Digital Metering in the Water Sector State of Play Report – 4 Key Takeaways

What’s the status of digital metering in Australia and New Zealand’s Water Sector? Find a summary of key takeaways from research conducted by Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) and Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), curated by SNAPI.

The study, published in October 2022 was designed to assess the maturity of digitisation across water services providers. The scope of research covers 30 water services providers in regional and metro Australia and New Zealand. Analysis and commentary of findings was provided by Dr Ian Monks.

Takeaway #1: Digital Metering will be Driven by Several Market Factors

Dr Ian Monks has observed:

“Government’s commitment to climate change action targets, labour shortages, rising inflation and interest on borrowing, increased consumer expectations in a digital world and personal interest in contributions to climate change provide a fertile ground for digital metering implementation.”

Dr Ian Monks. IWN & WSAA Digital Metering State of Play Report Summary, Oct 2022.

Takeaway #2: Digital Metering Strategies Exist with Almost Half of Water Providers

At 43%, almost half of those surveyed indicated they have a digitisation strategy.

The status of these strategies, however, is relatively immature at most organisations. The study finds only 10% have completed research, testing and procurement to have implemented more than 50% of their fleet with digital metering solutions.

A graph depicting the status of digital metering strategies across the ANZ Water Sector.
Progress with Digital Strategies in the Water Sector

Despite 63% finding respondents willing to share their strategy with their working group, Monks found opportunities for collaboration under-utilised.

“Innovative approaches to manage project costs such as leasing meters, creating innovative approaches to manage project costs such as leasing meters, creating buying groups and minimalist implementations were not evident in this study,” he said.

Takeaway #3: Negative Perceptions Toward The Tech is Creating Friction

Low uptake and motivation for digitisation may be due to negative perceptions toward the industry and tech. Monk, identified several concerns, including fear of “feature creep” which could add to meter costs.

“Most organisations feel the technology is a focus, rather than the business and consumer benefits,” said Monk. 

Indeed, the study found that customers were pushing for digitisation. Water customers are the most common driver for the organisation’s digital implementation.

Drivers of digitisation and resourcing levels at water service providers- ANZ.
Water customers are pushing for change.

“Many organisations consider digital metering technology to be immature, despite digital metering being used for 20+ years,” said Monk. As such, he found many organisations in a continuous loop of tech assessment.

“Some organisations consider vested interests among some organisations also acting as vendors corrupted the exchange of ideas and experiences” without having installed in volumes themselves.

Takeaway #4: Roadblocks Continue, Despite Executive Support

Most organisations in the study enjoyed executive support and had a digital metering champion in the business.

Digital champions underpin the success of any digital transformation project, bringing additional resources, brain-power, reduced administration and change management tactics to the table.

Despite this, the primary roadblock for those surveyed was gaining a business case for digitisation.

The 4 Most Common Digitisation Roadblocks Reported by Water Service Providers 2022

With all the documented benefits attributable to digital metering – including research by Dr Ian Monks himself – we have to ask if it’s the difference having a business case, or presenting it to executives so that it does become a priority, that is the real roadblock here.

For more on business cases that help you to justify your pitch for digitisation, take a look at our Benefits and User Cases.

In the meantime, here’s the full report from IWN and WSAA.

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