Interview with Francesc Suero, CIO at Aigües de Barcelona
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Position and company: CIO in Aigües de Barcelona
Date of birth: 6/19/1972
Marital status Married. Children: two
Sports practiced: paddle tennis, skiing and golf
Hobbies: sports, traveling and a good meal in good company
Studies: Senior Telecommunications Engineer. PDG at IESE
Seniority in the company: 14 years
Previous Jobs: PwC, IBM
Francesc Suero, CIO at Aigües de Barcelona
What does the main part of the company’s IT budget go to?
Those projects with a clear objective of digitization/transformation are the ones that are occupying most of the investment and these mainly attack 3 areas:
- Transformation of the Customer Service Model.
- Digitization/centralization of all operations.
- Creation of a corporate Data Hub.
Which project are you most satisfied with?
To speak of a recent one, an analysis that we have recently carried out regarding the impact of the pandemic on water consumption in Barcelona. It has been the example to see that we had all the data and we simply had to know how to manage it to extract the information. This analysis, using consumption data from the last 3 years, has allowed us to see changes in consumption habits or directly see the impact on water consumption due to the drop in tourism, the closure of leisure activities or restrictions on restaurants, among others. .
And it has also been very educational to show the power of data management in the organization!
Is security an issue?
I wouldn’t define it as a problem, but it is true that IT can no longer be understood without talking about security.
The problem is that cybercrime has become a big business that is also evolving at a fast pace and this forces us to be constantly updated.
In addition, in our case, we are forced to multiply efforts due to the fact of managing critical infrastructures and a lot of sensitive information.
Can you work from home?
Without a doubt, and this has been demonstrated in the last 2 years. This does not mean that in certain projects/contexts face-to-face work may be necessary or more efficient.
And in any case, face-to-face presence provides a plus in terms of team cohesion that cannot be replaced, but all this does not question remote work, in fact, in my opinion, both complement each other and it is about finding the right mix of the 2 (remote/face-to-face) depending on the type of work/context.
What main trends do you observe in the ICT world?
For me, fundamentally the move to the cloud, and once we talk about the cloud, a wide range of possibilities opens up.
Many of us undertook the journey years ago, but we still have a long way to go and for this reason this migration to the cloud (in any of its forms) continues to be one of the main trends.
Under no circumstances on your mobile can you miss…
Whatsapp and Google maps, without a doubt.
What is the tool that really changed your life?
For me it is the sum of several: Internet on the mobile, a before and after!
Tired of solving the technological problems of family and friends? What do they usually ask for?
Of everything… but I get along well, I just like not only to solve them but also to take advantage and do a bit of pedagogy of why they fail, how to solve them, we go the same as at work, to see if one day the friends/users self cater.
What about extracting the value of the data, will it really mean the evolution of companies like yours?
In our case, it will undoubtedly have a great impact, in fact, it is already making us evolve and approach many processes differently. We must bear in mind that we handle large volumes of both customer data and all the iot deployed in our water network and to which we will now soon add 100% of our park of telemetered meters, and without a doubt all this data is here they must give us more and more information to improve our management!
What is this digital transformation? Slogan or need?
Both of them. We can’t all be Spotify or Airbnb. And here comes the problem, because of a real need in which each one must define what their particular transformation should be, using the context and the endless tools that we have at our disposal, many have simply stuck with the slogan. Transformation must have an objective and cannot be reduced to transforming for the sake of transforming without knowing why.
Is the R+D+i thing an urban legend?
No, we have many examples where these initiatives have ended up in solutions that we have already industrialized and although this innovation does not end up taking off, it always leaves good learning. And in fact, it’s critical to have a separate innovation lane from anything that is “day-to-day IT”.
In the cloud or on-premise?
In the cloud without a doubt, for many reasons, but mainly because I find it difficult to see any for which on-premise currently represents an advantage. In fact, a few years ago what played against the cloud was its lack of knowledge, but today in many areas we could say that it is almost a commodity.
Is the lack of technological knowledge of customers and employees the main challenge?
No, in my opinion we are not bad. In fact, this digitization that our customers ask of us helps us to take steps faster and to the extent that everything is digitized and everything changes, we are also becoming more and more technological internally. We cannot pretend that overnight all our employees know everything about technology, but in the end this technology is entering more and more every day in all the work of our employees, so it is impossible to escape. Just be patient!
What technologies help most to manage the water cycle?
There are many, but to differentiate some that are specific to a utility or to the management of the water cycle, I would say:
- Everything that has to do with IOT to have eyes on our entire network and at all points in the cycle.
- All the digitization of our physical assets (plants, networks, meters…).
- Remote reading with all that it implies (meters, telecommunications, information processing).
- Business Intelligence and AI for the management of all information.
Can you save water with the use of technology?
Yes, and in fact we are already achieving them. Without technology it would be impossible to provide a good service in terms of quality or cost.
Just 3 examples:
- The IOT network with all the monitoring that allows us to see what is happening in all our network elements and the automation that acts intelligently.
- Leakage or overconsumption warnings in real time thanks to remote reading that allow minimizing losses in the event of any incident.
- Analysis (BI) of the performance of the water network to detect losses.