Some of the world’s top brands have ‘reinvented’ their businesses with help from digital experts CI&T. There’s much to learn from our work with the energy sector on how to unlock your full potential, says Chief Strategy Officer, EMEA, Ross Sleight.

The water industry has been talking about digital transformation for a long time.

But how do we, as utilities, introduce fast, effective change in the face of unique challenges? The answers lie with global digital specialists CI&T.

They have already helped many household names (including market-leaders in the UK energy sector) make the leap from legacy technology and processes to a modernised architecture, engaging front-end platforms and products that put the customer first.

CI&T are perfectly positioned to support the water sector with a step change in the design, build and deployment of technology solutions that increase efficiencies, decrease cost and deliver business impact.


Ross explains: “Water companies face challenges not seen in other sectors. They are under tough regulatory pressure to overhaul a rapidly ageing national infrastructure, while tackling growing demand, sustainability and the effects of climate change.

“Their customers are also now much more engaged about the commodity they are consuming. There may be no ‘competition’ in the traditional sense, but digital has fundamentally changed public perception of utilities.

“People face huge anxiety over cost and reliability of supply. So, all utilities need to provide a service which satisfies the regulatory framework, while meeting ever higher customer expectations in a financially viable way.”

Where do we start?

Ross says: “The starting point for digital water is creating efficiencies in time, cost, insights and data.

“CI&T enable this through applying technology, platforms and processes which have already proved extremely effective in other major sectors like energy and finance.

“And of course, an attractive digital customer experience is just as valuable as increasing efficiency and lowering costs. Customer expectations are higher than ever. It doesn’t matter what business they’re dealing with, people compare service levels to best in class experiences from any sector. For utilities, one of the first ways to resolve issues is by enabling digital self-serve wherever possible, so customers get problems resolved quickly whilst also creating those efficiencies for the business.

“It’s not just about putting the right technology in place, it’s about encouraging positive behaviour changes. Consumers have an increasingly high level of digital literacy, and they’re more open to engage. We give them the means to do so.”

Encouraging behaviour change

In the current climate, engagement is often linked to environmental concerns. Clean, readily accessible water is taken for granted, but there’s rising awareness that it is a finite resource hugely affected by climate change. This is an important opportunity to communicate the value of this precious commodity.

“Customers want to understand and influence their own behaviour, whether around energy or finance,” Ross says. “For instance, they can track energy consumption and see its cost implications straightaway. We are seeing the same attitudes develop towards water.

“Our work doesn’t just focus on putting the right technology in place, it’s about encouraging positive behaviour changes.

“Once people see how their behaviour affects usage, they change their behaviour to avoid waste or additional cost, for example in energy, switching tariffs or introducing energy efficiency measures.

“Obviously water customers can’t switch suppliers, but they’re saturated with negative news about leaks, droughts and pollution. This leads to questions about water usage and sensible steps to safeguard it. This could mean, for example, awareness of usage through metering that could lead to variable tariffs based on supply and demand.

“Digital plays a vital role in water management, whether it’s installing sensors to monitor leaks or sewage, or asking users to control their demand at certain times. And of course, real-time data helps companies make the best possible decisions for their customers at the right time.

Utilising Data

“CI&T has an incredibly advanced data science capability, specialising in creating different models including demand marketing and consumption. The water industry has a huge amount of data at its fingertips which can be used in profoundly different applications by utilising machine learning and AI.

“Once upon a time, selected data would be used to produce a few reports. Now data is front and centre of influential business decisions, and CI&T is perfectly placed to build the propositions around that.

CI&T solutions focus on:

  • Speed
  • Efficiency
  • Customer experience
  • Data sharing and collaboration

Ross explains: “Most industries guard their data closely because of competitive advantage, but this doesn’t really apply to water.

“Utilities and their customers can really benefit from data sharing and efficiencies of learning, as principles can be quickly applied across the board.

“There are always going to be those who lead the peloton and those who lag behind. Sharing data across the whole network enables best practice to filter down and improve services for everyone.”

The importance of business agility

Business agility can also be developed through digital and introducing new ways of working. Most businesses are moving away from traditional project methodologies and are introducing a more agile, collaborative and customer centred product mindset.

“Product mindsets encourages agility through focusing on a series of aligned objectives across the business and creating cross disciplinary product teams to address these objectives with the customer at the heart of the team and consistent insight and validation undertaken to ensure what is being built meets the customer’s and the businesses needs.

“You also get incredible visibility and transparency at all stages: every couple of sprints is a chance to take stock, review the digital product road map, refocus and prioritise using learnings from the customer. Agility means resources, time and money can be prioritised consistently, allowing companies to have planning rounds of months rather than years, which mitigates risk rather than leading to wasted resources.”

Making the right decisions

“Not having the end user – employees or customers – involved in conversations about change that affects them is probably the biggest pitfall we see,” says Ross. “It’s often the opinion of the highest paid person in the room that leads to the wrong things being prioritised and built for the wrong reasons.

“We also must understand that the digital journey is not a one-off investment in technology. The business case must be clear about efficiencies and growth returns because of the long-term budget commitments.

“Ultimately, it’s about investing in the right platforms at the start to enable your business to move forward efficiently. Ask yourself: what’s the cost of running legacy technology versus the cost of introducing new tech?”

There’s also no need to start from scratch on digital. A huge number of platforms are readily available, offering cost and speed-to-market advantages, plus the potential to develop and customise solutions on top of these facilitatory platforms to meet the objectives and serve the customers better.

Ross says, “We use the objective – whether customer service or data collection – to work quickly on prototypes and testing to develop minimal ‘lovable’ products. Minimal viable products may do the job but might not be brilliant for the end user! Our ‘lovable’ approach helps de-risk the whole process as we can make sure it’s the right fit for user needs from proposition to launch and beyond.

“Our role is not to run your business for you. CI&T is more like your digital sherpa that has guided customers along a rocky road many, many times before over the last 27 years, ensuring there are no risky shortcuts and navigating unforeseen obstacles.”

Want to talk to CI&T? For enquiries, contact Hannah March, Growth Partner, EMEA at