With only three weeks to go until the business water retail market opens to competition, is the industry ready for deregulation?

As reported by Utility Week, final approval has just been provided by the UK government confirming that the competitive water retail market for business, charities and public sector customers in England will open as planned on 1 April 2017.

The new market will be under intense scrutiny from government, regulators and consumer groups. In an environment where the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is proposing to collect complaints data from new water retailers on a monthly basis, variations in preparedness will be exposed very quickly. There will be no hiding place in the open market.

There will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the deregulated non-domestic water market in England.

‘Winners’ will be water utilities who leverage the full potential of digital technology to drive competitive advantage in at least five key areas: engaging and connecting with customers; building digital operating advantage; deriving actionable insight from data; supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing; business transformation.

As the industry prepares for radical change, water company staff should assess their digital readiness for a more competitive marketplace by addressing the following questions:

  • Engage and Connect: How good is the overall customer experience with your organisation, especially at Key Moments of Truth? Does your current billing system provide accurate mistake-free customer invoices? Do you have a well-developed customer portal delivering high value content, interactivity and functionality to different customer groups?
  • Digital Operating Advantage: Are you leveraging the full potential of digital technology for streamlining internal processes and systems, maximising efficiency and costs savings? How good is your Settlement Validation System? Do you have an efficient and effective Revenue Protection System in place? Do you have an efficient and effective Market Integration Solution in place?
  • Actionable Insights: What progress have you made in deriving actionable insight from the wealth of operational data being generated, including predictive maintenance from Internet of Things (IoT)? To what extent do your employees have access to modern, visual-based, self-service Business Intelligence Software or are your BI needs still centrally controlled by IT?
  • Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Is your organisation leveraging the full potential of digital technology for supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing, internally and externally with business partners?
  • Transformation: What progress have you made in becoming an agile, fast moving, data driven organisation? How effectively are you using the cloud to facilitate business transformation?

With strong evidence emerging that ‘leading digital’ companies outperform others, we will find out very soon who is prepared.

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