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Data analytics is helping the British Army save lives and money
A new centre of excellence, jointly delivered by Deloitte and the British Army, is using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to enable the Army to harness the power of its data.
Set up in April 2018 and based at its headquarters in Andover, the facility draws on skills from across the firm, from Risk Advisory to Supply Chain, as well as civil service experts and Army personnel. It’s driving a range of projects, with one supply chain initiative having a significant impact on both budgets and lives.
Often the vanguard of UK support during worldwide disasters, the Army wanted greater control over its supply chain and global inventory to accelerate response times in emergency situations. And as a public-funded body, it was keen to ease the burden on squeezed budgets.
The multi-billion pound inventory had previously been managed separately by 614 units without a mechanism to centrally monitor and manage supply activity. It contained excess, and sometimes obsolete, stock and there were delays in processing requests.
Experts from Consulting and Risk Advisory created a visual dashboard that sat on top of the disparate systems, then established new governance to support it. This enabled the Army to understand what the inventory contained, where it was held, the cost implications and how best to move it.
Supply Chain Manager Zain Arora said, “We’ve used everything to do with analytics to help the client, from data visualisation to predictive analytics. But it hasn’t just been about developing a great dashboard, we’ve also looked at the people and procedures involved.”
“One thing I’m really proud of is that the Army now has control over and understands how to use its data,” said Consulting Director Justin Siglow, who served in the US military before joining Deloitte. “We didn’t want this to be an ivory tower initiative; we wanted to give the individual soldier and units a voice and involve them.”
The project was expanded to look at transport and movements, not just in the UK, but how stock is moved globally by road, sea, air and rail to become an all-encompassing support chain control tower. The benefits are now recognised across the military, with the RAF and Royal Navy following the Army’s lead and developing their own analytics capabilities.
“The Army has a lot of latent value in its data, which they are using to better understand its resources and its people.”
Our work with the Army isn’t just about managing assets – another project has helped to gauge motivation levels among its people. Using AI to analyse anonymised data from 11,000 employee survey responses, we’ve been able to determine how people feel about everything from food to travel and promotion opportunities.
The centre of excellence’s work has strengthened our partnership with the Army and is resulting in more accurate, more informed decisions. The financial benefits of the supply chain work alone – more than £100 million and rising – prove the power of analytics, but it’s also having a direct impact on lives.
Zain concluded, “The reason we’ve been working with the Army for so long is that it’s very much a collaboration. And in an increasingly constrained environment with fewer resources, it’s allowing our client to maintain its presence as one of the global leaders in military capability.”
“We have an exciting future for the Army, exploiting the data revolution and driving real benefits into a wide range of Army Projects and of course to supporting our decision makers on operations.”