Technology doesn’t sell itself

Digital water technologies are here to stay and will only increase in adoption. The digital transformation of the water sector was taking off before the pandemic, yet this unprecedented event has been a trend accelerator.

However, now more than ever, it is too easy to fall in love with innovations and believe that the technology will “sell itself”.

As full disclosure, personally I am very bullish on digital water technologies. I have a tendency to fall in love with technologies first and then double back and ask the important questions regarding the business model, team and strategy. While improving, this remains a work in progress! The major challenge the utility and industrial sectors face when adopting new technologies is centred on the ability of the workforce to capture the full value of digital technology. To accept moving past the status quo, it requires a culture of the enterprise.

People and processes; not technology

Adopting digital technologies requires a clear alignment with business strategy, leadership commitment and ensuring the workforce has the capabilities, training and agility needed.

There are multiple examples where digital technologies were not adopted or failed to deliver their full value to the customer for the reasons cited above.

One of the best sources of research and insights on digital transformation is The Technology Fallacy. I often cite this book as a must-read to understand how utilities and the private sector can embrace digital transformation.

“Organisations need to understand their digital DNA to stop doing digital and start being digital.”

The book lays out why an organisation's response to digital disruption should focus on people and processes and not necessarily on technology. Based on my experience, the most important conclusions from the research include:

  1. Digital disruption is primarily about people, and that effective digital transformation involves changes to organisational dynamics and how work gets done

  2. Every organisation needs to understand its “digital DNA” in order to stop “doing digital” and start “being digital.”

Building absorptive capacity

Other key takeaways from digitally mature organisations are provided below, based on my interview with book co-author, friend and former Deloitte colleague, Jonathan Copulsky.