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Better Together: A Centralized Analytics Infrastructure for a Smarter Infrastructure

Never before have we had such easy access to so much data. The collected knowledge of the entire human race is literally at our fingertips: A tap and a swipe on the smartphone and we can find virtually anything we need to know.

But data is useless unless you do something with it: the real value comes in synthesis and analysis—and turning it into action. Businesses that can bring data together in new and interesting ways can glean valuable insight. They can spot trends, mitigate risks, and take advantage of opportunities their competitors didn’t see coming.

Centralizing Data for Better Analytics is the theme of our latest Better Together: Customer Conversations series.

In this episode we heard from Costain Group PLC, a digital infrastructure firm, and SAP Partner Keytree, now part of Deloitte, the multinational professional services company.

They worked together to create an Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre (IICC), a platform that unites data from a diverse range of construction and infrastructure projects. To get the details, we sat down with Charlie Davies, Strategic Growth Manager, Costain Group PLC, and Richard Benson, Director of Intelligent Technologies for SAP, Deloitte, for a thought leadership podcast and a LinkedIn conversation focused on the practitioner angle.

  1. For the podcast, Tamara McCleary, CEO,Thulium, talked to Charlie and Richard about the origins of the platform, the scale of the project, and how centralizing data led to a greater understanding of the multitude of factors that impact costs, timelines, and results of the UK’s infrastructure initiatives. They also touched on how technology that centralizes data empowers and engages people by providing them with a greater perspective on projects and how their role is meaningful.
  2. In the LinkedIn conversation, I talked with Charlie and Richard about the power of data as a resource, from predictive analytics to the ability to monitor performance in real time. They also discussed how the ROI from data centralization can snowball to uncover new opportunities and innovations.

Read on for a few key takeaways from these candid discussions.

Cross-Pollination Leads to Future Innovations

Charlie explains how the ability to view and share data across multiple and diverse projects is a challenge for many industries, but especially for public entities, which are more likely to have a wide variety of branches with different functions and data structures. “It’s communication across many different data silos, but also people silos,” he says. “The IICC is really unlocking those silos across the industry.”

While the focus is often on the immediate efficiencies and insights that centralization can bring, there’s also a business case for the benefits of cross-pollination and treating data as a resource. “By having this federated platform of data, pulling it from lots of different sources throughout the organization, it delivers another thing, which is opportunity,” says Richard. “That gives me a massive data corpus to go after and start to apply machine learning to and start to draw inferences out and provide, ultimately, new insights. “The IICC serves not only as a solution to current challenges around data sharing but also as a foundation for continued innovation far into the future.

Meeting the Demand for Greater Visibility and Transparency

While industries like manufacturing and finance have embraced technologies that support data centralization, others have lagged. To stay competitive, both public and private entities that engage in infrastructure activities need to uncover best practices and efficiencies that lead to greater productivity and cost savings—things the public increasingly expects and demands. “Having real-time data to understand your project performance—that’s fundamental,” says Charlie.

That ability was a key driver for their client, a government agency that ultimately must answer to taxpayers. The platform offers not only a high-level view of infrastructure projects but also goes incredibly granular: “You can drill down to a particular motorway project, within that motorway project, you can actually drill down to see individual diggers moving around the site,” says Richard. With data that specific, he points out, the impact can go beyond improvements to costs and schedules to “noise pollution, or environmental pollution beyond that, and how to minimize the negative impact.”

Data centralization and analysis also enables transparency that helps public organizations justify their budgets and use of resources. Richard gives the example of similar projects that come with very different price tags, due to factors that might not be obvious at first glance. “When two railway bridges seemingly look identical or are being built and have very different costs, being able to understand why that is and understand what’s driving that is important,” says Richard.

Ultimately, data centralization and analysis is an essential element of modern construction that becomes especially crucial when public funds are involved. By providing the ability to identify patterns and insights that lead to best practices and greater efficiencies across the range of its infrastructure projects, Costain and the partnership between SAP and Deloitte have ultimately ensured that UK taxpayers consistently get better value for their money.

Looking for more customer success stories around Centralizing Data for Smart Analytics?

  • Heidelberg University Hospital applied SAP tools to better manage bed capacity, equipment, and medical staff during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Topgolf Gold Coast leveraged its business intelligence capabilities to reduce labor costs while simultaneously improving the customer experience.

Visit sap.com/BTP to check out the podcast and the LinkedIn session for this and previous episodes.

Make sure to catch our next episode,Data, to do Good and do Well’. We’ll sit down with  FARYS and Capgemini to discuss how the right technologies can deliver benefits across the triple bottom-line: profit, people, and the planet.

With that in mind, we’ll also touch on SAP Business Technology Platform success stories from City of Zug and Parkland Health & Hospital System 

Be a Part of the Conversation

Looking for even more inspiring stories straight from SAP Business Technology Platform customers? You can check out the whole Better Together: Customer Conversations series, and more, at sap.com/BTP.

Please let me know if there are topics you’d like to hear more about in the future as well as questions you’d like to explore. And, as always, please contact us if you’d like to be a guest on a future episode.

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