Water goes back to the cloud with WaterNSW transformation

The 'three cloud strategy' will see WaterNSW adopt Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, and Office 365.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Microsoft Australia will deploy a "three cloud strategy" with WaterNSW, seeing the state-owned entity adopt Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, and Office 365.

The New South Wales-owned corporation will be using the cloud services across procurement, enterprise asset management, finance, payroll, HR systems, and invoicing and billing, via a single system.

WaterNSW oversees NSW's rivers and water supply systems and supplies two thirds of water used in NSW. It owns and operates the largest surface and groundwater monitoring network in the southern hemisphere, and builds, maintains, and operates essential infrastructure.

See also: Microsoft Office 365: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Chief information officer Ian Robinson said the transformation is also changing the way WaterNSW personnel operate in the field, allowing them to collect data in real time, through the use of Dynamics 365 Field Service.

"Let me give you a real example: A worker who is in the field getting allocated work orders from the Dynamics 365 solution operates in Office 365 to understand the safety dimensions, the work instructions, how he does his job, and communicates with people back in the office and some of the nuances around that," Robinson said.

WaterNSW currently has a single system using integrated data across multiple processes which Robinson said significantly simplifies business processes and the management of corporate data.

Robinson said the organisation is also looking to a future where Microsoft's mixed reality capabilities are used, with HoloLens technology deployed to have instructions or drawings, for example, overlaid on what the worker sees in the field.

"Bringing the eyes and ears of the experts to the guy with the tool -- this increasing integration between the three clouds is I think what we're seeing," Robinson continued.

See also: Microsoft Azure: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Skype for Business will also be supporting inter-office communications including meetings with remote teams; SharePoint has been used to set up an internal procurement portal and manage content on the intranet; and Teams is also being used by WaterNSW.

With Azure hosting a now unified data collection, and Power BI deployed for analytics, Microsoft said WaterNSW is also able to optimise the management and maintenance of assets.

According to the tech giant, WaterNSW is also transforming its day to day operations. One such task is taking daily measurements at dams, which in many cases are then linked to telemetry readings.

Using Azure machine learning tools, WaterNSW has been able to apply algorithms to the data collection to analyse and interpret what is going on at a dam to support engineers manage assets.

"We use Dynamics 365 to drive the work for the field worker, we have telemetry systems that capture data and then we use Azure analytics tools to calculate what is the likely health of that dam and then project forward the potential scenarios and risk that we've got on that dam. And that, I think, is the first time that has been done in Australia," Robinson said.

WaterNSW is also moving to an Agile delivery model, making use of micro services particularly in analytics, Robinson said.

The organisation is currently adding analytics capability to budgeting and finance to allow it to model various scenarios, such as cost reduction. It is also modelling procurement strategy, and performance and workforce planning.

"From an IT professional's point of view, [the overall transformation] allows me to take my hands off the control levers of managing infrastructure and software support and versions -- the kind of mechanics of IT -- and focus on real business value," Robinson said. "And that's why people adopt the cloud because it allows them to just assume all that will run."


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