December 2015 BI Connect Event

4 December and I’m attending a business intelligence event at Rolls Royce, Derby


I’ve taken the opportunity to step outside of academia to learn from the commercial sector about how they are developing and benefiting from business intelligence and analytics organised by @biconnect #biconnect

Programme and overview agenda
First up; BI on a budget, Alec Anderson, www.koolmill.acom

Koolmill manufacture machinery for cereal crop industry aiming to delver more food at a higher quality reducing environmental impact and reducing processing losses. They are a disruptive technology – small turnover at the moment. Reports a global aim to increase rice production by 75% by 2030.
So on with the BI – how do Koolmill interact with their customers?
‘the data outside the business is more valuable than the data inside the business’. But what data is appropriate for your needs – is there value in purchasing data? Generally payment upfront is required before an answer to this can be achieved. One wanders whether there’s an opportunity for ‘try before you buy’. At Jisc we’ve developed a controlled environment for data and analytics R&D and have secured our first data sharing agreement to allow just that.
Koolmill harvest trending data related to their business from internet searches and target influential individuals via Twitter to highlight how their products can help achieve wide felt goals. Intelligent customer interaction by social media analytics – analyse what they are trying to achieve, undertake targeted and individual marketing. This is a very manual process relying heavily on the presenter.

Roy Haworth, Head of engineering and software development, Airbus
Airbus launched a satellite yesterday heading for the zero gravity point above the planet to prove an Einstein theory – by deploying a piece of gold and monitoring expo cited lack of movement at this point Einstein will be proved (if not then assume the mission has made a mistake and that Einstein is still right!)
Airbus also built the satellite that deployed the Rosetta comet lander. Airbus are not high volume, 3 satellites is a big deal. The business sis all about deploying cutting edge technology.
So on with the BI – how do Airbus interact with their customers?
Started with focusing the question – what does value mean to the customer? Came up with a customer value cycle; obtain feedback, analyse the needs and commitment to change, implement the changes, measure the improvements. Note that Airbus have around 100 customers worldwide with a turnover of billions. So are far from typical. Feedback was gathered F2F. KPIs apportioned and scored. Customer confidence vs Mean importance to customer plot showed the order of KPI importance to customers (highest was quality – nothing goes wrong for 15 years) but momentum (direction of travel) indicated direction of travel (where confidence was getting worse) allowing prioritisation for change and resulting actions.

Andy Birtwistle, supply chain manager, Concentra
Kicked off by highlighting where BI has come from (what happened, why did it happen) and where it’s going (where are we headed) – predictive analytics and ‘prescriptive analytics’ (integrated demand sensing???)
Is analytics appearing in the real world? 81% agree that data should be at the heart of decision making but only 31% have restructured to do this. People mix up BI KPI reporting with predictive analytics integrated with decision making.


Andy described supply chain decision making integrated with predictive analytics. Clever use of analytics to show people their impact on the supply chain – example given of incentivising sales team inflated prediction on sales resulting in manufacturing over production and excessive stock storage. Andy showed visualisations to explain this behaviour. Helps people to see what policies are needed to produce efficiency in the supply chain. The importance of matching visualisation design to end user was highlighted – high level briefings for senior managers so give them high level dashboards. Interestingly accessing accurate data was not seen as a problem, audience anecdote did not concur. Much discussion about end users screwing with data for their own purposes / to look good.

Steve Whittle, Head of BI, Rolls Royce – BI past, present, future
RR – 54K staff, 72Bn back orders, civil, defence, marine, power, nuclear. Aiming to take 6 million people through STEM.
Interesting PPT with overview of BI past (KPI driven historical), present (introduces ghost Bi – end users using their own tools vs being active co-designers of corporate service), much about vendor promises and upgrade paths, single source of truth. Interesting mapping to our BI maturity model (webinar here), recent changes – transaction or transaction meta data; the information surrounding the transactions has more worth than the transactions themselves. Also a nod to apps and mobile for wider access.

Allan Behrens, MD, Taxal Ltd The greater Internet of things (IoT)
Talk about practical solutions of immediate value through connected products and systems via (open) interoperability standards. Two examples given – the Amazon Dash (device that re-orders washing powder when running low), an automated lawn sprinkler system.The aim is to create a better customer experience. Open standards are key to development. Dyson hand dryer – add an LCD screen, connect it to an advert server, provide the hardware free, profit comes from advertising revenue. Bottom line message – the barrier to entry is low see th manufacturers thought leadership network – a talking shop toward products as services.

Anthony Batts, IT manager, Tata Steel Using BI and Big Data
No Big data in this one, rather it was a dance through a BI implementation including a BICC – BI Competency Centre. Key lessons here were around user inclusion on service design. These are both features we identified in highly mature BI implementations. See the 9 dimensions and 5 levels from our BI maturity model The hope is to make Tata a data management organisation – so data governance and processes to sort out that old thorny issue of data management. Our UK and US survey of Universities with reported low maturity on the data management dimension. Seems this is mirrored in the commercial sector. Antony recommended the data management body of knowledge

Duncan MacMillan, IT Director, Berendsen Internet of things, big data and the cloud
Berendsen offer massive volume, low profit per unit laundry services to a vast number of hotels worldwide. The innovation is to RF tag sheets and towels. The BI tracks stock (losses and stock piling) allowing efficiency gains across the business.

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