UK infrastructure industry to undergo massive change

16 July 2015 Consultancy.uk

The UK’s infrastructure is getting old, and will soon come into the eye of both its users as well as its funders as it finally starts to give way. Yet infrastructure organisations continue to face issues with making their services to the public clear. In a recent survey, Boxwood highlights that infrastructure organisations will need to transform themselves to become more customer-centric.

Infrastructure in the UK has long supported the way of life now available to many. The infrastructure is however, getting old and – with potential breakdowns – will soon come to show itself as something which needs careful attention. In a recent CBI-URS survey, the state of the infrastructure in the UK is considered, as well as how those charged with the upkeep are faring into the future. The findings are relatively concerning as the survey finds that over two-thirds of respondents anticipate that the energy and road infrastructure will deteriorate over the next five years.

To find out how organisations charged with developing plans for the future of the infrastructure in the UK are managing, Boxwood* ran a survey within the industry for a report titled ‘Infrastructure for the next generation’. The survey targeted upper-level management from a wide range of industries, including rail, highways, water, and electricity, among others.

The need for change

Changing infrastructure
The survey highlights that the sector remains in a relatively weak position on a number of fronts. Customers do not understand the significance of infrastructure and the industry is not able to find the right skills for the job. Besides which, cultural issues remain ingrained, with counter productivity in the face of the coming challenges a concern.

The industry does see the need for transformation. Of the respondents, 72% believe that the industry and/or their own organisations recognise a need to change, however only 14% strongly agreed with this statement. In term of specific areas in which organisations were questioned about the need for change, 87% recognised the need to change the relationship with their customer, 78% recognised the need to change their culture and 71% recognised the need to change skills and capabilities.

Using data to improve the customer relationship

The consulting firm explores three specific areas in which the respondents, the first of these related to the use of big data in the way they interact with customers. More than 50% do not believe they are leading the way in improving customer relationships through big data leverage, with less than 10% strongly agreeing. Of the respondents, 70% say that they are exploring using data to improve customer experience.

The vast majority however believes that big data has a significant role to play in their organisation, with 88% agreeing that data, information and connectivity will change how they build, maintain and operate the network; 93% agreeing that it will change how customers engage with their offerings; and 86% agreeing that companies could make better use of data to improve customer experience/engagement.

Impact of data, information and connectivity

Not only can changes be brought about through the leveraging of data however, the survey also highlights that organisations need to better communicate to their customers and users. The biggest barrier to customer engagement, according to Boxwood, is that 51% of customers do not understand the service provided. Another 48% thinks that the organisation’s culture is not customer centric and 41% thinks they do not have the skills and capabilities to manage the customer well.

Biggest barriers to improving customer engagement

The final area in which organisations saw a need for change is in attracting the skills required to get the job done – with management and technical roles both highlighted as problem areas. Of the organisations surveyed, 90% felt that lack of skills was either an issue now or would be in the future. More than half (56%) say they lacked managers and 41% analytics staff, with engineers in third at 30%. Only 4% strongly agrees that they were successfully attracting enough of the right people.

Looking forward, 55% of organisations feel that there is sufficient investment in developing new skills and 67% in training traditional skills. The industry remains bright about its long term future (88%), with 86% ‘excited’ about the future of their own organisation.

Most lacking skills

* Consulting firm Boxwood was acquired by KPMG last month.

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