Utility Digital Twin

Digital Twin Technology Can Improve Water Utility Management

With escalating global water concerns and the increasing urgency for effective water management, water utilities must accelerate their digital transformation efforts, says global research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group in a recently published industry resource. Navigating the complex landscape of water utility operations presents numerous challenges for utility leaders, from aging infrastructure to the increased responsibility of providing safer water to communities. While digital twin technology holds significant potential benefits, the firm explains that many organizations struggle to map out a tailored digital twin journey that aligns with the unique characteristics of their ecosystem. To address this issue, the Info-Tech Research Group has released its latest blueprint, Build a Water Utility Digital Twin Roadmap. The firm’s research-backed resource will assist industry leaders in developing a strategic plan that ensures immediate benefits from implementing digital twin technology in the utility sector.

“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,” says 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 highlights the lack of actionable guidance in existing digital twin research, which leaves utility leaders without clear, actionable steps. Adding to this challenge is the absence of a robust framework to guide roadmap development that balances desired business outcomes with necessary investments. This gap underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to digital twin implementation, ensuring that water utilities can effectively manage their resources and deliver clean, safe water to their communities.

“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 firm advises the importance of considering factors such as leadership sponsorship, technology maturity, and cultural readiness when managing significant digital transformation programs. The blueprint also emphasizes the need for utility leaders to develop an effective roadmap that includes prepopulated sample data to facilitate continuous and iterative planning. By doing so, water utilities can ensure they are well-equipped to implement digital twin technology in the industry successfully, driving both immediate and long-term benefits.

In its new blueprint, Info-Tech outlines three key steps for utility leaders to consider when building a digital twins roadmap:

  1. Identify the Desired Outcome: Establish a baseline and target organizational key performance indicators to measure success. Shortlist potential use cases that align with strategic goals and can drive significant value.
  2. Prioritize Use Cases: Conduct a thorough analysis of use cases, focusing on tactical initiatives in people, process, and technology. A value readiness evaluation will help prioritize these use cases based on their potential impact and feasibility.
  3. Create a Tactical Roadmap to Close the Gap: Identify gaps in current digital twin capabilities and develop a detailed roadmap to address these gaps. This iterative approach ensures continuous improvement and alignment with evolving organizational needs.

By following the detailed guidance outlined in Info-Tech’s blueprint, water utilities can effectively navigate their digital twin journey as part of their broader digital transformation strategy. This comprehensive approach not only enhances operational efficiency and resource management but also positions water utilities at the forefront of innovation.

As global water challenges continue to escalate, the proactive adoption of digital twin technology enables utilities to drive long-term benefits and build resilience in an increasingly complex environment.

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