Interview with Chema Nebot, Business Development Director at GoAigua
Question: GoAigua was presented approximately one year ago. Can you tell us about its evolution since then?
Answer: Although it is true that GoAigua was presented one year ago through iAgua, the reference point to analyse its evolution would start much earlier. The reason is that GoAigua is the result of the technological transformation of the Global Omnium Group since 2006.
From this last year, I would highlight our consolidation in those markets where we had previously a presence, such as Latin America or the Middle East, with new projects. In addition, in those regions we have strengthened a relationship of trust with our clients.
Since we launched GoAigua we have participated in many international events, and we have talked with many companies involved in integrated water cycle management. This helped us learn in detail about the different realities of the sector, its needs and challenges for the coming years. It has been essential to define the objectives of GoAigua for the future.
In general, it has been a year of consolidation, learning and growth. We are very happy with the results, which would not have been possible without the joint effort of the entire team, to which we add new talent every month.
For a product like GoAigua it is very important to have solutions with a short-term outcome to pay back the investment
Q: What does GoAigua's technology consist of, and what are its applications?
A: GoAigua is not a technology, but different technological solutions that we can integrate into a single management point. Through the years we have seen different solutions being introduced in the market, which have resulted in what we now know as Smart Water Technologies. They work in isolation to provide answers to specific issues, without offering an integrated vision. This is the limitation we address with GoAigua.
To reach this point we had to overcome different challenges along the way, although I would highlight two of them. On one hand, it is necessary to have experience with integrated water cycle management. In this regard, we count on the know-how of Global Omnium as a leading company founded in 1890 and with a team of professionals known internationally. On the other hand, it is paramount to have the appropriate technology. We already have 13 years of experience in digital transformation, and our team includes experts in big data, artificial intelligence, massive sensorisation, etc.
Another very important point is how we got here. The road to digitalisation is not easy: it is not just about buying technology; company processes also need to change. Moreover, depending on the region, the degree of maturity of the technology or the investment capacity differs widely. We offer a digital transformation journey adapted to our clients' pace and characteristics.
Q: What would you say makes this technology stand out from other similar ones in the market?
A: As I was saying before, our main asset is our experience, both regarding the water industry and the technology. Since we come from a company involved in integrated water cycle management, over the past few years we have tried different solutions in the market, and reached the conclusion that not all of them met our expectations. However, the ones we developed internally had very good results. This is because they were designed, implemented and calibrated jointly with the engineers responsible for their use during daily operations.
In terms of technology, GoAigua is a modular and open system. The solution can be installed on any platform and can integrate the solutions that the client already has in place. Our objective is not to replace what is already there, but to adapt to the reality of each utility. As well, we are agnostic in terms of communication systems and suppliers, and that allows us to be present in any market, and to advise clients on this type of investments, which we know are delicate and costly. This way, we help to increase efficiency, define the investments necessary, and maximise performance. We cover the whole water cycle: billing, management of work orders, and operation and maintenance of networks and plants.
Finally, I think the fact that we integrate multiple solutions into a single, centralised management point, is key. Many companies already consider that their management is efficient because they apply a broad range of technological solutions, but when they try to pull them together is becomes very costly and difficult. We say that because it happened to us, and we had to undo a number of things.
The road to digitalisation is not easy: it is not just about buying technology; company processes also need to change.
Q: What milestones would you highlight in this first year?
A: I would highlight the company's consolidation. Technologies irrupt strongly in the market, and sometimes it is complicated for clients to make sense of it all. Therefore, establishing a road map with them to continue their digital transformation process is essential for us. For a product like GoAigua it is very important to have solutions with a short-term outcome to pay back the investment, measure results and see improvement. Thanks to our collaboration in more and more projects we interact with new agents and thus become a technological partner for utilities.
Furthermore, in this first year we learned in further detail about sector dynamics at the international level. Over the past few months there has been growing social awareness of the importance of water as a resource. At GoAigua we vouch for more efficient management that is closer to the citizen, so we feel very much attuned with this growing concern. Remote reading plays a very important role here, because it enables improving communication channels with citizens and keeping them abreast of their consumption, any leaks, or water quality, among other things.
To give some international examples, we worked on a project to integrate the billing system of Ecuador's Public Water Company (EPA) and turnover increased by 500%; the Hamad Airport (Qatar) reduced leaks by 60%, and the city of Valencia saved more than 4 million m3 in just one year thanks to the detection of leaks and fraud.