Managing Digital Transformation in the Deregulated Water Market

Managing Digital Transformation in the Deregulated Water Market

In a recent blog post, we argued that there would be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the deregulated non-domestic water market in England.

‘Winners’ in the post 1st April ‘open market’ will be water utilities who leverage the full potential of digital technology to drive competitive advantage in the following areas: engaging and connecting with customers; building digital operating advantage; deriving actionable insight from data; supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing; business transformation.

As water utilities face up to the challenges presented by deregulation and digital disruption, a recent article in the MITSloan Management Review provides simple but sound advice.

The article entitled ‘Meaningful Strategies for Managing Rapid Change’ identifies three don’ts and three do’s in managing successful digital transformation.

The following ‘quick fixes’ should be avoided at all cost:

  • Avoid creating a transformation office unconnected to the rest of the organisation: This will only create a silo mentality isolating digital from the rest of the business.
  • Avoid digitising processes without rethinking the organisation’s business model: As argued in a previous post on the Bridgeall blog, focusing solely on IT misses the point. Successful transformation for the digital era requires a combination of technology and organisational change. Transforming how the organisation operates is just as important as digitising processes.
    Avoid just hiring a lone “chief _____officer”: Many organisations have responded to the challenge of digital transformation by appointing a ‘Chief Digital Officer’ or similar. While this helps to prioritise digital as a key driver of future success, there is a danger of pinning responsibility for digital transformation on one individual. The reality is that transforming digitally is everyone’s responsibility.

Rather than looking for ‘quick fixes’, the article argues that there are three meaningful approaches to delivering results:

  • Actively support and reward those parts of the existing organisation who are already delivering results differently and better: This will act as a catalyst for change.
  • Adapt organisational values and goals to the changing digital world: Become nimble and adaptive. Delivering results differently and better will ultimately transform organisational cultures.
  • Champion everyone across the organisation to be positive change agents: Meaningful change happens across an organisation when everyone realises that anyone can become a change agent. You should not need ‘permission to be an agent of change.

As a key enabler of transformation, with a strong track record in software development, project planning and implementation, Bridgeall look forward to working closely with water utility clients in making digital transformation a reality in 2017.

The six bullet points presented above provide a very useful starting point. They are also relevant across most of the sectors we operate in, including the public sector with the recent launch of the UK Government’s updated transformation strategy – see UK Government Transformation Strategy 2017-2020 Published by GDS

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

In the next post in this series, we will present a framework for assessing your organisation’s readiness for digital change.