BT leads the sprint to improve field working practice at NWG Innovation Festival

Nigel Watson


Improvements to customer service, resilience and affordability in businesses that employ large numbers of field workers will come under the microscope during a week of activity led by BT at the NWG Innovation Festival.

Picture shows Nigel Watson, Northumbrian Water Group′s Director of Information Services.

BT will be leading a group comprising businesses, academics and members of the public, focussing upon companies that operate regulated networks, such as utilities and telecoms providers.
The work comes as part of Northumbrian Water Group’s (NWG) Innovation Festival, which is bringing together some of the world’s leading businesses to tackle major social and environmental challenges.

The festival aims to bring together the best innovative minds, using design ‘sprint’ thinking to explore and create new solutions to some of the biggest social and environmental challenges we face. ‘Sprints’ apply leading design thinking techniques to problem solving.

BT will lead a sprint aimed at helping field workers contribute to improvements to the way their companies operate.

Tom Baker, BT’s CIO Major Corporate, said: “Companies that employ a large number of field workers do so in a complex environment, with lots of elements to consider.

These include health and safety, customer service, staff welfare, legal and other regulatory requirements, environmental impact, efficiency, asset tracking and affordability. During the sprint we hope to combine our own experience of operating one of the largest field crews in the UK, with the innovative ideas of other participants, to come up with new solutions.”

The festival takes place at Newcastle Racecourse from July 10 to July 14, with 400 people expected to attend each of the five days.

‘21st Century Reach: How Can We Optimise A Mobile Workforce For A Complex Network Business?’ will start on the Monday, when the gathered delegates will scope the nature of the problem, and work through the week to develop key ideas that will be subjected to scrutiny from members of the public. At the end of the week, the sprint’s findings will be presented to a gathering of industry experts and regulators.

The Innovation Festival is supported by headline sponsors IBM, Microsoft, Reece Innovation, CGI, Ordnance Survey and BT, who will be leading the search for answers to other big social and environmental questions.

Nigel Watson, Northumbrian Water Group Information Services Director, said: “It’s fantastic to have BT involved in this sprint, because it gives us an alternative viewpoint on the types of challenges and logistics that field workers face, adding to our own experience. The idea is that by the end of the week, we will have taken the experience, ideas and creativity of around 50 people and turned that into some great solutions to help companies like Northumbrian Water and BT to deliver improvements to service and customer experience.”

The work to tackle six key problems will take place in a true festival environment that will also feature live comedy and music, as well as inspirational talks.

The big questions under consideration during the week are:

‘Rain, Hail or Shine’: How can we reduce flooding? Led by headline sponsor IBM
‘Keep It Flowing’: What do we know about leakage from water pipes and how can we fix it? Led by NWG, alongside a Microsoft-led Hackathon of data relating to leakage.
‘Preparing for the Future’: How do we upgrade our infrastructure for the 21st Century effectively and affordably? Led by headline sponsor Reece Innovation
‘Tomorrow’s World’: What will living and working look like in 2030? Led by headline sponsor CGI
‘How Green is Your City?’: What can businesses do to improve the environment in the North East? Led by headline sponsor Ordnance Survey
‘21st Century Reach’: How can we optimise a mobile workforce for a complex network business? Led by headline sponsor BT

The NWG Innovation Festival is also being delivered in association with Newcastle University, Durham University, Genesys, Interserve in partnership with Amec Foster Wheeler, Costain Resources, PC1, Tech Mahindra, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB), Wipro, Virgin Media Business, Schneider, Wheatley Solutions, Sopra Steria, Accenture, 1Spatial, Infosys, Unify, ITPS, Esh-MWH, and Pen Test Partners.

People can find out more about what’s taking place at the NWG Innovation Festival, and how they can get involved at

For further media information, call 0191 3015678.

Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water, and 1.8 million customers in the South East with water services, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.

In the most recent survey by the Consumer Council for Water, Northumbrian Water was named the UK’s most trusted water company by its customers. 2017 also saw Northumbrian Water named the world’s most ethical water company for the seventh successive year.

Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham DH1 5FJ. Telephone 0345 6047468. Website:

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