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Robust decision-making, a focus on process excellence and enhancing our commitment to continuous improvement all underpin the transformed Watercare, says chief digital officer Rebecca Chenery

 

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With the strategic transformation programme now in full swing, the inner workings of our business have undergone an extraordinary overhaul this year.

Considerable effort is being directed at improving the robustness of our decision-making. We want to ensure our decisions are informed by data and insights. To enable access to this material, we are in the process of establishing a ‘data hub’ that will bring together internal and external data. Using new approaches and tools, information can be made available in digestible chunks for every employee.

In addition, the data hub will facilitate the exchange of information with external organisations and agencies such as Auckland Council, other council-controlled organisations (CCOs) and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

This shift in focus is also signalled by the creation of a new senior management role – the head of analytics and insights will reinforce the importance of data availability, quality, stewardship and governance.

To build positive customer interactions, we have begun reviewing each customer journey. By using design thinking techniques that are generally used for creative problem solving, we are exploring and articulating the experience we would like for our customers.

At the same time, the use of robotic process automation technology has helped us to automate a number of business systems that were previously managed manually. This technology has seen a significant reduction in processing times and repetitive tasks, an increase in processing volumes and improvements in accuracy.

Continuous improvement is in the DNA of our business – we strive to be ‘better tomorrow than we are today’. And, as we modernise, we are also embracing new ways of working; in particular, an agile mindset is creating opportunities for cross-business teams to work together to identify areas for improvement. This year, more than 200 people received training in Agile Fundamentals, and learned to work iteratively, to establish a minimum viable product hypothesis, test it and refine it. This new capability is a vehicle for continuous improvement.

Looking to the future, we are working to build capability that utilises artificial intelligence and machine-learning to enrich data and support advanced and predictive analytics. This form of analytics will also enable business decisions to be made in the context of not only what has happened in the past but what is likely to happen in the future as well.

In addition, we can set our sights on the establishment of a smart network and ‘digital twin’ for our assets. This will provide near-real-time data about the performance of the network and our assets.

Our transformational journey is ongoing and we look forward to delivering further improvements in our business processes, as well as increasingly responsive experiences for our customers.

"Looking to the future, we are working to build capability that utilises artificial intelligence and machine-learning to enrich data and support advanced and predictive analytics."