The Wellington water crisis: a cautionary tale for businesses on the value of investment

by Tim Freeman, Chief Operating Officer

Wellington's current predicament is not just a tale of a city struggling with water restrictions and leaky pipes—it's a narrative that resonates with businesses worldwide.  

Wellington is experiencing the fallout from years of underinvestment in critical infrastructure, particularly its aging water network.  At the heart of the issue lie the city's aging water pipes, which, at last count, amounted to approximately 3,000 leaks scattered across the region. 

This underinvestment has led to stringent water restrictions, leaving residents frustrated and questioning the efficacy of their rate system—a system they trust to maintain and deliver uninterrupted services. The proposed solution? A staggering $1 billion annual investment over the next decade, dwarfing Wellington Water's current $56 million budget. This shortfall not only inconveniences residents but also risks tarnishing the reputations of the council and Wellington Water. 

The situation unfolding in Wellington serves as a poignant lesson for businesses. It accentuates the critical choice between investing in scalable systems, platforms, and operating models that can enhance outcomes for customers, employees, and the business—or choosing to forego such investments. 

Rationalisations against investment are common and varied: 

  • "If it isn't broken, why fix it?" 
  • "We've already invested substantially and must focus on extracting ROI." 
  • "Let's just repair what's broken instead of overhauling the system." 

However, just like the water system in Wellington, failing to act proactively poses severe challenges that can deteriorate a brand's standing, customer satisfaction, and employee morale. Persisting with outdated systems accumulates technical debt, making future shifts increasingly challenging. Moreover, the anticipated ROI often fails to materialise due to a patchwork of workarounds that create a fragmented customer experience. 

Inaction can put any business on the back foot, gradually chipping away at its competitive edge—particularly as various economic factors come into play. Eventually, modernisation ceases to be a choice and becomes a necessity. The real question is: will this modernisation be a proactive choice or a reactive necessity? 

At LEVO, we understand the weight of this decision. We specialise in assisting businesses on their transformation journey. Whether you're facing leaking pipes or leaking profits, the principles remain the same: invest in the future, modernise proactively, and stay ahead of the curve. Don't wait for a crisis to dictate your next move. We’re here to help. 

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