The advantage that Big Data offers an enterprise is so significant that strategic advisors in data-driven business innovation, NewVantage Partners, recently found that organisations are investing in Big Data out of fear – the fear that if they don’t, their business will be comprehensively disrupted by their competitors.
When fear of missing out by failing to invest in a new technology is a greater driver for investment than the benefits it offers a business, it is obvious the technology has become core to the operation of a healthy enterprise. “[Big] Data is the bedrock of digital transformation or business digitisation,” NTT DATA Business Solutions, Innovation Lead and Practice Manager – Analytics, Dimitri Zarganakis, said.
“In order to remain competitive, organisations have to consider digitisation of existing processes to introduce new levels of efficiency or competitiveness in an aggressive marketplace.”
Fear can lead organisations to make mistakes, particularly if they are overly hasty with their Big Data investments. Zarganakis said: “One of the biggest challenges hindering proper Big Data adoption is the lack of a clear understanding of its usage. This has led to many failed attempts to implement platforms [like Data Lakes] with no apparent clear purpose for doing so.”
However, those organisations that make the right investment in Big Data stand to realise big gains, as energy and resources organisation, SIMEC, discovered in partnering with NTT DATA.
From acquisition to efficiency in just months
International alliance of businesses, GFG Alliance, of which SIMEC Mining is a part, acquired a mine located in Tahmoor from Glencore in 2018. The acquisition offered strong synergies to the company, as other businesses within the GFC Alliance were already purchasing coal from the mine for use in steelmaking. As such, the acquisition would bring the entire process under the one banner.
The Tahmoor operation is significant, employing 340 people and producing two million tonnes of coal per year. SIMEC Mining needed to quickly get the IT platforms across both companies aligned.
“The transition of service agreement [TSA] with Glencore was only around six months,” SIMEC Mining Whyalla IT manager, Kenith Gee, said. “We had a lot of applications to take over in that time.
“The cut over to SAP system, especially, needed to happen quickly, as the Tahmoor operation is an underground coal mine and it was due to start a long move from one section of the mine to another about three-quarters of the way through the TSA. This takes about three weeks and there was a strong need to have a SAP system available because while that’s happening there is a lot of activity but the business isn’t making any money. We needed to make sure the SAP systems were ready so we didn't disturb the actual operation or the planning around it. That was quite a challenge.”
In addition, because of the geographical distances between operations (SIMEC Mining Whyalla being located in South Australia), the organisation decided to move to a Microsoft Azure-based Cloud environment to boost the efficiency of operation. Gee said the miner relied heavily on NTT DATA’s expertise in SAP, Mergers and Acquisitions and Azure Cloud migration.
NTT DATA has worked with many mining companies, including both SIMEC Mining and Glencore, in the past. That familiarity with the industry and each organisation was a key touchstone in SIMEC‘s decision to engage with NTT DATA, he said.
Its ability to not only roll out SAP solutions but also leverage the technology to achieve Big Data capabilities into the future was also vital as SIMEC Mining looked at this engagement as the start of a transformation exercise across the company.
“NTT DATA was instrumental in helping us understand what decisions we needed to take up to the steering group that was helping with the overall change as well as implementing some of the changes we asked for,” Gee said.
Leveraging SAP S/4 HANA to competitive advantage
Once the transition had occurred, and the Tahmoor mine was operating on the same platform as other business units, the next step was to leverage technology – particularly data – to improve outcomes.
“We are running a legacy SAP system at Tahmoor that we inherited and we are also, in effect, running a legacy system in our existing iron ore business, so we do feel a pressing need to drag the business IT forward,” Gee said. “We had identified the need to start to adopt more industry 4.0 tools.
“With SAP S/4HANA we will have a great platform to leverage data that will allow us to understand how we can be a better and more nimble company. The iron ore and coal markets is quite an interesting business to be in at the moment. With prices being very volatile, and the grade/quality needs of our customers changing as well, we need to have a better approach to data.
“People are very good at collecting data, but we aren’t as good as we could be at using the data effectively.”
There are many reasons why SAP S/4HANA is considered a leading solution to data challenges within organisations. They include:
- It offers simplification – By harnessing the HANA in-memory databases, organisations are able to eliminate aggregate tables, reduce processing time and produce quicker responses to transactions and queries.
- It’s easy to use – A common challenge with data projects is being able to make use of the result. SAP S/4HANA allows for easy access to overview pages, work lists, and list reports, as well as quickly and responsively produce personalised reports.
- Better performance – SAP S/4HANA works well with live data, which is critical in taking full advantage of Big Data applications. It’s also fully compatible with the cloud, which is an essential benefit for the increasingly disperse and agile business.
While SAP S/4HANA will form the core of a digitally transformed business, examples such as such as SIMEC Mining show that organisations need a partner like NTT DATA to articulate the value of SAP S/4HANA, assist with discovering and developing the realistic Industry 4.0 solutions that use SAP S/4HANA as the basis, while introducing complimentary technologies such as Big Data, AI and ML, Cloud, Mobility and Robotic Process Automation, and lead the change management campaign within the organisation.
As NTT DATA’s Zarganakis said “NTT DATA has developed a highly consumable roadmap for adopting Big Data and other technology enablers into organisations at various stages of maturity. Informed by our experience over many years with data-related projects, we have incorporated our learnings on the most effective way to bring Big Data [and associated advanced analytics] into a customer organisation in a manner that adds incremental value but also builds in a sustainable way – we call this our Big Data and Analytics Pathway.
“Key to our success in being able to engage with our customers is that we adopt a simple ‘see it, touch it, feel it’ approach to showing them the art of the possible with Big Data. Through demonstrable examples of Big Data in action in various uses cases in different industry sectors, we help our customers develop the value adding use cases [utilising Big Data] necessary to develop their roadmaps.”
Why NTT DATA Business Solutions?
All of our customers, no matter how large or small, benefit from our Customer for Life promise, delivering a tier 1 experience without the overhead or cost associated with partnering with a global services company. NTT DATA Business Solutions (NTT DATA) is part of the NTT Group headquartered in Tokyo, operated in over 1,000 locations in over 72 countries. The NTT Group is recognised as the fifth largest IT services company. We put emphasis on long-term commitment and combine global reach and local intimacy to provide premier professional services from consulting, system development to business IT outsourcing. NTT DATA applies innovation to differentiate everything we do.
“NTT DATA is leading the way in Industry 4.0 technologies such as, Big Data, AI & ML, Robotics Process Automation, IoT, Cloud and mobility innovation with a global $2B R&D investment and 5,500 dedicated R&D professionals. Reaping the benefits of these emerging technologies is difficult, there is no playbook. What we do, simply is take our learnings from our R&D investment and use the knowledge, IP and outcomes to accelerate our clients industry 4.0 journey. Using a collaborative partnership approach, we focus on business outcomes through the industrialisation of these enabling technologies, leveraging proven methods for faster solution delivery.” Jon Carroll, NTT DATA Business Solutions, National Microsoft Partner Manager.
For more information on how SAP S/4HANA can benefit your organisation, click here.