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Digitalisation powering global water sector, study finds

From advanced AI to ML-based data analytics platforms, the accelerated adoption of tech is transforming the global water market, reveals Frost & Sullivan

|Jan 30|magazine7 min read

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global water sector is ripe for a digital transformation, Frost & Sullivan reveals in a recent report.  

According to recent analysis Digitalisation Powering the Global Water Market, 2020, a digital transformation of the sector is likely to accelerate in light of the pandemic, which has adversely impacted the growth of the water market globally thanks to widespread supply chain disruptions and a labour shortage during lockdowns. 

While the municipal water and wastewater market has shown the highest resilience due to support packages from governments, the hydration treatment systems market has been the worst affected in the water market. 

The global water market was projected to reach US$1,014.54 billion in 2020, thereby registering a growth of 7%, but instead has witnessed a decline to US$805.31 billion in 2020, down from US$947.89 in 2019. 

AI-based platforms to help sector rebound

The report finds that smart sensors with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and ML-based data analytics platforms are already on the rise in the sector due to the fact that they require minimal maintenance or human interference. 

“The water market could witness more high-level consolidation of data analytics platforms in the water sector,” states Paul Hudson, Energy & Environment Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. 

Hudson points to narrowband Internet of Things (NB IoT) and long-term evolution for machines (LTE-M), cellular communication technologies that could become key enablers of growth penetration and digital transformation.

Accoridng to the report, smart decentralised water and wastewater treatment solutions are already disrupting the market significantly with low OPEX and holistic economic sustainability becoming key drivers that enable the growth of decentralised treatment systems.

“Value-add services and solutions such as decision and predictive intelligence, along with a smart product line and effectively leveraging ecommerce platforms could improve customer relationships and increase loyalty,” states Hudson, adding that such features “have gained precedence due to the pandemic”. 

Sector areas ripe for growth

Furthermore, the report highlights the areas of growth that leaders in the global water sector can focus on in 2021 to fuel growth. 

  1. Hydration treatment systems market In order to cater to price-conscious customers, smart hydration treatment systems and solutions’ providers could offer the filter-as-a-service business model. To enhance brand loyalty, hydration treatment systems providers could boost their product line with a value-add such as flavour and mineral packs.
  2. Municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment systems market Market participants must embrace smart operations and AI-based virtual assistance platforms as these can significantly reduce the OPEX cost of a treatment plant.
  3. Irrigation systems and solutions market Smart irrigation solution providers should invest in research and development or M&A to provide holistic smart irrigation solutions.
  4. Bottled water hydration market Leading brands are introducing recycled PET bottles to reduce plastic waste generation, while startups are experimenting with degradable plastics and paper-based bottles. Products with sustainable packaging will be in high demand.
Frost & Sullivan's report
Analysis of COVID-19 on global water sector