Last November 16th and 17th, Suez Group hosted our 4th Executive Value Network for Water and Waste Water at their impressive research facilities for Water and Environment in Paris: two vibrant days of intensive discussions and networking among attendees were everybody learnt on digitalization, innovation and its risks but, overall, the immense possibilities of collaboration among parties. Three major areas drove the attention of the sessions: technology to gain in operational efficiency, the path to become a Data Driven Organization and how much is needed research & innovation in the water industry to face current challenges.
Based on the expectations of attendees, agenda included slots to address the need of water companies to optimize resources in order to help the increasing needs of operational efficiencies while enabling a substantial reduction of costs thanks to the implementation of intelligent technologies. In order to illustrate this concept, Stefan Meys, pictured below, CIO of PIDPA Water company of Antwerp (Belgium) presented the experience of system conversion to S4HANA with a Greenfield approach which triggered an interesting and intense discussion on the risks and benefits of such approach. Shifting to a more technical level, Suez team presented their ML driven Asset Investment Planning tool in order to set up a decisions support platforms for dynamic asset management and Bernd Sauer, Product Owner at SAP, provided a detailed update on the current developments in the Customer Service solution, this is the S/4HANA service, focused in the utilities specific process and components integration.
Second workstream was focused in the path that companies are following, and some exploring, into becoming a data driven organization: benefits, goals, cases and how to build a business case in order to build it. As a first step, we follow the common understanding that companies need to build a Platform, this is highly flexible, open architecture, built upon key technologies which provides the IT framework to set up of the capabilities required. And for this subject there was a detailed overview on how SAP BTP (Business Technology Platform) can play such role for water companies. Following this slot we deeply entered into a case of common interest among water companies to develop such platform, this is the adoption of smart metering having a detailed product view of SAP Metering Platform on BTP for Managing Energy and Water Data in the Cloud by Michael Dobler (Product Manager, Cloud for Energy) and a real case was presented, this is the Smart Water Platform by Capgemini.
After these technical slots and discussions we complemented that line of working by providing the business point of view with the presentation by Ange Geudens (Manager Process Owner at PIDPA water company) of their experience on the implementation of Smart water metering and how the Smart Water Platform has fitted to be complemented by the presentation of Inge Opreel (CIO FARYS water company of Gent – Belgium- ) on the additional cases which can be built upon the Smart Water Platform once the smart metering data management is implemented, this is the Water Balance. Session ended with the visit to the Suez Smart Operations Centre, where Suez Group manages centrally their water and sewerage services.
And an Innovation workstream. Beyond conferences and discussions, delegates could visit the Suez International Research Centre on Water and the Environment (CIRSEE), and International Research Centre specialized in several research domains on the production of drinking water, water distribution networks, the treatment and reuse of waste water, waste recycling, the management of health and environmental risks and, not less relevant, data analysis. Guided visit at the labs offered the chance to hear directly from researchers explanations of their domain and enabled very interesting Q&A discussions.
Suez raised very high the level of the Water Value Network for Water and Waste Water event, a fantastic challenge that we are looking to beat next year!