Thierry Grima, Group Chief Analytics Officer at Engie, outlines the extraordinary data transformation the utility giant is going through, and how the ground-breaking data connection of 170,000 global team members is driving collaboration to benefit the business


French multinational utility company ENGIE is undergoing a vital transformation – no mean feat for a vast, established business with more than 170,000 employees. Thierry Grima, Group Chief Analytics Officer, is the technology leader supporting ENGIE on a transformation journey to drive collaboration through data.

“I’m here to break the silos and help to create connection – a bridge,” he explains. “As a business, we need to unlock the value of data because it’s no longer a competitive advantage. It’s just a necessity.”

Data communities

Thierry set up a small team locally to help convey the message that data and analytics bring value. “The simple message was: ‘We won’t be able to transform if you do not rely on the local ecosystem’,” he explains. “That ecosystem supports the transformation, so changing people’s attitudes was key. Attitudes are what really change things locally, so that’s why we set up the different data communities to enhance collaboration.”

There are now three of those data communities. The first is the CDO (Chief Data Officer) community of around 30 people, the next is the Data Scientist community with approximately 300 worldwide members, and then there’s Data Friends which is composed of people interested in data who find in this community a way to get inspired with internal or external speakers showing what others do with data. Between the three groups, there are upwards of 2,000 people developing the way data is seen and promoted at ENGIE.

Meeting industry challenges

It’s not just a desire to improve the use of data at ENGIE which drives Thierry in his role, but the broader trials facing the energy industry. “We are facing huge challenges in the energy sector. ENGIE runs a utility business, historically focused on gas. The majority of the gas France uses is imported, so there is a need to pivot. We started way before the conflict in Ukraine, but we need to accelerate. It’s an interesting ongoing topic globally and a lot will happen in the next few years…

“This sector will have to change its business model, because the industry is evolving so fast with the need for decarbonisation as well as the digitalisation of our ways of working. Data is playing an instrumental role to support this transformation. It has started to change already… The decentralisation of energy production means customers can now produce their own energy which is changing the direction of our business.”

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