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Six key considerations for water companies launching a smart meter programme, and how Capgemini can help

Iain Fry
Feb 26, 2024

AMP8 is already shaping up to be the largest investment in infrastructure by the UK water sector. With over 10 million smart water meters scheduled for installation, competition for the best teams and resources is going to be fierce. Couple that with a penalty-linked incentive regime for missed smart meter installations and the war for resources will be costly. 

Being prepared to take a multi-vendor approach throughout the full life of your programme will help you ensure a successful delivery, across meters, network and installers. A multi-vendor approach requires partners to be appropriately incentivised to your business outcomes; it’s important to align ways of working, processes, and systems. Strong contract and programme management, clear KPIs and robust risk and governance approaches will be key to success.

Here, Iain Fry, Industry Adviser at Capgemini, explains key considerations when launching a smart meter programme, and details how Capgemini supports clients on the journey.

1. Create the right eco-system of partners early to secure long term, effective, and reliable partnerships.

In trying to create and manage the right partner ecosystem for a smart meter programme – i.e. meter suppliers, installation partners, communications and network providers, and integrators – companies can find themselves distracted from the real, long-term business objectives of smart meters.

Capgemini brings together an ecosystem of partners, providing overall programme management, along with technology services, data and analytics, and integration capabilities. This model includes a scope agreed ahead, well-managed dependencies, aligned delivery teams, a single point of contact, and robust quality assurance.

2. Expect a near-term and long-term view of time horizons.

Busy focusing on establishing the right set of partners, ensuring supply chains are in place, and creating the right operating model to get meters in the ground, connected, and transmitting data, it’s easy to put data value to one side. However, understanding how future data could be exploited is key in creating those initial operating environments and technologies.

Since 2007, Capgemini has successfully delivered over 100 smart meter roll out programmes internationally, supporting customers and clients to deliver and deploy over 170 million smart meters. With this deep expertise, we help clients set up the initial ‘phase 1’ of a smart meter programme with the right structures and a clear understanding around the future ‘phase 2’ organisational value of smart meter data.

3. Don’t underestimate the volume, complexities, and dependencies of the various data entities.

In a past CIO role at a UK water company, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of data coming back from the smart meters we had just rolled out. They were recording accurately (part one of the puzzle), but we experienced challenges with data flows because of bottlenecks and architectural challenges that we needed to overcome.

As a trusted technology partner, Capgemini’s data teams can provide architecture, hyperscaler support, native tool and platform engineering capabilities to make sense of the otherwise overwhelming influx of complex data sets coming from smart meters.

4. Data augmentation will be critical to the success of creating real insights into both consumption and network performance.

Throughout a smart meter programme, it’s crucial to manage different types of data and augment it with other systems and sources to get a richer picture of what smart meters are telling you. By applying business rules to validate raw data and alarms, we make sure triggers go beyond operational use, have business impact, and are maximally relevant to customers. Based on these validated business triggers, you can set up an effective and layered communication strategy to increase the impact at customer side. With machine learning we can refine data models, enabling us to predict and identify anomalous patterns, allowing for more pro-active communication and rectification before seeing an impact at customer side (e.g. before billing or visualisation in client portal).

5. Plan exploitation of data ahead to deliver early.

You’re collecting accurate data, you’re getting it to flow where it needs to flow, and you’re augmenting it with key systems and solutions. So, what are you going to use it for? Where is its value further down the line?

Cambridge Consultants, part of Capgemini Invent, has a wealth of Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) and Machine Learning capability designed to unlock further opportunities for creating business value from smart meter data. Gen AI has increasing capabilities to bring efficiencies in multiple areas, including smart meter network design and deployment, field services management, and customer data interpretation. Gen AI will also support development of new customer offerings, increasing time to market for utilities.

6. Behavioural change around consumption and usage isn’t easy.

With rising water scarcity in the UK, influencing customer behaviour and reducing consumption is vital, and needed on a greater scale than ever before. Consumption is often driven by price point and as water isn’t a comparatively expensive commodity, it’s hard to convince people to take less of it. One of the industry’s biggest challenges is how to influence people to really think about their water consumption.

Initial inroads will likely come in the form of reducing customer-side leakage; using smart meter data to highlight leakage after the meter or wastage through leaky ‘loos’ or dripping taps. Nobody wants to pay for something they’re not actually using.

The other part of the equation is how to influence conscious usage behaviours. Smart meter data can support associated education, awareness, and customer engagement campaigns, bringing water usage to life and presenting it in a way that’s easy to understand and aligns with opportunities to proactively reduce consumption.

Typically, we should reach beyond our current customer base to engage with our future customers – tapping into a more environmentally-aware consciousness by engaging with schools and colleges to ensure water wise messaging is integrated into curriculums and classroom debate.

The customer strategy and experience team at frog, part of Capgemini Invent, brings a wealth of experience in exploiting data sets like smarter meter data, integrating it into other channels, supporting clients to run behavioural change campaigns, and public engagement. They understand the value and richness of this data in creating real life analogies that underpin water efficiency messaging.

Get in touch

With deep expertise in the water sector, and driving benefits from smart meter programmes, Capgemini is your business and technology partner for smart meters – from designing smart meter strategies, to advising on how to use data in a smarter way.

For a solid understanding of our expertise in the area, explore some of our key resources (including the ultimate guide to smart meter programme implementation and our best client success stories) over on our dedicated smart meter page.

Iain Fry

Industry Adviser
Iain is an Industry Advisor in our Energy Transition and Utilities business advising across a number of strategic digital initiatives, including the overarching Smart Programme. Currently, this has a specific focus on the UK Water Sector given Iain’s previous senior positions at Anglian Water. Most recently, Iain held the position of CIO at Anglian Water and sat on its Management Board responsible for IT, OT and Digital initiatives across the business. Iain brings a wealth of experience in regulatory businesses, having worked across energy before joining the Water Sector and has an in-depth understanding of how technology functions must evolve into value centres that shape the future operating models of our next generation utilities.