Friday 02 Jun 2023
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This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on November 28, 2022 - December 4, 2022

The digital age has ushered in unprecedented amounts of data upon which organisations increasingly rely to make smart business decisions. 

According to one estimate by Statista, the amount of data created, captured, copied and consumed globally will balloon to 181 zettabytes (1 zettabyte is one trillion gigabytes) by 2025, which means the need for increasing storage capacity will continue to rise. And although each internet user generates an average of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, not all data is created equal. Within the business context, in particular, it is the quality of data, not the quantity, that counts.

Sifting through mountains of information based on manual tasks and Excel spreadsheets is not only tedious, it also tends to be error-prone and time-consuming. Digital solutions provide automated workflow processes for organisations to relieve them of the burden of data management so that they can focus on more strategic and value-added tasks. No matter the industry, organisations are summoning their resources to invest in digitisation in droves. The reason for it is clear. It has to do with efficiency, effectiveness and laser-like precision.

According to McKinsey, data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain them, and 19 times more likely to be profitable as a result. 

Profitability stems from confident decision-making, which can be achieved only when enterprise-wide planning is continuous and collaborative. One unified planning platform means every stakeholder is working from the same, access-controlled, data source and able to see patterns faster and make better decisions. In other words, access to real-time data translates into real-time insights. Decision-makers can feel confident they are informed, and better-informed decisions lead to better business performance.

The current global energy crisis arising from the war in Ukraine is one example of the urgency to equip organisations with efficient, concise decision-making powers to pivot and adapt at a moment’s notice. As was evident in March 2021, when one of the world’s largest freight ships — named Ever Given — log-jammed global commerce by getting stuck for six days in the Suez Canal, the global economic system is a fragile one. One clogged cog in the wheel can make the entire house of cards tumble.

Given this fragility, every organisation that embraces nimble processes will help streamline the global economy’s internal machinations. One example from the energy industry illustrates the power of systemised planning and better control through digitalisation.

Shelf Drilling Ltd is a leading contractor of jack-up rigs that has its headquarters in Dubai and operations across four main operating regions: Southeast Asia, India, West Africa and Middle East, North Africa and Mediterranean. The company focuses on shallow water drilling services and operates 30 rigs across eight countries, with 12 onshore locations and about 3,100 employees and contractors. In other words, the company generates mountains of data every day.

Although the rigs are connected to headquarters via satellite, the low bandwidth of satellite connections required an integrated planning system that could replicate data offline that would also run in the background.

While the various rigs have an interconnected satellite system, the challenge that the company faced was its inability to access real-time financial and operational data. Instead of having a uniform system, each rig manager worked off his own Excel spread sheet for planning purposes. 

Because of its commitment to sustainable operations, the company also sought to reduce emissions by tracking the engine hours and fuel consumption across its fleet of rigs. Before they switched to an automated, digital solution, the individual teams were required to manually capture the data using Excel. 

As a result, data consolidation at month’s end was very time-consuming. The company wanted easy access to more “real-time” insights for efficiently tracking and managing the fuel consumption and assisting the rig teams in achieving its sustainability goals. Shelf Drilling adopted the Jedox enterprise performance management (EPM) solution for its flexibility, along with the ability to visualise planning and operational data through dashboards and reports. 

Another important factor was the ease of adoption in integrating the solution within its Excel user interface. The company had already adopted a compatible enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as well as various business intelligence tools, so it could quickly integrate the selected EPM system with its existing technology infrastructure to maintain a consistent, always up-to-date, single source of financial and operational data. The familiarity of the system also made it easier for end-users to adopt immediately.

A main advantage of the EPM system was the ability for all the rigs to collaborate and contribute to planning models through an offline, batched operation. The flexibility that the digital solution offers in this regard is of great importance for the usability on the offshore drilling rigs. The application is very flexible and customisable and offers visualisation options to create pie charts, bar charts and the like. 

The time savings were immediately evident once the digital solution’s implementation was complete: The finance team was able to reduce the amount of time it required for data transfer and consolidation by 98%. More efficiency leads to better performance. It is one more unclogged cog in the wheel of global operations.

No one has a crystal ball to forecast the future. But with the right data and solutions, the likelihood of that future being brighter than ever is most promising indeed.

Andreas Simon is the regional director (Middle East and Africa) at Jedox, a leading enterprise performance management solutions provider

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