Crimson Case Studies

Microsoft Cloud Services Solutions Propel Utilities Providers into £3bn Commercial Water Market

Water Plus Utilities Microsoft Azure Partner

The Customer

Severn Trent and United Utilities have combined forces to establish Water Plus, an innovative venture in commercial water retailing, amalgamating the strengths of both entities into a unique and forward-thinking company.

The Challenge

April 2017 marked the opening of the English non-domestic water market to retail competition, presenting a significant opportunity for commercial water suppliers to vie for a share in a market estimated to be worth £3bn, with £960 million stemming from the public-sector retail segment. This development necessitated suppliers to enhance their competitive pricing and strive for superior customer service levels.

In response to this new competitive landscape, United Utilities and Severn Trent collaborated to form Water Plus, aiming to make a mark in the deregulated market. As a nascent enterprise based in Stoke-on-Trent, Water Plus was starting afresh, requiring comprehensive IT infrastructure development from the ground up, including data servers, billing systems, contact centres, and a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system to support various sales functions and foster business growth.

Crimson proposed a suite of solutions to establish a dynamic, Microsoft Cloud-based IT infrastructure, integrating marketing and relationship management capabilities.

The Strategy

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Crimson outlined a comprehensive plan for Water Plus, centred around Microsoft technologies. The proposal included a cloud-based billing system utilising Microsoft AX, with Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange for desktop and email functionalities. Additionally, a Microsoft SharePoint document library and an integrated website with Skype for Business were proposed to streamline operations.

The adoption of Dynamics 365 for the marketing and sales solution was recommended due to its superior CRM capabilities and seamless integration with the company’s website, SharePoint, and billing systems.

Crimson also offered IT as a Service (ITaaS), overseeing all aspects of IT support and management, including third-party services, IT helpdesk, infrastructure, desktop support, and database administration. Additionally, Crimson was to manage the installation of Water Plus’s telephony and VPN network.

Following acceptance of Crimson’s proposals, detailed discussions and user workshops led to the development and implementation of the solutions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 was integrated with marketing automation tool ClickDimensions, credit-scoring software Bureau Van Dijk, and PCA Predict for enhanced bank validation, facilitating swift customer onboarding.

The Return on Investment

Within just nine months, Crimson successfully implemented Water Plus’s entire IT infrastructure, enabling the launch of this ‘£900 million start-up’. This rapid deployment was made feasible through Crimson’s agile approach and the scalability of Microsoft’s Cloud technologies.

Water Plus is now a contender in the £3bn commercial water services market, serving 2.5 million UK businesses. Thanks to Crimson’s solutions, Water Plus has secured significant contracts, leading to substantial cost savings for customers.

Since inception, Water Plus has issued over one million bills, collected nearly £1bn, migrated more than 300,000 customers, and introduced a new website with enhanced self-service capabilities, all underpinned by Crimson’s technological solutions.

With ongoing support from Crimson, Water Plus is on track to become the leading commercial water services provider in terms of customer satisfaction by 2020.

Crimson has since integrated the electronic signature solution, DocuSign, into Water Plus’s procurement process, enhancing the digital experience for customers and supporting the company’s growth and retention strategies.