In October, the Ntegra team was busy taking part in the Northumbrian Water Group Innovation Festival, the first of its kind to be held in a hybrid environment. The festival aims to gather some of the greatest and most innovative minds from the worlds of business, science, tech, engineering, utilities, and customer services and get them to tackle real-world problems together in a series of sprints over 4 days.
As a part of our ongoing partnership with Northumbrian Water Group, Ntegra sponsored a design sprint entitled “Blurred Lines: Hybrid Working”. The sprint focused on exploring ideas and applications of technology for potential solutions that can help members of an organisation collaborate, share knowledge, and manage people in ways that drive a consistent experience between the physical and digital world.
By the end of the week, our sprint generated three concepts:
The proposed ‘Fountain of Knowledge’, H2OW is designed to be the NWG employee hub for anything and everything that can empower them to execute their role to the highest standard. The vision is for users to integrate H2OW into their working life to search for the answers when they ask “How do I …” including tutorial videos and documents, skills matrix so you are able to pinpoint subject matter experts and a live Chatbot(more on that later).
This already prototyped application can then be built within NWG’s SharePoint hosted Intranet, The Source and be linked into HR records of training and development as well as grow into a forum space where a community and open conversation can be built around expanding and sharing expertise.
The vision was for Chatbot to be integrated within the H2OW application. The purpose of the Chatbot is to become the place where NWG employees go to get their questions answered in a self-service style. With their organisational structure having people dispersed across the country there is a gap within their systems for a place where people can go to get their questions answered quickly without having to wait around for someone to get back to them.
The Chatbot will be able to cover a number of topics including onboarding, tech support, operational FAQ’s however, if the data is not yet there to answer a specific question, then a ticket will be raised for the NWG IT team to get back to them and also input the missing data into the Chatbot. Analytical data pulled will also be able to guide further applicational developments and will also highlight to the senior team where there are gaps in people’s knowledge and training.
This employee onboarding application was designed to overcome a current business obstacle of a complicated and fragmented process when a new starter joins the organisation. Surf aims to build a one-stop-shop with functionality on any device for managers and employees to access and ensure that there is a consistent process before, during and after a new member joins the team.
Highlights of the application include:
· Progress tracker and personal induction plan to ensure essential tasks have been completed
· Equipment ordering e-shop according to employee’s job specification
· System set up with essential training
· New employee care and connect area where they will be introduced to their new job and working space before their first day
Over the 4 days, those taking part managed to brainstorm, research and draft together their concepts but also begin to create a prototype of how their application would look and function when used. Imagine what could have been created if they had longer than 4 days!
Some thoughts about the week from some of the Ntegra team that took part:
" The Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival was a smoothly-run, exciting event that generated a lot of interesting ideas. Every participant was enthusiastic and got involved in every task. Although we were all working remotely, I felt connected to everyone thanks to the tools we were using, especially the Miro board that helped to collate everyone’s thoughts and allowed us all to be interactive. I am looking forward to seeing how all the ideas will develop. "
Reagan Vose, Junior Developer
“ The NWIF was a truly inspirational event with a fully engaged team from start to finish. It was interesting to see how the ideas evolved throughout the process. The well-structured approach enabled everyone to think both individually and as part of a team. The best part for me was the diverse input from those attending and being able to innovate with a wider perspective. That combined expertise led to some fantastic ideas and I'm keen to see how both these and the overall knowledge is progressed further. ”
Sean Bailey, Senior Developer