ENGIE: Powering the Energy Transition with Data

The energy transition is upending the ways in which governments, regulators, individuals and businesses view and behave themselves. In this context, how does an energy-focused company transition its own organisation and its established ways of operating in order to be better equipped for the challenges posed by the energy transition? In this short piece, we introduce a case study which looks at how Engie, a 150-year old industrial giant leverages modern tools to better serve not only its clients but its own business units and ultimately its strategic vision. 

Theodoros Evgeniou is a Professor of Decision Sciences and Technology at INSEAD. Together with his colleague Pal Boza, a Senior Research Associate, he published a case study focused on the data and technology transition of Engie. Whilst there is much chatter about the energy transition itself, there is little focus on how energy companies can better equip themselves with tools which can aid this transition. More than being a purely technological matter, this shift entails cultural, organisational and strategic changes of significant scale. Naturally, these changes result in friction and potentially tensions within the organisation.

So how did Engie do it? In steps, or rather seasons, as we found out during the webinar with Yves le Gelard, EVP in charge of Digital and Information Systems and Mihir Sarkar, Chief Data Officer. 

The first season was described by Yves as an approach akin to fiscal stimulus whereby geographical units are provided with tools and skill sets paid for at the corporate level. These geographical units are free to choose their course of action but do so in the knowledge that selecting resources provided Engie will effectively be free of charge. 

In the ensuing season, roles are reversed and the impetus is Engie-led as opposed to being led by business units. The course of action is orchestrated centrally and is driven by three hubs located in Paris, Houston and Rio de Janeiro. 

Finally, in the last season, alignment is sought with the overarching strategy set by the CEO. 

Mihir also alludes to a stepped approach by referring to Engie’s transition from Information Technology to Digital, followed by a transition from data to Artificial Intelligence. Indeed, he concludes, data is now a raw material. 

The webinar also saw active participation from the audience, whose questions revolved around the impact of geographical and cultural differences in crafting and deploying a strategy, CAPEX allocation and the impact of cultural differences in leveraging data and AI in organisations spanning multiple business lines and countries. At the beginning of the session, Professor Evgeniou posed a key question: how will the IT/ digital/ data organisation evolve at Engie?

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