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Partnerships in business: O2 and NWG

Jez Sherwin, Experience Design Lead & Digital Creative Director to The Lab at O2, discusses O2’s business partnership with Northumbria Water Group (NWG).

Last month, O2’s specialist innovation division, The Lab, took part in NWG’s Innovation Festival for the second year running, hosting a five-day design sprint assessing the likely impact of 5G on the utilities sector.

O2 and NWG

NWG provides water and waste water services in the North East of England. In total, the group has more than 3,200 employees serving 4.5 million customers, with a turnover of just under £1 billion a year.

The group has ambitious plans to lead the world in digital technology for water companies, with the simple aim of becoming ‘the most digital water company in the world’. To achieve that goal, NWG were looking for a technology partner to support their digital strategy, which combined a range of initiatives all working together to improve efficiencies and develop new ways of working and communicating.

O2 is proud to be that technology partner. We provide NWG with a reliable, secure network that will enable smart technologies like Internet of Things (IOT) sensors, coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, to detect and even predict leaks. Other innovations include the Utileyes app, which allows customers to send video of a problem direct to NWG’s Customer Centre.

More than just technology

NWG was clear, however, that finding the right business partner was about more than simply identifying an organisation capable of delivering the technology itself. NWG wanted a partner with a similar mindset and culture that shared its forward-thinking, can-do ethos:

“We were really looking for an organisation that shared the same values as us. We wanted a partner that has the same feeling of being innovative, that’s at the heart of a community, and really cares about its customers. We believe we’ve found that in O2.”

Nigel Watson, NWG’s Group Director of Information Services

It’s why we are working with NWG to develop innovative new working methods for employees, and communication with customers, some of which are still relatively new to the water industry. We also support the company with schemes around employee wellbeing and development, and community initiatives like StartUp Academy, which offers support and advice for small businesses.

NWG Innovation Festival

Last month’s Innovation Festival is another good example. It’s an important event in NWG’s calendar that brings together employees, customers and industry stakeholders, so we feel privileged to be invited not just to sponsor the event, but to contribute to it. Last year we hosted a five-day design sprint focused on employee wellbeing, and this year, we explored the impact that 5G will have and how it could transform the utilities sector.

“O2 really threw themselves into the event. They invested the time to understand our business and the problems that we’re trying to solve, and deliver the kind of experience that we want to deliver.”

Nigel Watson, NWG’s Group Director of Information Services

The bottom line is that this is a business partnership that endures because there is synergy between the overall objectives, purpose and culture of both organisations. And we are excited at the prospect of finding new and innovative ways to support NWG to become ‘the most digital water company in the world’.


To find out more about Northumbria Water Group and our work together click here.

At O2 we’re always here to help support your business growth journey. For more information or guidance, just get in touch.


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