface value; we’re looking at the complex nuances of cause and effect, leading to a deeper understanding of gaps between actions and behaviors.
The VOC presents the opportunity to identify areas of disruption clients can consider as they advance their business strategies and enhance their day-to-day operations.
Listen to our podcast to learn about VOC insights for energy and utilities.
Learn more about how the VOC program can help you gain insights you can act on
Every year, CGI leaders meet with business and IT executives to gather their perspectives on the trends affecting their enterprises. These industry insights, including the attributes of digital leaders, lead to actions that best satisfy the needs of your customers and citizens.
Voice of Our Clients gathers our clients’ perspectives on the trends affecting their enterprises. Learn more about the VOC program.