Many companies in water treatment industry have placed digital transformation at the heart of their corporate strategy. Some of the often-publicized benefits of digital solutions include the fact that they could help to save 11.6% of a water utility’s annual spend, and they can also help water utilities improve operations at a lower cost and maximize overall benefit. However, implementing new technology and digitization can be challenging. With a high number of new technologies available on today’s market, how can you be sure to select the right technology for your business.
According to a new whitepaper ‘Accelerating the digital water utility’ released by Global Water Intelligence (GWI), together with pump company Grundfos, despite this push toward a digital revolution, many digital transformation projects fail. The following article addresses a couple of the key barriers preventing organizations from digitization. The five largest barriers are outlined below.
- It is challenging to escape digital poverty.
The utilities consulted were “wealthy in digital terms”, the whitepaper said. They had sound basic systems and staff used to delivering change. As they accumulated data and expertise, everything became easier. The reverse is also true. Those utilities without a robust digital endowment are likely to find projects more difficult and less rewarding.
- The key does not fit the lock.
Leaders complained of the mismatch between what vendors want to sell and what they want to buy. Each utility has different priorities and different systems to build on. Vendors, on the other hand, prefer to sell the same thing over and over, according to the whitepaper. That is how they make a profit. There is a compromise to be had. It only happens if the two sides devote time to talk.
- Assessment is difficult.
The leaders reported that it was difficult to make a case for their spending on digital systems. The costs and the benefits may be spread unevenly across CAPEX (capital costs) and OPEX (operational costs) and different departments. Even when a project is up and running, it is difficult to know the full costs and benefits.
Most utilities have to buy through public tenders, which does not work well for digital projects for three reasons. First, because no two vendors offer a directly comparable package with a clear price tag. Secondly, because compatibility with existing systems is often more important than price. Thirdly, because the end point of the journey is often not visible from the starting point. A total of 71% of the leaders spoken to preferred to travel with long-term partners. Evolving the procurement model to meet this need would help.
- Internal issues.
Utility leaders had to rank 13 problems that they might face in implementing digital projects. The top concerns included: Concerns about cybersecurity; staff resistance; utilities are institutionally resistant to change and lack of coordination between projects, among others.
A total of 32 water utilities participated in the survey, selected on the grounds of the maturity of their digital engagement.
This included the Hong Kong Water Supplies department from Asia, Yarra Valley Water from Australasia, Anglian Water and VCS Denmark from EMEA and DC Water and Tucson Water from North America.
You can learn more about this and similar topics at WieTec 2020 International Smart Water Forum, a two- day event being hosted by CHC Expo. The aim of the forum is to provoke discussion about widespread application of big data, artificial intelligence and IoT in water technnology.?The event is to be held from June 3 to June 5, 2020 at Shanghai Exhibition and Convention Center.