Oliver Wyman establishes Big Data unit: OW Labs

26 September 2014 Consultancy.uk

Global consulting firm Oliver Wyman has recently launched ‘Oliver Wyman Labs’ – a research unit that helps clients unleash the power of data through the blended application of strategy, analytics and technology. Oliver Wyman Labs will be led by the experienced partners Paul Beswick, Colin Cobain, and Matthew Isotta.

Over the past years, Big Data has developed into one of the key strategic focus areas for companies. At the same time, companies are struggling with keeping up with the pace of the data explosion – currently over 2.5 million terabytes of data is created each day – and as a result they are anxiously seeking manners to improve the way they manage their information capital.

Oliver Wyman - Big Data

For consulting firms, Big Data represents a lucrative growth and service opportunity – according to analyst firm Kennedy, the field is one of the largest growing segments in the global consulting market. To better service clients and capture a share of the pie, consultants have been bundling their digital capabilities across expertise areas (e.g. strategy, sales & marketing, technology, design) into specialised ‘Digital’ units. Deloitte was one of the first to establish Deloitte Digital, and over the past months several rivals have followed, including the likes of Accenture (Accenture Digital), Capco (Capco Digital), McKinsey (McKinsey Digital) and PwC (PwC Digital Services). 

Now also Oliver Wyman, a global consultancy with 50+ offices in 25 countries, has decided to jump on the bandwagon with the launch of ‘Oliver Wyman Labs’. The new unit will, according to the management consultancy, support clients with unleashing the power of the information they already have or could capture, essentially driving competitive advantage and sustained impact. Oliver Wyman Labs will offer four main service offerings:

Oliver Wyman - Main Service Offerings

- advanced analytics on very large/complex data sets to create new insights and understanding;
- the design and build of dashboard applications to boost management information;
- decision support solutions that allow companies to improve decision-making processes;
- technology solutions such as data discovery, application development and ongoing support. 

“The establishment of OW Labs as a new unit formalises a capability that Oliver Wyman has been developing over the last eight years in sectors that have been at the vanguard of using Big Data to drive business decision making, such as retail and technology,” says Scott McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of Oliver Wyman. “OW Labs is now taking those leading edge capabilities across all of the sectors and geographies we serve,” he adds.

Scott McDonald - Paul Bewick - Matthew Isotta - Colin Cobain

Oliver Wyman Labs will be led by Paul Beswick, a Boston-based partner, Matthew Isotta, a 24-year old veteran at the firm, and Colin Cobain, since 2012 partner at the consultancy and the former CIO of Tesco. “We have pioneered new approaches that combine innovative technology, consulting, and OW’s leading intellectual capital to equip our clients to make decisions better, faster and more easily,” says Isotta. OW Labs co-head Cobain adds: “The merger of high calibre consulting skills and leading technology capability allows us to deliver for our clients a quality of outcome others can only dream of.”

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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.