Whitecap to support DIT FinTech Missions to Northern Powerhouse

10 October 2018 Consultancy.uk

As the UK looks to court FinTech talent from across the world, the Northern Powerhouse project is preparing to welcome two missions from the Nordics in the coming months. In order to support this, Whitecap Consulting has been enlisted to assist with the important events.

Established in 2012, Whitecap Consulting works with mid-sized organisations and divisions of corporate businesses across multiple sectors including: Financial Services, Technology, Retail, Higher Education, Property, Healthcare and Inward Investment. Supporting clients typically located outside London, the firm usually helps clients analyse, develop and implement growth strategies.

Whitecap's clients have included Bibby Financial Services, The Co-operative Group, Costcutter, OCS, Department of International Trade, Furness Building Society and London South Bank University, among others. The firm is also a co-founder of FinTech North; an events initiative, championing FinTech in the so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ economy.

The Northern Powerhouse is a proposal to boost economic growth in the North of England by the Conservative government in the UK, particularly in the "Core Cities" of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle. Now, as Whitecap looks to bring further FinTech missions into the North, the firm has announced it will be working with the Department for International Trade over the next six months.

Whitecap to support DIT FinTech Missions to Northern Powerhouse

FinTech is a fast-growing sector that already contributes £6.6 billion annually to the UK economy, and employs over 60,000 people. Further growth in the sector has been prioritised by the UK Government, as the British economy braces for a period of economic turbulence relating to an uncertain Brexit.

Nordic-Baltic delegation

In November, a delegation of approximately 15-20 FinTech firms from the Nordic-Baltic region will visit the North of England for the second consecutive year. In February, a similar sized European delegation expected to be made up of FinTech firms predominantly from Western Europe will visit.

Each of the delegations will follow a similar programme, spending time in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds in a schedule that will showcase the region’s businesses, universities, and economic landscape. This year, as with last year, Whitecap will support the two missions.

Commenting on the contract, Julian Wells, Director at Whitecap Consulting, said, “We are proud to once again have the opportunity to work with DIT on its programme of FinTech missions. Our primary objective is to create opportunities for the visiting FinTechs to engage directly with organisations and individuals in the north so they can discuss genuine commercial opportunities. We will be working closely with the regional cities across the north to ensure the missions showcase the collective strength and opportunity offered by the Northern Powerhouse as a region.”

Jeremy Coupland, Financial Services Sector Specialist for the Northern Powerhouse at DIT, remarked, “We’re delighted to be working on these two important missions which will showcase the UK’s excellent capabilities in FinTech innovation. We want to promote investment opportunities in the Northern Powerhouse as a comparative and complementary option to London, and our aim is that the visiting FinTech firms gain an understanding of the regional financial services ecosystems in the north, including identifying business opportunities and seeing a clear demonstration of the UK’s pro-innovation regulation.”

Related: Whitecap Consulting to open Bristol and Newcastle offices.

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

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

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.