Has Eskom broken the wrong silo?

Posted by Janice Scheckter on 11 March 2015 10:05 AM CAT

If Eskom was busting its organisational silos and working more collaboratively with its entire ecosystem, perhaps both Eskom and South Africans would be a little more ‘enlightened’?


Eskom finds itself in a world of pain with old infrastructures crumbling and new developments running very late. So one has to ask what they organisation can do, as it finds itself in this challenging position.

 To say Eskom in not collaborating with its ecosystem of stakeholders would be both unfair and uninformed. Unfair because business and industry that we spoke to confirmed that Eskom was pretty good at communicating with them and engaging them. The media desk provided the following comment.

 “We are in constant communication with all our stakeholder in relation to the current electricity system constraints. Often we call upon our customers to reduce their electricity usage in order to help us better manage the power system – in particular so that we can get the much needed maintenance done on our power station units. At times, as was the case on Sunday 2 November, we asked our customers to reduce their usage in order to protect the entire electricity grid from a total shut down. We have certainly seen many heed our call and partner with us as we do our best to avoid rotational load shedding.”

Having acknowledged that the organisation makes effort to engage business, as a business and residential consumer of electricity, I am sure Eskom could collaborate so much better. Take the 49m programme from example. Of late I have seen little other than the logo. Surely there’s an opportunity to really engage communities in this initiative?

A survey in the US in 2013 identified COLLABORATION as the hottest trend for state owned enterprises and local government in terms of working with business and individuals. This was followed closely by Customer Service and Mobile Government.

In thinking more about this topic and reading through some case studies, I came across a great example of local government and citizen collaboration.

Keeping Washingtonians moving

Washington State’s Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has won several awards for its innovative use of social media and online tools.

Given Washington State’s notoriously variable weather and frequently congested roads, there is a heavy demand for up-to-the minute information about public transport, mountain pass driving conditions, traffic alerts, road closures and practical advice (eg how to install tyre chains).  WSDOT uses a wide range of channels to provide real-time information, including email (an impressive 400,000+ subscribers), Twitter (30,000+ followers), a Youtube channel, a Flickr account and a blog.  WSDOT actively encourages Washington residents to provide feedback, including input on strategic issues like an ongoing debate regarding road tolls.

A frequent sight at bus stops across Seattle is people checking their smartphones to see how many minutes they will have to wait, using a very cool app called OneBusAway.  The app takes data made available in a re-usable format by the transit agencies in the City of Seattle and neighbouring counties.  Again, faculty and students at the University of Washington were involved in the design and development of the service.  Apparently, one of the students involved has since gone on to be recruited to work at Google.  A great example of both collaboration and job creation!

Source: European Union 2.0.

There are many examples and they seem to grow daily. What’s required is a more open policy and collaborative intent.

Janice Scheckter is MD of Indigo New Media, desparate to see a collaborative public sector and to keep the lights on. 





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