Beyond a solutions provider

Managing Director Brian Krishna helms Xylem Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). He looks back at 2023 and the achievements of Xylem, as they move beyond being a solutions provider.

Managing Director Brian Krishna helms Xylem Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). He looks back at 2023 and the achievements of Xylem, as they move beyond being a solutions provider.

Brian Krishna has been with Xylem ANZ for nearly 20 years, becoming the Managing Director in early 2021. He found himself in the water industry via the agriculture and irrigation sectors.

“That sector was a great background for learning and understanding water requirements,” Krishna said. “It’s still the most water-intensive industry in Australia and taught me a lot about the design of water and irrigation systems. I think the biggest thing I learned was about water quality and scarcity.”

His experience in this industry set him up for his movement into Xylem. The focus on water quality and scarcity meant that Krishna could look at issues across the water industry for urban, regional, and rural water users.

“Water quality is paramount because it’s essential for crop growth and livestock farming,” he said. “Water scarcity is really about managing water efficiently. Urban society does not think about scarcity as much as those in rural and regional Australia. For decades, they have grown up with limited freshwater resources and the need to conserve water.”

Adaptation in 2023

In looking back over 2023, Krishna believes that Xylem ANZ was ahead of the curve when it comes to the changes and trends that have appeared throughout the year.

“Digital transformation was part of our journey before 2023,” he said. “If I look back further, I think the pandemic period forced us to rethink things at Xylem. The shift to remote and flexible work has been a big part of how we’ve adapted.”

Xylem ANZ operates a hybrid work model, with staff in the office three days a week. Krishna pointed out that this is for more than just office staff. It has been extended to all staff, including the operational team.

“We’ve been able to develop a flexible arrangement to have an earlier finish on Fridays,” Krishna said. “It’s all about thinking of the whole team and workforce. We must think more carefully about how to train new staff virtually and face to face.”

One of the other aspects that has impacted almost every business is its supply chain. Supply chain resilience is one area where Krishna and the rest of the Xylem group have been forced to adapt to the new normal.

“As a company, we have had to adapt our sourcing strategies,” he said, “That includes diversifying suppliers and, where possible, using digital tools to provide us better visibility throughout the supply chain. Many of our factories are in Europe, the United States, and China. We are heavily reliant on the supply from overseas factories, as well as freight and lead time issues. Xylem continues that work to strive to deliver better to our customers.”

Challenges of a solutions provider

Being ready for the challenges ahead is something that Krishna takes in his stride. He acknowledged that the economy is getting more challenging for people, and it is impacting Xylem.

“Adaptation and resilience to the market and the economy over the last 18 months mean that we have to keep adjusting,” Krishna said. “It might be customer preferences or external challenges, but we need to be willing to adapt. We need to be resilient in mitigating any risks that may present themselves to Xylem, our customers, and the entire water industry.”

Innovation brings with it new challenges, and that includes existing business models. Krishna spoke about the challenges of the supply chain.

“Supply chain optimisation is a huge issue for us,” he said. “I think we’ve reduced vulnerabilities by being more aware of our supply chain.”

Many companies have complained about the challenges of finding the right talent, and Xylem is not alone in dealing with this. The low unemployment rate for skilled labour makes recruitment challenging.

“We’re trying to find a lot of talent to fit into our services and rental businesses,” said Krishna. “I really appreciate all of our staff, as many are covering for roles, and it is taking longer to fill those positions.”

Despite the challenges, he believes that Xylem ANZ has become a more competitive company and a company of choice.

Success at Xylem

Collaboration is fundamental to the work Xylem does, and it’s a couple of collaborative projects where Krishna believes that the company had the most success in 2023. The first is a research partnership between Xylem ANZ and the University of Queensland (UQ).

“Together, we developed a new product called Computer Vision Stream Gauging, or CVSG,” he said. “One of the challenges in the future is going to be precisely measuring water. This will be critical in an era of climate change and population growth. The partnership with UQ resulted in a device incorporating three-dimensional computer vision, machine learning, cloud analytics and artificial intelligence to deliver precise water height, velocity, and flow measurements. This technology can empower water and resource managers to understand the risks and how to deal with them, particularly during disasters.”

This technology goes beyond routine monitoring of waterways. It dives into understanding a range of issues that might impact the watercourse, including pollution. Krishna believes this technology is a testament to Xylem’s commitment to the water industry and its dedication to sustainable water management.

The other project is the global partnership with the Spanish water cycle management firm Idrica. This collaboration resulted in new technology being launched around the world called GoAigua. It is combined with Xylem’s Vue, a portfolio of digital solutions.

Xylem Vue, powered by GoAigua, is an integrated software and analytics plan,” said Krishna. “It simplifies digital adoption for water utilities. The best thing is that it makes all solutions within a utility interoperable, so it’s system and hardware-agnostic. Companies do not need to have Xylem hardware for this platform to work. It’s already been deployed to over 300 water utilities around the world. Xylem Vue, powered by GoAigua, continues to be a strong tool enabling our customers to optimise their operations and solve water challenges.”

Looking into 2024 as a solutions provider

Krishna believes the future is bright for Xylem ANZ and the Xylem Group. The acquisition of Evoqua, a global treatment technology company, gives him a positive outlook heading into 2024. With more staff added to the personnel that make up Xylem globally, there is enormous potential for Xylem ANZ to play a crucial role in the Australian and New Zealand water space.

“I think there are huge opportunities for Xylem ANZ,” he said. “I hope that we stay resilient as a community, and I believe that the water industry can continue to support each other during these tough times.”

While some might be concerned about changing regulations, Krishna is not one of them. He believes in the role of utilities in working with government.

“I believe that many of our utilities and industry bodies are great advisors to government regulators,” he said. “I think it is imperative that we become a more sustainable water industry and we continue to be excellent strategic advisors to regulators and government.”

Technology also provides openings for Xylem and the water industry as a whole. Krishna is remaining upbeat as technological changes help the industry.

“Firstly, technological innovations give us a competitive advantage and help us transform as a company. It also means we can continue to help customers solve problems out in the field. I look forward to new technology being embraced by the industry, and we continue to look at technology as a way forward for the water industry.”

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