Sydney Water opens 'customer hub' to 1m users

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Sydney Water opens 'customer hub' to 1m users

Data-driven approach.

Sydney Water is using a new data-driven ‘customer hub’ to manage water delivery in real-time to more than a million customers in Sydney’s west.

The utility first revealed its customer hub strategy back in June, which it said would be launched as a “live sandpit” in western Sydney in September.

It has not previously revealed the scale of that launch but has now confirmed that the hub - a kind of “intelligent customer operations centre” - is now running and serving more than one million customers.

The idea for the customer hub is to shift Sydney Water from an asset-focused view to a customer-focused view of its operations.

To do this, it will make better use of its “rich” data reserves and create an “enhanced two-way” channel of communication and engagement with its customers.

“The organisation is rich with data and [with] greater opportunity to discover business insights and customer knowledge,” Sydney Water said.

Through the customer hub, it is applying “near real-time analytics on existing data sources - spanning customer, asset management, ERP, networks and plant data - to identify and prioritise the actions that matter most, both in terms of customer services as well as cost” to the utility.

The aim is to be “intelligent, predictive, preventative and proactive”, Sydney Water said.

It is hoping the customer hub will enable its frontline workers to recognise and rectify potential issues before they become an actual problem for customers.

The hub is also designed to provide proactive customer notification "with real-time information" to inform customers of any water-related issues that may impact them.

The project is ambitious but relatively new: it only gained executive approval back in March, and while the company is expecting big results, at this point they remain projections.

Sydney Water is aiming for a 3-5 percent uplift in customer satisfaction and a similar saving in its operating expenses.

The latter would be the equivalent of between $8m and $16m in savings a year.

A team of 29 internal staff set the technical foundations for the hub.

“There was a combination of configuration, integration and remediation changes as well as bespoke development work,” the utility said, noting that the hub draws upon a wide range of existing and new enterprise data stores.

The customer hub falls broadly under the auspices of Sydney Water’s 'lifestream' corporate strategy.

“Lifestream is the corporate vision for the organisation to be the ‘life stream’ of Sydney for decades to come,” customer and business experience platforms executive Paul Freeman told iTnews back in June.

“Within that our corporate strategy runs around three pillars: customer centricity, high performing culture and [becoming] a world class performer.

“That implies a significant range of capability uplifts across our organisation at a people, process, technology and data level that have to be executed.”

This project has been named a finalist in the industrial category of the iTnews Benchmark Awards 2017/18. The full list of finalists can be found here.

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