AGL Energy saw a marked rise in idea sharing and collaboration in the lockdown period, which it attributed to heightened demand among staff to connect with each other and to the company’s broad adoption of Microsoft Teams.
Head of Business Applications & PMO Rishi Dhillon told an SAP virtual industry forum last week that AGL had also been well-placed technology-wise coming into COVID-19 lockdowns on the back of a three-year, $300 million investment in digital transformation.
“Our investment in our digital and mobile platforms over the past three years has been absolutely fantastic in servicing our customers,” Dhillon said.
“The investment in SAP and also our network and capability in our infrastructure has been reaffirmed with this position that we’re in now.”
In the past couple of years, AGL has overhauled its SAP core to S/4 HANA and taken an ‘extreme SAP’ philosophy to the way it augments the platform.
Stil, like other organisations, Dhillon said that AGL had faced some challenges in “mobilising an entire workforce” in a short period, and in keeping operations in India and the Philippines online.
“A lot of our corporate offices and our sales offices are in lockdown in different regions across Australia,” he said.
“We also have a lot of generation plants across a lot of geographical locations and they’re operating under their respective response plans.
“We also have partner services out of the Philippines and India that operate under different jurisdictions as well.
“So trying to mobilise an entire workforce in a situation that’s changing daily presented a lot of challenges along the way.”
Dhillon said AGL had worked with its service providers outside Australia and provided them with solutions “to be able to service our customers while they’re working from home as well.”
He said AGL had looked to Microsoft Teams to handle much of the collaboration needed during the lockdown.
“From an organisation perspective we’ve shifted a lot of our collaboration across to Microsoft Teams as our platform, and that’s working really really well,” he said.
The company is running most of its operations virtually, including “hackathons, planning/strategic days, and team days”, as well as company social events like virtual trivia and drinks.
This had “allowed people to stay connected and to share ideas,” Dhillon noted.
“What we’ve now discovered is the new way of collaborating has just accelerated,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot more people participate … wanting to make human connections has actually driven a higher rate of participation.
“Some of the health surveys we’ve done across the organisation prove that a lot of people are a lot more engaged in some of the initiatives we want to try and drive and deliver.”
As lockdowns eased, Dhillon said AGL would need to take stock of what arrangements it kept and accepted as a new way of work.
“For AGL, there will be a time where we do a stocktake with regards to what the experience has shown us and what we’ve learned from it,” he said.
Dhillon said that AGL would continue to invest in mobilising its workforce.
“The investment is going to continue,” he said.
“It’s really underway [already] with being cloud-first in everything we do at the moment, and it’s going to continue to grow.
“I think this is going to really show us a new way of how we come together as an organisation … and strike the right balance for a new breed of people and talent to be able to find a good work-life balance while they work for our organisation.”