by Mark Chillingworth

First Utility power up Google Apps innovation

Dec 23, 20132 mins
Energy IndustryIT LeadershipIT Strategy

Google Apps gives you weekly innovation says Bill Wilkins, CIO of First Utility, an energy retailer, in a CIO Profile. The Midlands company sells gas and electricity it has acquired on the open market to its customers and has opted to put its workforce on

Google Apps rather than a more traditional operating system strategy.

“We use the Google Apps platform because Google is good enough for the content we produce and very good for the collaboration,” CIO Wilkins tells this title.

“The key benefit is innovation week by week. That is the kind of innovation that you want. Users are ill equipped to manage the large upgrade cycle. With Google you get more comfortable with the rate of innovation.

“Google Apps feels right. When people join they need a bit of retraining as they fight the machine a bit. But then they start to collaborate more and there is no ‘attachment hell’,” Wilkins said of the cultural change away from tools like Microsoft Office.

“There is some Microsoft in the organisation – PowerPoint if people need it, and the finance department needs Excel. But for general purposes, Google is 95 per cent good enough and it is £23 per user, per year, and I get that constant stream of innovation.”

First Utilityhas just 1 per cent of the UK’s energy market, but is the next challenger to the Big Six energy firms, all of whom are electricity and gas generators as well as retailers.