Creating Shared Value – Can Companies Solve the World’s Water Crisis?

Shared Value - Hydrology Corner Blog

It’s increasingly the case that when I’m talking to people about what AQUARIUS software ‘should’ do, I find that there are multiple motivations for what ‘should’ means. There are many different ways that value can be perceived and product development depends on this perception.

The concept of “shared value” is where companies can solve society’s problems and make profit at the same time.

Wikipedia explains that one mechanism for creating shared value is redefining productivity in the value chain. This is where “companies can improve the quality, quantity, cost and reliability of inputs and distribution while simultaneously acting as a steward for essential natural resources and drive economic and social development.”

For profound problems (e.g. fickle water suitability and/or availability) any useful solution is inherently non-trivial. Any deployment of the solution is complicated by the existence of failed, failing, partial, or obsolete systems already in place. In this context, improvement in quality, quantity, cost, and reliability of the environmental data production process is clearly a shared value proposition.

In order to be profitable the company has to be useful.

In order to convert value into revenue, value has to first be created. The true value of water solutions is in enabling stream hydrographers, hydrologists and water specialists to better protect people from water and water from people.

In order to be useful the company has to be profitable.

A profitable company has the resources to invest in continuous improvement to keep up with new and emerging technologies, techniques, and methods. A profitable company has the resources to commit to a high level of customer support. A profitable company is motivated to stay profitable by remaining accountable to its clients and stakeholders. A profitable company has the reach to normalize basic business processes.

The shared value paradigm helps to define a path forward.

One of the obvious ways of creating value is by consolidating lessons learned since the dawn of electronic records processing. There are many data processing systems that have reached end of life. A lot of thought, trial and error, and extensive user-experience have been accumulated in each system – yet they all differ, sometimes substantially, in features and performance.

With each system replacement, including the USGS ADAPS system, we get to examine which features transcend the technological limitations of the time and we continuously upgrade AQUARIUS with the most beneficial, time-tested, ideas into a modern architecture. The continuous accumulation of the best of the best ideas that have evolved independently within regions, or within agencies, creates value for all users.

The shared value paradigm guides innovation.

There are many new and exciting sensing technologies that are creating a need for new approaches to sense-making. Some of these technologies are disruptive, in the sense that they are ‘net new’ rather than an incremental refinement or replacement. Speculative investment in disruptive technology is risky business. However, investment is not speculative if a business case can be based on a foreseeable societal benefit creating shared value. Collaborative development between those seeking profit and those seeking new solutions to ‘wicked’ problems is the best way to achieve both objectives.

Wise decisions to solve the world’s water problems will be informed by accurate, reliable, timely, and relevant data. Harmful decisions will result from fault in the data production process. A focus on creating shared value is one way we can make sure we get it right.


Resources_AQUARIUS-Corporate-VideoAQUARIUS Video: Faster Analysis. Better Decisions.

Today, water monitoring professionals are under more pressure than ever before. Learn how the dedicated team of hydrologists, scientists, and software engineers at Aquatic Informatics designed AQUARIUS: the world’s leading software suite for water data management. Watch Video.

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