14 October 2016

Having spent a fair portion of this week at the International Water Association conference in Brisbane, I discussed, debated and contemplated many issues. A key issue that kept arising was the risk adverse nature of the water industry, with innovators experiencing great difficulty attempting to “break in”.

Whilst this isn’t surprising, with the responsibly to protect public health and the environment, I am not sure if it always delivers the best value for our customers.

I currently work out of a co-sharing Hub (think Google) in Sydney and am surrounded by start-ups and am watching the great impact they are having in other industries. The food and transport industries are quickly being turned on their heads.

I am seeing great changes with food delivery companies like Gastronoms and Deliveroo, whilst still experiencing what we might call “non-conformances”. The Uber turning up in the back lane with no access, or the Sherpa heading to pick up a package from Richmond and not North Sydney.  “It was a problem with the code / google maps”. This is not a reason to not to use these new technologies but must ensure we remain resilient.

There is a lot of beneficial products now starting to be embedded into the market. I have recently been working with TaKaDu, the water loss management SaaS, ConnectiX, an outsourcing & mobility management SaaS and HyrdoSun, providers of floating solar panels, for power generation and evaporation minimisation.

These and many other providers are working with organisations like my own to further understand our industry and discover how their niche products can fit in.

Many successful utilities are adopting new innovations and technologies. They understand the benefits that can be gained by their business and customers. They also understand the importance of proper resilience programs, good change leadership and proactive innovation management.

Our industry needs to move from a risk adverse culture to one that can take quickly advantage of new technologies, whilst maintaining the resilience that our communities need.

David Nixon is the Managing Director of NixonClarity, with over 30 years’ experience in the Australian Water Industry. NixonClarity provides Advisory, Strategic and Performance solutions to the industry. www.nixonclarity.com