Digital transformation, defined as the process by which a company implements digital technology to obtain a competitive advantage, is becoming increasingly necessary in addition to being highly effective. It is based on four technological megatrends: mobility, the social network universe, the Cloud, and Big Data, which are the levers driving change.
However, in the Big Data society, in which the volume of data generated is expected to reach 181 zettabytes by 2025, i.e., an increase of +887% compared to 2015, there is a problem that causes the digital transformation process to stagnate: information silos in water utilities.
The digital transformation process applied to water utilities is divided into seven steps: installing sensors on assets, system and data integration, data visualization, subsequent analysis, data-driven process optimization and, finally, the deployment of operational intelligence. The amount and complexity of the data used and the need to transform it into information grows as we move along this path.
Therefore, as we advance along our digital journey, a solid, robust data structure is required to underpin this need. In this sense, Manuel Parra, Vice President Strategic Partnerships and Alliances of Xylem Inc, stated that "one of the cornerstones for successful digital transformation is to have a highly solid data structure that generates and provides valid, timely, high-quality information to the user. Traditionally, this has not been easy to solve".
The source of the problem
The origin of these silos lies mainly in the traditional "technology acquisition" model that water utilities have followed. This model has focused on solving problems for specific groups or departments within the company, and therefore the need to share data has been secondary or non-existent.
In contrast, more and more companies are adopting a digital transformation model in which data becomes an asset available to the entire company and the ability to share it to generate relevant information at all levels of the company is a critical factor when evaluating the acquisition of any new digital technology.
Along these lines, Jorge Helmbrecht, Business Development Director at Idrica, pointed out that although this traditional model of sequentially acquiring technology to solve problems as they arise (bottom-up) has provided companies with a good basic infrastructure, this network is made up of disconnected systems and technologies, which does not address the needs that are generated when evolving towards a planned transformation that responds to a roadmap (top-down).