Collaboration for Innovation: Discovering the power of Smart Video & AI to drive benefits in the Utilities industry

At the recent Northumbrian Water #InnovationFestival21, we were excited to sponsor a sprint spanning 3 days where innovators from across the industry joined heads to uncover the common problems faced by utilities. They collaborated to explore how the core components of smart video + AI can accelerate productivity, reduce costs and better us towards sustainability.

Northumbrian Water #InnovationFestival21

Day 1 – The power of smart video

After a round of introductions, we discussed the current state of affairs for field work in most utilities and the challenges faced. We explored the use of Vyn SmartVideoNotes to digitise paper checklists, assist field workers in capturing richer data and how to make the most of that data. Vyn clients, including NWL, United Utilities, Welsh Water and Cadent Gas discussed their experiences (thank you!) and then a big old brainstorm ensued focusing on where the use of Vyn could help produce some strong outcomes.

Here’s what some of our customers had to say about their experiences with Vyn SmartVideoNotes:

“It’s just like Catchphrase – Say what you see!”
– Craig Rayner, NWL

“This is going to be the future – it will replace a lot of technology in use today.”
– Manager, Developer Services

Day 2 – The doors opened with AI

Today was a day for inspiration. To facilitate this we invited a variety of speakers to share their perspectives. First up was Ramani Hariharan (Head of New Business Factory at Engie) with a session on how important innovation is to our daily work-lives and how we can improve adoption by leading behavioural and cultural changes across the organisation. He explained that innovation is a marathon and not a sprint as some might expect. You won’t see it bringing in money from the offset, but only once it has been welcomed well into the family.

“Innovation is becoming business as usual. Anything less means we are not keeping up with technology.”
– Ramani Hariharan, Engie

This fired up a great discussion afterwards about approaches, incentives and upskilling opportunities. Some highlights were that the biggest issue is currently finding the most efficient ways to incentivise quick adoption. Ramani shared that what has worked across Engie is paying attention to the operational field teams using the innovation, capturing and acting upon their feedback. It’s also important to align incentives and approaches at the management/director level to convince all stakeholders to pull together. Ramani mentioned that this is something that remains a work in progress.

After lunch, we heard from Mayank Sharma (Chief Data Officer at Vyn) who drilled home the point about obtaining quality data by asking the right questions. Then we let our imaginations run wild to see where AI could take us – helping the business, customers or colleagues.


Day 3 – The reality of bringing smart video & AI into the workplace

On the final day, we started off by seeing some real-life applications of AI in the field, before moving on to evaluating our ideas with a practical lens applied: assessing business value, feasibility in terms of technology, processes & people, getting the right leadership buy-in, and communication of tailored benefits. One key learning was that building a feedback loop into any process is critical. Every technician and customer should know what has happened with the data captured/issue reported in order to drive adoption & engagement.

By the end, we had built the foundations for a really strong toolkit with which to sensibly bring innovation into the workplace – how to approach implementation, getting the right stakeholders on board and ideas around onboarding and upskilling options.

“What an amazing day we’ve had! Fantastic to see such great collaboration across the industry with lots of common ideas surfacing”
– Judith Welford, Senior IS Programme Manager, NWL

We will work on finalising and polishing the toolkit over the coming weeks, before making it available to any interested parties. Meanwhile, why not see how you could achieve accelerated outcomes like a 32% reduction in field visits by using Vyn SmartVideoNotes: Digitalising processes and workflows, enhancing insights from data and AI, and upskilling teams using their own expert knowledge.

If you’re interested in collaborating with us to drive sustainable innovation and harness the power of Smart Video & AI within your organization, your journey can start here.


If you are a Vyn customer or Vyn user, we welcome you to join the community. If you are not one (yet), let’s change that.


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