British Gas gaining competitive edge with cloud

Speaking at this year’s Cloud World Forum, British Gas business solutions director David Trice explained that using the cloud effectively can make a huge difference to the level of service customers receive.

“We offer a commodity in energy and gas," Trice said. "It doesn’t change colour, quality or shape if you switch to another supplier, so we have to differentiate on service, product quality and price.”

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As well as competing against traditional rivals in the energy space, British Gas has launched its own Hive smart heating system to compete against Google’s Nest thermostat. If the cloud can enable British Gas to lower its operating costs, these savings can be passed on to the consumer, giving the company a competitive edge.

As a result, British Gas is altering its business strategy from next month, while the lease on its current data centre is due to expire in 2017. The company will then have decide whether to move all of its operations to the public cloud.

The UK energy supplier also knew it was time to formally move to the cloud upon discovering the huge amount of shadow IT operations taking place, usually involving software as a service (SaaS) or public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“What we set out with the cloud programme was to deliver services that were fast and easy to set up, but done so in a responsible fashion,” Trice added. “Previously we were nibbling at the edges of the cloud and not addressing it in a very proactive way. This isn’t about us introducing new technology, this is about us being successful with it.”

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As part of its new approach to the cloud, British Gas has begun a public loud incubator scheme in order to develop projects like Pulse, an app for engineers to use on the job, and other innovative proposals.