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The Latest Statistics in Business Intelligence for Water Systems

April 20, 2022
Min Read
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The latest statistics in business intelligence for water systems reveal growing trends in data gaps, a rising acceptance of digital water solutions, and financial investments. A combined focus on pursuing advanced analytics such as artificial intelligence provides a promising outlook for cost savings.  

Summary of key points covered:

Business intelligence for water systems defined

Investopedia defines business intelligence as “... the procedural and technical infrastructure that collects, stores, and analyzes the data produced by a company’s activities.” Mixpanel takes it a step further by describing business intelligence as focusing on current and past events captured in the data.  

For water utilities, business intelligence includes:

  • Organizational efficiency: Looking at issues such as gaps in utility staffing, especially when about every 8 seconds, a baby boomer reaches the retirement age of 65
  • Capital planning, reporting, and compliance: Tracking goals towards meeting compliance with a regulation; for example, using an inventory development tool to meet compliance with the Lead & Copper Rule Revisions
  • System operations and management: Measuring performance of assets to potentially identify priority upgrades

By the way, CDM Smith delivered a spectacular webinar about “Applying Business Intelligence for Data-Driven Decisions” - worth a listen.

Data gaps make the case for business intelligence software solutions

Utilities face several legacy roadblocks that, in the past, have prevented them from fully adopting business intelligence software solutions. For example, a popular misconception pushes the idea that business intelligence only makes sense for bigger organizations with larger budgets.  

But the data doesn’t lie. A recent study found that businesses lose $15 million a year due to bad quality data. The truth is that all utilities, regardless of size, collect data waiting to be harnessed in business intelligence software solutions that can help make sense of them and identify poor data quality issues.

Water utility benchmarks in digital transformation

Dodge Data & Analytics released a report helping to benchmark municipal water utilities and their current state of digital transformation. The report found that:

  • 90% of utilities cannot easily access their data, as it’s isolated in disconnected IT systems, spreadsheets or paper records
  • 45% of utilities claim that lack of data access prevents effective operations and maintenance at their organization on occasion
  • 50% of utilities believe they are gathering less than half of the data available to them
  • 80% of utilities are concerned with data quality and quantity

And that’s not all the report found.  

  • Almost 7 out of 10 utilities report that lack of visibility across stakeholders interferes with effective capital planning on occasion
  • Nearly a quarter of utilities worry about the lack of internal staff with the necessary digital skills and resistance to change

Business intelligence software solutions might just be the answer to helping water utilities achieve their fullest potential in digital transformation.  

YOU MIGHT LIKE: How the Hartford Clean Water Project Uses Digital Twin Technology

The era of the business intelligence-savvy utility has awakened

Utilities are ready to leverage business intelligence. A past Trinnex blog post discussed the rise of digital-first resiliency within the utility industry. Digital-first resiliency refers to the connecting of existing assets such as data investments and internal knowledge with digital solutions to help make smarter infrastructure decisions.  

An increase in investment trends

Investment trends point to a growing acceptance of digital-first resiliency. According to the Northeast Group, a boutique market intelligence firm reporting on the global smart infrastructure sector, US water utilities are projected to invest approximately $13.5 billion in smart infrastructure over the next 10 years. Water utilities also have a growing interest in using analytics and other Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings.

A report from Bluefield Research and SWAN shows growing budget levels, with utilities expected to shell out nearly $12 billion for digital technology by 2030. Bluefield Research also confirms the growing investment trend from a financial backing side. Digital water company formation has grown within the last 20 years, with 52.6% of identified vendors founded since 2000 and 30.5% founded since 2010.

A real gain in cost savings and more through business intelligence and analytics tools

Numerous reports show that investing in business intelligence or analytics tools provides major benefits. According to McKinsey, utilities that harness analytics see positive gains:

  • Analytics used for predicting pipe anomalies are over 50% more accurate than traditional engineering models
  • Analytics used for predictive maintenance programs results in up to 20% savings in maintenance operating expenditures and up to 30% savings in capital expenditures

A whitepaper, “Accelerating the Digital Water Utility,” released by Global Water Intelligence, Global Water Leaders Group, and Grundfos confirms the value of digital water solutions:

  • Water utilities can save up to €60 billion globally a year through digital technology and €35.4 billion in capital expenditures with wastewater collection and drainage technologies
  • As stated in the whitepaper, “11.6% of the total annual spend on digital technologies could also help meet challenges relating to new regulations, ageing networks and climate change without massive hikes in the price of water”

That’s a huge benefit in a time when rate-payers are seeing water bills rise at an average rate of 4.2% per year.  

Cost saving advantages in meeting compliance with industry regulations

Water utilities face several industry pressures or regulations, but the impending Lead & Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) compliance deadline represents a current hot button challenge. To summarize, by October 2024, all US water utilities must complete an inventory of service line materials and submit proof, if no lead service lines exist.

Determining the presence of lead traditionally involves physical inspections, ranging from $500 - $2,000 or more per property. But by leveraging artificial intelligence models for reliable service line material predictions, utilities can save 10% of total inspections needed.  

YOU MIGHT LIKE: FAQs about Using Artificial Intelligence to Determine Service Line Material

Determining whether business intelligence for water systems is right for you

The data presented here shows a promising future for business intelligence in the water industry but can seem daunting. Some utilities start by asking questions such as: “How are our systems performing?” or “Where should future investments be focused?”. If you need help in transforming hazy outlooks into clear solutions, reach out to the Trinnex team.  

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Written by
Andrea Lebron
Marketing Professional
Andrea is Trinnex’s demand generation marketer with a passion for writing about technology and digital-first resiliency.

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