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Water Leaders Chart the Digital Transformation Journey for Utilities

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The International Water Association (IWA) and global water technology company, Xylem (NYSE: XYL) today released a comprehensive white paper titled: Digital Water: Industry Leaders Chart the Transformation Journey .”

Examining how digitalisation is transforming the water sector, this important resource provides utility decision makers with actionable learnings to accelerate their adoption of digital solutions and address critical water challenges. The paper also introduces the Digital Water Adoption Curve, a valuable new tool to help utilities assess their digital maturity and map their digital future. Water thought leader and author Will Sarni, CEO, Water Foundry, served as a key author of the report.

Global water challenges, like climate change, population growth, increasing urbanisation and ageing infrastructure, continue to intensify. The latest UN data estimates that 3.6 billion people - almost half the global population - live in areas that are potentially water-scarce at least one month per year and by 2050, more than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies. Against this backdrop, water and wastewater utilities are turning to new and innovative solutions including digital technologies, to drive sustainable water management.

“At a time when global water challenges are escalating, digital solutions offer communities around the world bold, new ways to optimise, manage and conserve this most precious resource,” said Kala Vairavamoorthy, IWA Executive Director. “‘Digital Water: Industry Leaders Chart the Transformation Journey’ leverages the insights of IWA members to help utilities learn from their peers, harness the power of digital technologies and enable communities around the world to become more water-secure,” states Kala Vairavamoorthy. “Only together can we shape our water future.”

Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem, said, “The world has to think and act differently about water. There simply is no other choice. Water challenges like scarcity, affordability and resilience are placing millions of human lives at risk, endangering our environment and the global economy, and impeding social progress. These urgent threats are not some far-off problem in the future. They are upon us and growing by the day. We need step-change, and digital innovation is the answer. This paper is a call to action to water stakeholders around the globe. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to solve water and to change history – let’s seize it.”

Valuable lessons from utilities on the digital journey

“Digital Water: Industry Leaders Chart the Transformation Journey” provides valuable insights to water utilities at all stages of digitalisation. The report also shares key utility leaders’ insights in their own voices.

“The world is moving in the direction of technology,” said Richard Appiah Otoo, Chief Technology Officer, Ghana Water Company Limited, one of the nearly 40 utilities that provided input to the white paper.Ghana Water experienced a 14 percent increase in revenue after digital technologies increased water bill collection efficiency and provided customers with a mobile billing option.”

Biju George, Executive Vice President, DC Water, commented: “The digital strategy has to become a corporate strategy. It's not an option to sit there and let it happen, you have to plan for it. You have to train your employees towards that, you have to relook at every process. You have to design your systems to give you the data you need to make efficient decisions.”

“If you have any doubt, just try it,” said Claire Falzone, CEO, Nova Veolia-France. “Try small at first if you don't dare to dream big. This is just the beginning of the digital water journey and if you don't adopt digital technologies, someone else will.”

Key take-aways from the report include:

1. Build a holistic digital roadmap and a clear business strategy: Utilities must create internal consensus on how the digital journey will unfold, maintain the customer and business outcomes as focal points throughout the digitalisation process, and educate key stakeholders (consumers, politicians, shareholders, management and employees).

2. Create an innovation culture: Utility operators, IT staff, finance, technicians, executives, and others have to be the scouts for identifying new technologies. However, to drive adoption, utilities must focus on fostering an organisation-wide curiosity and competency for embracing digital innovation.

3. Leverage pilots for an agile mindset: Pilot projects offer a means to explore new technologies, build momentum, and create a more holistic understanding of their physical and financial effects on operations before committing to large-scale implementation.

4. Develop architecture for optimising data use: Developing a data warehouse, where operational data sets become available to functions such as finance, engineering and IT specialists who can use the data to optimise business processes, is critical to creating value from data and effectively digitalising utility infrastructure and connectivity.

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the white paper

The white paper “Digital Water: Industry Leaders Chart the Transformation Journey is the first of a series of publications to be developed under the IWA Digital Water Programme. Access the publication here : https://iwa-network.org/projects/digital-water-programme/.

LAUNCH

The paper is being launched during the 16th IWA Leading Edge Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies , on Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 10:45 – 11:45 BST - Pentland Auditorium, Edinburgh International Convention Center, Scotland, United Kingdom.

About the IWA Digital Water Programme

The IWA Digital Water Programme aims to act as a catalyst for innovation, knowledge and best practices around digitalisation for the water sector, provide a platform to share experiences and promote leadership in transitioning to digital water solutions, and consolidate lessons to guide the natural evolution from the ‘business as usual’ to achieving a digital water utility. For more information, please visit http://iwa-network.org/projects/digital-water-programme/

About the International Water Association

The International Water Association (IWA) is a network and an international global knowledge hub open to all water professionals and anyone committed to the future of water. With its legacy of over seventy years, it connects water professionals around the world to find solutions to global water challenges as part of a broader sustainability agenda. As a non-profit organization and with a membership in more than 130 countries, the IWA connects scientists with professionals and communities so that pioneering research offers sustainable solutions. In addition, the association promotes and supports technological innovation and best practices through international frameworks and standards. For more information, please visit www.iwa-network.org

About Xylem

Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to developing innovative technology solutions to the world’s water challenges. The Company’s products and services move, treat, analyze, monitor and return water to the environment in public utility, industrial, residential and commercial building services settings. Xylem also provides a leading portfolio of smart metering, network technologies and advanced infrastructure analytics solutions for water, electric and gas utilities. The Company’s approximately 17,000 employees bring broad applications expertise with a strong focus on identifying comprehensive, sustainable solutions. Headquartered in Rye Brook, New York, with 2018 revenue of $5.2 billion, Xylem does business in more than 150 countries through a number of market-leading product brands.

The name Xylem is derived from classical Greek and is the tissue that transports water in plants, highlighting the engineering efficiency of our water-centric business by linking it with the best water transportation of all – that which occurs in nature. For more information, please visit us at www.xylem.com.

Contact information

For more information and/or interviews please contact:
Marta Jimenez, marta.jimenez@iwahq.org, +31 631 93 40 81
Katharine Cross, katharine.cross@iwahq.org, +66 924 53 45 13
Raul Glotzbach, raul.glotzbach@iwahq.org, +31 650 63 75 93
Jenny Rider, jenny.rider@xyleminc.com + 1 914 246 7184
Olivia Dempsey, olivia.dempsey@edelman.com +353 1 678 9333

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