OC&C bolsters data science consulting capabilities with Ugam partnership

09 October 2018 Consultancy.uk

OC&C Strategy Consultants has agreed a partnership with Ugam, a Mumbai headquartered leader in data and analytics. Leveraging Ugam’s data sources and advanced analytics capabilities, OC&C will be able to augment its strategy and business consulting services with deeper insights, empowering its clients to make better data-driven decisions.

According to, James Walker, Partner and Global Head of Analytics at OC&C Strategy Consultants, Ugam’s experience applying advanced data science in the e-commerce sector is something which aligns well with OC&C’s data-centric philosophy. With this firm foundation of cultural synergy, the duo will look to supply retail analytics to a sector which is struggling to overcome a sustained downturn in performance.

Walker added, “We seek to fuel strategy with data, giving clients creative, actionable strategies. Partnering with Ugam allows us to provide clients an even greater range of data sources, combining external competitor and customer data with internal, proprietary data. Together, we can deliver more comprehensive solutions that will benefit our clients.”

OC&C bolsters data science consulting capabilities with Ugam partnership

Ugam is a global professional services firm headquartered in Mumbai, India, which uses data and analytics to assist retailers, brands, B2B distributors and market research firms transform big data into valuable insights. The company’s unique managed service offering combines a proprietary big data technology platform with deep domain knowledge and analytics expertise to empower clients to make decisions that improve their business.

The partnership sees Ugam’s capabilities complement a number of in-house tools which OC&C already has developed internally. These include two tools which are deployable at “industrial strength” scale. First of all, a tool called SKU Rat for creating optimised assortments (stripping out low margin stock keeping units, or SKUs, that are cannibalising high margin SKUs) and stretched price ladders. Then, there is the aptly named Space Man, which aims to optimise micro and macro space allocation by store format (e.g. certain categories are generating low margin given their allocated space, and this can be reallocated to more productive categories.) The two firms also intend to develop tools around Promotions (Promo Plan), Location and Network, Category strategy (i.e. inter category decisions) and Category management (i.e.: intra category decisions) support, among other ideas.

Analytics

The news of the partnership comes as analytics-driven consulting is booming. Digital consumption has led to customers being less loyal to individual brands, and companies subsequently having to become more data-savvy to work out the best way to maintain their sales figures. As a result, demand for strategy consultants in the retail and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) arenas has spiked dramatically.

For Ugam, the partnership allows the firm to enlarge its base of its users and deliver more meaningful impact. Sunil Mirani, Ugam co-founder and CEO, elaborated, “OC&C’s business expertise is unmatched, making them the ideal collaborator in our effort to continuously deliver insights that give our clients a competitive edge. Our combined expertise will mutually accelerate our pace of innovation, developing new solutions and helping organisations use analytics to modernise their business strategies for the digital era.”

“We seek to fuel strategy with data, giving clients creative, actionable strategies. Partnering with Ugam, we can deliver more comprehensive solutions that will benefit our clients.”
– James Walker, OC&C

At the same time, OC&C has prior experience in applying data for strategies, which this will further enhance. Previous examples include having helped a multi-country EMEA gas station and convenience store business develop their analytics capability, and supporting a large European retailer where OC&C were “doing” analytics at scale for them. This included looking at optimising the store’s Price/Promo/SKU mix as an integrated model. In line with this, the partnership will in primarily be leveraged by OC&C teams focusing on the retail, consumer goods, FMCG and ecommerce sectors, however OC&C also works with telecoms, media, technology, education and B2B clients.

Further remarking on the partnership, OC&C’s James Walker said, “We have a sizeable advanced analytics team of our own, based in London… [which] tends to work embedded into project teams, often working at client sites seamlessly with our strategy folks. For example, we just spent eight weeks working with a client, embedded into their marketing team, helping them optimise their Christmas and 2019 marketing plans. We're working with a gym chain, again embedded into their business, supporting them with customer analytics and pricing.”

One area which the partnership allows for future improvement of these services in is the Internet of Things. Walker concluded, “It’s these huge IoT data sets that actually the extra data handling capabilities of Ugam are interesting for. The Ugam resource is additional horsepower we have available when we need more resource, and their platform can help us with huge data sets on occasion, e.g.: IoT data. By teaming from time to time on projects, this also helps us in our relationship around building the new advanced tools.”

Related: OC&C Strategy Consultants closes seven transactions in private equity.

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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.