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Report: Global water utilities urged to fast-track digital transformation amid rising challenges

  • Report: Global water utilities urged to fast-track digital transformation amid rising challenges
  • Info-Tech Research Group advocates Digital Twin technology for enhanced water management.

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In response to escalating global water concerns and the pressing need for effective water management, water utilities must expedite their digital transformation efforts, asserts a new report by global research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group. The recently published industry resource addresses the multifaceted challenges faced by utility leaders, including ageing infrastructure and the growing mandate to ensure safer water for communities.

The report highlights the potential benefits of digital twin technology, while acknowledging the difficulties many organizations face in aligning this innovation with their specific operational ecosystems. To aid in this transition, Info-Tech has introduced its latest blueprint, "Build a Water Utility Digital Twin Roadmap," designed to help industry leaders craft strategic plans that yield immediate advantages from digital twin implementations.

"Digital twin technology has long been a prominent topic in water utility industry conferences and utility working groups worldwide. While its potential benefits are enticing to water utility leaders, the roadmap to actualizing this goal often remains unclear," explains Jing Wu, principal research director at Info-Tech Research Group. "Digital twin is far from a binary concept. It cannot simply be purchased off the shelf and developed overnight. Rather, it represents a journey of continuous learning and development across multiple capabilities within the digital twin domain."

Info-Tech's research underscores the shortage of practical guidance in existing literature on digital twins, leaving utility leaders without clear, actionable steps. Additionally, the lack of a robust framework for balancing business outcomes with necessary investments further complicates roadmap development. This gap highlights the necessity for a comprehensive strategy to effectively manage resources and deliver safe, clean water.

"Most water utilities have made recent progress in deploying elements toward achieving an ideal digital twin target state. However, what often remains lacking is a holistic view of the digital journey. Each water organization's business drivers vary, and consequently, so does its digital twin journey," explains Wu. "The starting point in this journey can vary depending on factors like leadership sponsorship, technology maturity, and cultural readiness for managing significant digital transformation programs. Regardless of the chosen approach, it is critical for water utility thought leaders to maintain a focus on the bigger picture while planning their journey, even if the pathways diverge."

The blueprint emphasizes the importance of leadership support, technology maturity, and cultural readiness in managing digital transformations. It also advocates for a roadmap that includes sample data to support continuous and iterative planning, ensuring utilities are well-prepared for successful digital twin technology implementation.

Info-Tech's blueprint outlines three critical steps for utility leaders:

  • Identify the Desired Outcome: Establish key performance indicators to measure success and shortlist use cases that align with strategic goals and deliver significant value.
  • Prioritize Use Cases: Analyze use cases focusing on tactical initiatives in people, process, and technology, and evaluate them based on their potential impact and feasibility.
  • Create a Tactical Roadmap: Identify gaps in current digital twin capabilities and develop a roadmap to address these gaps, ensuring continuous improvement and alignment with evolving needs.

By following these guidelines, Info-Tech believes water utilities can effectively navigate their digital twin journey within their broader digital transformation strategies, enhancing operational efficiency and resource management. This proactive approach not only drives long-term benefits but also builds resilience in an increasingly complex global environment.

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