Industry ‘must rethink IT strategy’ to get value for money, says Xoserve chief

The energy industry could get more value for money from its big technology programmes by copying the approach of other sectors and “bleeding dry” its existing systems. That is the view of Xoserve chief executive Sian Baldwin, who has joined the company after delivering major technology upgrades in the telecoms sector.

In an exclusive interview with New Power, Baldwin said value for money for consumers has to focus on returns on capital employed, and that applies as much to software and systems and companies as it does to pipes and cables in the ground. But what she sees in energy’s software assets is a new system for every project. She has looked at how much duplication there is in this market “and it is big”.

For example, Baldwin said she believes Xoserve should be able to pitch for a bigger role in a major ‘faster switching’ initiative now under way. The company has just come out of a major upgrade, Project Nexus. That implemented the UKLink system that has much of the capability needed. In other sectors, she says, “if you had invested £110 million in something… you would be bleeding the assets dry”.

Baldwin says the industry needs overarching governance of its architecture and assets. “For example,” she says, “we tend to tackle problems by duplicating data in more than one place. It’s an absolute crime to technology principles. And yet we do this all the time.”

She added, “so our architectural governance needs to be improved, our asset management as an industry needs to be improved and there should be conversations about the number of management teams, boards, governance committees that we have and whether all that really represents value for money for consumers.

“If you built this from scratch you wouldn’t do it this way.”

Baldwin also talked about how she is making the company, which underpins switching and settlement in the gas industry, more responsive to customers. She joined this summer as Project Nexus was implemented after years of delay. Now, she says, if in a year’s time “we don;t look and feel like a very different company, then I will have failed”.

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Further reading

Project Nexus fears: new gas settlement system faces further delay

Ofgem gives approval for Project Nexus go-live on 1 June