Data analytics: Innovation under the hood

Tomorrow is Today

Big Data, which denotes the exponentially growing mountain of digital data, is becoming increasingly common. People still associate the word with something high-tech from a dark IT backroom. ”Wrongly so,” says Jo Coutuer of Deloitte. ”The opportunities offered by data are everywhere: from the maintenance department to the sales manager's iPad.“

The concept of data processing based on mathematics, algorithms and statistics is not new. However, what is new is the cocktail of the abundance of data, exponentially faster computers, and a digitising and globalising economy. This cocktail allows organisations to retrieve value from data in an unparalleled way, either through optimisation or redefinition, or by developing fundamentally new business models.

With its ‘Tomorrow is Today’ awareness campaign Deloitte wants to point out the potential of Data Analytics. ”The discussion is often restricted to the technological debate,” says Jo Coutuer, Partner and Analytics Leader at Deloitte. ”Whereas the possible impact is much broader.”

The optimisation of the operation of a company, is the most obvious application. Efficiency is achieved through a quicker creation of orderly and decision-supporting information. And Data Analytics allows this information to be visualised, making it easier to understand.

The perfect example of an optimisation is ECHO, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. ECHO does not provide direct aid, but divides and allocates about 1 billion euros every year to the projects of 170 non-governmental organisations and UN operations. The organisation has a global network of 43 offices, where experts detect the needs of the population on the spot and follow up on the ongoing projects.

Thanks to new technological developments, ECHO is able to analyse all available information of all humanitarian aid efforts. ‘‘Until recently this would have been a massive undertaking, but now we get computers to do all the work and apply analytics to our data,” says Jean-Pierre Buisseret, Head of Finance, Legal Affairs and Partner Support at ECHO.

Visual dashboard

ECHO now has a visual dashboard which shows what resources are deployed where, how many people they reach, and through which organisation. ‘The advantages are enormous: questions can be answered much quicker and in the long term it will result in a better deployment of our resources,” concludes Buisseret.

Other organisations or companies see an opportunity to reinvent themselves in what analytics has to offer. This is illustrated by ‘Predictive Asset Management’: the use of data analyses, statistical methods and artificial intelligence in network infrastructure.

Many older networks, among others gas, water and electricity, date back to the seventies or eighties and need renewing. But in these turbulent budgetary times it is not obvious to invest heavily. Network infrastructure operators need to continuously weigh the risk of defects against the costs of maintenance.

Data Analytics is able to predict defects in pipes or networks. It allows some infrastructures to remain operational for an extra 20 years.

Jeroen Vergauwe, Energy, Infrastructure and Utilities Director at Deloitte

Do more with the same resources

”Here, technology opens up new opportunities,” says Jeroen Vergauwe, Energy, Infrastructure and Utilities Director at Deloitte. Based on parameters such as the material of the pipes, the soil or the traffic intensity, Data Analytics is able to predict the chances of errors and defects. This method allows operators to make more objective decisions on investments. ”And we are able to do more with the same resources as we can keep some infrastructures operational for up to 20 years longer with a smaller risk,” says Vergauwe.

In the infrastructure management improvement process, Data Analytics also changes the role of the operators. Whereas before the end customer usually saw a person who came to fix problems, they now see a person who does regular maintenance. The result is a totally different relationship with customers. ”Although Data Analytics is therefore not obviously apparent in the operations, it can optimise them and even redefine the operator's core tasks. And in this way it can also be a competitive advantage,” declares Coutuer.

De Tijd (17/3)


Big Data Analytics, de term voor de exponentieel groeiende berg digitale gegevens, vindt steeds meer ingang. Toch associëren veel mensen het woord met iets hoogtechnologisch uit een donker IT-lokaaltje. ‘Ten onrechte’, zegt Jo Coutuer van Deloitte. ‘De mogelijkheden van data zitten overal: van de onderhoudsafdeling tot in de iPad van de salesverantwoordelijke.’

Published: 17 March 2015

L'Echo (17/3)


Les Big Data Analytics, ces énormes quantités de données numériques en croissance exponentielle, ne cessent de gagner en popularité. Pourtant, nombreux sont encore ceux qui les associent à une prouesse technologique réservée à une poignée d’informaticiens au fond d’un local obscur. « A tort », affirme Jo Coutuer (Deloitte). « Le potentiel des données peut être exploité partout : du département maintenance à l’iPad du responsable des ventes. »

Published: 17 March 2015
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