Being a digital water utility: looking beyond technology

Digital transformation is most powerful when it is strategic and addresses both the technological and human elements of implementation.

From virtual currency to artificial intelligence, digital is disrupting entire industries. According to the American Water Works Association 2018 State of the Water Industry Report (SOTWI), water utilities are increasing investment in technology and data mining, yet many are unconvinced about the long-term promise of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). This gap raises the question: how should the water industry prepare for a disruptive future?

It is essential for utility leaders to first gain an accurate understanding of their business needs and constraints, and then develop a business strategy with digital investments built in. Creating a digital strategy that runs parallel to a business strategy can be costly and will likely not achieve the sustainable outcomes desired by water utilities.


A good place to start is understanding what works and what doesn’t. Mining existing data is an example of something that is already proving valuable to utilities around the world.

“Water utilities in North America have an immense amount of data. Decision analytics can help utility leaders optimize their business strategy by empowering them to make decisions faster, with more confidence and supported by data. This kind of power can accelerate a utility’s ability to improve water resiliency, efficiency and quality in the short- and long-term.”       – John McCarthy, President, Water NA

Fostering a culture of innovation is another example of how water utilities can prepare for a disruptive future.

“Utilities are living, breathing ecosystems. Those that invest in building a human-centric culture of openness, experimentation, creativity and empowerment will be first to attract and retain top talent, adapt to change, create sustainable solutions that work, leverage digital for improved business performance, and, ultimately, improve quality of life.”         – Jason Carter, Innovation & Delivery Lead, Water NA

Questions about this article

Esteban Azagra

Global Leader Business Advisory - Water Ask me a question

Jason Carter

Delivery and Innovation Lead, North America Ask me a question

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