Engaging users to drive the right business outcomes
The PG&E and Cognizant partnership took a courageous approach to innovation that provided space for experimentation combined with rigorous discipline around outcome management and governance. Both companies knew that driving organization-wide excitement about citizen development and empowering users with the skills and training they needed to be active participants were critical to the Digital Productivity program. “Even before PG&E implemented Power Platform there was a huge focus on making sure everyone in the enterprise knew about it and then demystifying it along the way,” said Bryan Glass, Director of Automation Advisory at Cognizant.
The program kicked off by gaining alignment on the company’s vision and working with key stakeholders to determine standards and governance. With over 1,000 stakeholders joining the program launch, there was a robust effort to raise awareness. From there idea sourcing began in earnest with SME’s and process owners.
In addition to training more than 1,200 co-workers, the company held a Shark Tank-like hackathon in October 2021 that empowered users to develop their own ideas. One hundred co-workers volunteered to participate and were divided into 19 teams that spent a month developing solutions alongside Cognizant mentors. Each team presented its solutions to Directors and VPs from across the enterprise, the “sharks,” who were so impressed with the results that every app presented was green lit for production.
Today PG&E has more than 800 active citizen makers developing apps and flows on Power Platform and has formalized a Community of Practice to empower all team members, drive results at scale, and create a problem-solving culture. “The Digital Productivity COE and Power Platform let us replace sweat equity with tech equity,” said Tom Bilbo, Principal Product Owner, Digital Productivity COE at PG&E. “Everyone can have access to tech, everyone can build a solution, and everyone can use it.” Alla Gogerman, leader of the Digital Productivity COE at PG&E added, “This platform enables us to realize how low investment and high return it is.”
Deep technical and business expertise helps ensure customer success
Recognized by Microsoft as a global leader in implementing Power Platform, Cognizant has strong technical knowledge built through its Power Platform technology COE and participation in Microsoft early-adopter programs that provide opportunities to evaluate and influence services and products before they are released. However, as evidenced by its work in the development of the PG&E Community of Practice, it is its ability to work from the client’s perspective that is a key differentiator in driving success with its growing customer base. “Most of our team members are previous practitioners who have either run automation centers of excellence themselves or been on a COE team,” said Delmedico. “We know how important empowering people, setting up governance and security, and driving adoption are in achieving desired business outcomes.”
To help ensure positive results, the Cognizant Advisory COE was formed to empower business teams to build applications that improve processes, enable rapid prototyping, and align business leaders with IT to provide a safe and controlled environment where citizen development can flourish.
“We see three common areas where automation programs run into trouble: lack of a healthy and sustainable pipeline, delivery issues that impact ROI and ineffective production support that undermines business confidence,” said Delmedico. “Our Advisory COE helps educate and ensure customer teams use best practices that set customers on a foundation for success.”
Continued platform for growth
Cognizant has been steadily expanding its IPA practice since 2015, seeing accelerated year-over-year growth. The company sees demand for Power Platform, automation, and low-code citizen development increasing over the next decade as companies seek to improve operational efficiency, create better co-worker experiences, and control costs. “The opportunity with Power Platform is very promising. We have invested in our own COEs so that we can better support our clients in leveraging this technology for the speed, productivity, and innovation they need to achieve the outcomes they want,” concluded Delmedico.