Advanced analytics spending in the UK to jump to £24 billion by 2020

14 June 2018

Big Data and Advanced Analytics have been 'hot' topics for some time now, and spending in the segment looks set to double by 2020. Britain is currently spending £12 billion on advanced analytics, and while currently it lags well behind the maturity of competitors such as the US, the UK is set to catch up over the coming three years.

Big Data by definition entails the underlying need to process a voluminous and complex amount of data in the area of terabytes if not petabytes (in other words, a large volume of data). Its use has been touted as a potential game-changer for businesses as, while traditional data-processing application software is inadequate to deal with them, the capture, storage and data analysis of such data could reveal vital statistics relating to everything from corporate fraud, to changing consumer behaviour, to supply chain inefficiencies.

Due to this, Big Data is regarded as one of the most important drivers of digital transformation, however, tapping into that potential is easier said than done. Many UK companies are still finding their way around Big Data, testing technologies, use cases and tools, as well as new operational models, with as many as 70% recently stating that their Big Data projects failed to realise Big Data’s full potential. As a result, spending is expected to accelerate in the years ahead, because of greater proliferation of data, greater computing power, and the need to find ever more competitive advantage - all driven by analytics.

Percentage of organisations where there is a good understanding of analytics

According to new research by strategy consultancy OC&C, early indicators demonstrate the major advantage that a decent understanding of analytics can deliver. The consulting firm found that of the ‘best’ performing companies, 94% have a good understanding of analytics, compared to 38% of average or poor performers. While it does not guarantee success then, being able to wield analytics with confidence thanks to an informed workforce clearly boosts a company’s chances of succeeding as a business. In line with this, some 90% of the best performers are those which have significantly changed their operations to facilitate advanced analytics.

US companies are currently a long way ahead of their UK counterparts in terms of advanced analytics however. The States currently boast a 58% uptake, ten percentage points higher than the rate at which British firms are adopting the technology.

The US also posts a better average in terms of functional areas per company taking up advanced analytics. In the US, 7.1% of each company’s functionalities leverage advanced analytics, compared to 5.7% in the UK. The US has already invested heavily in the analytics scene, and approximately 60% of companies across the US are planning to double their investment in the area in the next three years, from £58 billion to £112 billion by 2020.

According to the report, however, the UK, which is set to make its own concerted effort to invest in technology – as the country attempts to position itself as a global tech hub to soften the impact of Brexit – will match this level of commitment. In fact, while 60% of UK companies also plan to more than double their investment in analytics, OC&C researchers believe that the UK may gain ground on the US by 2020 in terms of analytics maturity. UK companies intend to increase their average spending on advanced analytics to £24 billion per year by 2020.

Percentage uptake of advanced analytics, by country

James Walker, Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said of the results, “When it comes to investing in analytics to drive business results, the message from this research is: ‘go big, or go home.’ There is a clear relationship between spending more on analytics and outperforming your peers – the more you spend, the more superior your performance.”

Being successful with advanced analytics

Despite the intention of many company leaders to expand the role of advanced analytics, only a minority feel it is having a positive impact on their businesses, however. Opinion varies across sectors, with 33% of B2B companies perceiving a positive impact, followed by 26% of retailers, while even fewer businesses in the leisure (19%), Telecoms, Media and Technology (TMT) (13%) and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) (8%) sectors have found analytics to be beneficial.

According to Walker, in order to be successful, “it’s also important to create the right conditions for analytics to be successful and realise its potential. These include laying the right foundations, grounded in senior leadership commitment; enabling success by giving analytics critical mass at the core of the business; and creating a culture that embraces analytics around people who understand its value.”

OC&C therefore also set out a number of key steps companies can put in place to feel the benefits of data analytics more acutely. The report suggested that foundational imperatives are one such priority, with senior sponsorship, commitment, and a focus on business goals already driving 58% of the best performing organisations, in contrast to 20% in the worst performing companies.

Enabler imperatives are also important. This means that up-to-date technology, trust-worthy data, and a central analytics team with substantial resources, process alignment, and continuous feedback and evolution of the analytics capability can all facilitate success. This was supported by 71% of organisations which claimed technology implementation was the main trigger for investment in analytics, and the fact that 69% of the best performing companies already have centralised analytics teams.

Finally, OC&C recommend people centred imperatives. What should be common sense to most companies when introducing new technology and methodologies to their organisation is that training both the providers and consumers of analytics is important to get the most from them. To this end, alongside the previously mentioned statistic that 94% of the best performing companies reported a good understanding of analytics throughout their workforce, a further 80% of meetings in the best performing companies include analytics or data elements – expanding the practice throughout the culture of such entities.


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.