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Ofwat calls on water companies to have robust data strategy

Water companies must be ambitious in the way they use data to benefit customers, and ensure they have a robust data strategy in place, Ofwat has insisted.

The regulator said data presents “massive opportunities” for the water sector.

“The water sector is sitting on an almost universal property data set because it supplies services into almost every household and business property in the country, services that are used by literally every person in the country and go to the heart of how people live,” said Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross.

“The potential in that data to improve lives, to drive innovation, enable efficiencies and improve resilience, is huge.”

Speaking at the launch of Ofwat’s report – unlocking the value in customer data – Ross said the regulator had identified four issues which will enable companies to make the most of their data.

As well as implementing a good data strategy, companies must “be smarter” in the way they use data. To do this, they must understand and have knowledge of the data they hold.

She said accuracy and high-quality data is “essential”.

“In April when we opened the business retail market, allowing business customers to choose their water provider, companies had to do a lot of work to get their data sets up to a certain quality. More work than we expected,” she added.

“This was very concerning to us and a sign that companies may have neglected their data sets for too long. Next year, new general data protection regulations will be implemented in the UK and there are huge implications for water companies.

“Not only will they give customers more control over their data, they will raise the bar on things like consent as well as allowing us as regulator to penalise those companies who are not in compliance.”

Ross also said data security was of paramount importance. “We see that these steps towards better data management is a journey for water companies,” she said. “Good quality, well understood and secure data builds a strong foundation from which to build a data strategy.”

-This is a version of an article that first appeared on Utility Week.

Author: Lois Vallely,
Topic: Data, IT & Communications
Tags: Data , ofwat

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