Trends shaping the Water Utility industry
- By 2030, under an average economic growth scenario and if no efficiency gains are assumed, global water requirements would grow by a full 40% above current accessible, reliable supply.
- With nearly two-thirds of the world’s population estimated to live in water stressed areas by 2025, utilities are focusing on the efficient production, supply, use, and reuse of limited water resources. This is being achieved through the rehabilitation of aging assets, advancements in treatment technology, decentralized solutions, and smart solutions.
- Challenges from COVID-19 have placed additional pressures on sustaining business operations with 75% of utilities in a survey indicating that “Absenteeism and the Continuity of Operations” was their number-one challenge, with 46% rating field operations as their number 2 challenge.
- Digital technologies will play a key role not only in addressing pandemic-related challenges but also in driving significant economic and environmental improvements. Every water utility CIO we have spoken with said they expected to use digital technologies in key areas of day-to-day operations by 2024.
For water utilities, digital initiatives tend to revolve around optimization, enhancing customer experience, improving operational efficiency, uplifting field force experience, digitizing manual workplace functions, and improving infrastructure.
Challenges driving disruption in the market
All Australian water utilities are government owned with a regulated funding model that drives preapproved budgets. So, their income is fixed while costs are steadily increasing.
There is pressure on CDOs and CIOs to operate efficiently with much lower or similar budgets. Customer expectations are increasing; CDOs and CIOs need to be in line with expectations around sustainability, conservation, emissions and minimal environmental impact.
Meanwhile advances in technology such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), IoT, Data and Analytics and Cloud. present an opportunity to shift gears from a reactive traditional utility model to become proactive digital utilities e.g. drive predictive asset maintenance, customer self-service, bill shock prevention, real time water quality monitoring, etc.
Digital capabilities high performance utilities are building to address these challenges
Current trends have driven water utilities to invest in building a set of digital capabilities. These capabilities are helping them to mitigate key challenges that they’re facing and to enable a series of use cases that provide tangible business benefits.
For example, worker tracking is being used to drive improvements in workers safety through fatigue detection or productivity metrics derived from the variances between planned and actual work locations. Asset analytics is being leveraged to move from proactive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Water utilities are leveraging a set of digitally enabled Capablities to Mitigate these Challenges and capture benefits from emerging Trends