There’s a lot of buzz these days around the Digital Transformation of “this” and the Digital transformation of “that” – but what does it actually mean in practice, and specifically for the Water Sector?
Simply put, the Water Sector has been living in a state of re-action as it pertains to quality, sustainability and transparency. As a consequence, there are critical factors putting enormous burden on the Water Sector. Some of these factors include:
- Regulatory Change
- Aging Infrastructure
- Emerging Contaminants
- Retiring Workforce
- Water Loss
- Sustainability (both quantity of water and operational efficiency)
- Consumer Transparency
The number of critical factors the Water Sector in particular is struggling with is unparalleled compared to other industries. And, in order to begin solving for some of these critical issues facing the sector, it will take financial resources, people resources, and smart partnerships with innovations in the private sector to truly shift the reactive to proactive paradigm.
This is where the Digital Water Transformation becomes critical to the success of the sector. Over the last two decades, an enormous amount of digital innovation has been happening outside of the Water Sector. This innovation is made possible by the foundation of the Internet (1985-1999) and the revolution of “The Cloud” and Software Applications powered by the Cloud (2000-2015).
As a result we have companies such as Salesforce, Amazon and even Facebook – that have become woven into how we operate businesses and our own personal lives. Think about it…just a decade ago, only a fraction (less than 30%) of US adults owned a smartphone. Fast forward to 2019, the majority (greater than 80%) of adults not only OWN a smartphone but rely on this device to perform essential life activities such as: online banking, work, research, scheduling and grocery shopping.*
Exactly how devices and cloud applications have changed our personal and professional lives, the same parallel can be drawn with the Digital Water Transformation. Software code and cloud-based business applications that were created and have matured over the last two decades are enabling companies such as 120Water to exist. Examples include: modern communication software such as email and text, robust analytics and dashboard software and cellular sensor technologies that allow data to feed into any modern cloud application.
Practically speaking for the Water Sector: regulators, utilities, commercial and industry will need take a step back and holistically evaluate programs across all functions and the existing data, applications and processes that are used to execute.
As more modern, integrated technologies are adopted in the water industry, various outcomes are possible. Sustainability will be possible – sustainability of infrastructure (more visibility and predictive abilities of infrastructure needs across the system), of operations (efficiency and lowering the cost of execution), and of people (applying modern digital applications to mange execution of work as the workforce retires at a staggering pace). These outcomes combine to mitigate risk because operations are able to better manage, measure and track all that needs to be captured to ensure compliance and efficiency – taking part in that aforementioned shift from reactive to proactive.
This domino effect of the adoption of the Digital Water Transformation will lead to more funding and, finally, improved public health outcomes – the ultimate goal of everyone in the water sector.