The Key Challenges facing the Future of Water
The Operational Challenge
Every day, across England and Wales, 50 million consumers receive quality drinking water, sanitation, and drainage services. We wake up, we go to the tap and expect clean water; we go to the toilet and expect sewage disposal. But even though we take it for granted, getting it right is a lot harder than it seems and with it comes a whole host of operational challenges.
To name a few, water scarcity and environmental issues caused by population growth and climate change, and greater absenteeism caused by the pandemic. In many ways these challenges are getting harder and harder to overcome as time goes by. All the while customer expectations are rising. Consumers expect effective water supply 100% of the time. Any less is completely unacceptable in their eyes. In fact, looking back over the last few weeks and the effects of the recent winter storms, it’s so unusual when an issue occurs that it reaches the national news.
The Regulatory Pressures
But the operational challenge is not the only key challenge the future of water faces, it also faces increasing regulatory scrutiny.
In 1989 the water and sewerage industry was privatised and today these services are provided by 32 privately-owned companies across England and Wales. Clean, reliable water and wastewater services are essential to our way of life and it is vital that a regulatory framework is in place to ensure each and every customer has full trust and confidence in the services provided to them.
This regulatory framework has been put in place for 3 key reasons:
The Environment: The quality and geographical scarcity of water and the impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
Service to Customers: Clean and reliable water supply to customers.
Customer Bills: Supplying an affordable service.
In any ordinary free market, rising costs would simply be passed onto the consumer. However, in the water sector rising environmental standards and customer expectations are continually putting the squeeze on water retailers, but regulations don’t allow them to simply pass this on to customer bills. They must find other solutions. This is ultimately what regulation is all about, it’s about encouraging service providers to think further outside of the box to find new ways of delivering positive outcomes for customers.
How to overcome these key challenges in the future?
These are quite unique challenges, and few sectors are going to be faced with more difficult circumstances.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that water companies have to find ways to operate more efficiently in order to provide better service at a lower cost. In my view, core to achieving significant movement in this area will be through the use of technology and the act of going digital.
This trend is very much on the way and currently sees more and more investment into building digital capabilities through using the Internet of Things to monitor water quality in real-time, and using intelligent self-service capabilities powered by data analytics to provide better customer service. There is a huge amount of opportunity available in these areas and those that harness the benefits of these emerging trends sooner have the potential to significantly outperform their competitors.
Crossfuze and ServiceNow have been helping organisations across the utilities sector beat the digital rush with a lot of emphasis put on transforming IT and Customer service delivery. Currently, many organisations in the water sector are using multiple, disparate manual tools which is creating a very disconnected experience for employees and customers alike. Consolidating these services onto the ServiceNow platform has given them a single source of truth for their data and allowed them to create automated digital workflows. This has significantly improved service efficiency, and with it, drastically reduced costs by reducing reliance on third-party support contracts and subscription fees to multiple legacy systems. Eliminating the burden of manual processes has empowered the workforce to focus on providing more personalised service to their customers.
The result is better service to their customers but also better agility in the face of a constantly shifting regulatory landscape. If you would be interested in discussing with us how we have supported similar businesses to you develop a future-proof digital transformation programme, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or to me personally at email@example.com.