At the end of our last Big Data article, we indicated that we were going to track down some Big Data success stories from the procurement function.
What we found, or rather what we didn’t find, was a cause for concern. A criticism of Big Data has always been that it is nothing more than the latest marketing buzzword, and that Big Data is something that everyone talks about, but very few people or organisations actually do.
We remain unconvinced by this, but based on some fairly high level research and trying to find some real world examples, it would appear that procurement either isn’t properly utilising Big data, or it isn’t actively promoting its use, and celebrating successes, externally. The latter is bad enough, but the former is worse.
A search for how Big Data is being utilised in procurement around the world returned very few real-life examples. There were a number of great case studies around how other business functions have used big data to solve business problems, but procurement solutions appeared to be fairly thin on the ground.
Rio Tinto Trucks
One of these Big Data success stories, leading towards cost savings and procurement-led wins, that appeared as a result of our search was from the Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto. The company is using Big Data to monitor the state of the roads at their mine sites.
Site roadways are a critical asset for mining organisations and, in the past, their maintenance checks have been carried out by members of the workforce. This makes for a very time consuming and costly manual process, which ultimately is still vulnerable to human error.
Rio Tinto has recently improved this process dramatically by using a data driven approach. The company’s mining trucks now carry 300-400 sensors that constantly send data back to an operations centre.
A team in this centre processes the information received to provide the business an understanding of the condition of site’s roads, feeding back on the state of degradation and any maintenance work that might be required.
This analysis is carried out at a remote location, where staff are provided notifications on when an issue is likely to occur, rather than once it already has. This saves precious time and money that would be spent on manually reviewing the road condition, while also enabling preventative maintenance to be carried out, rather than disrupting operations when a larger issue is reported.
Challenges for You
Maybe we have missed something, or our search hasn’t been focused enough to uncover more Big Data success stories in the procurement space.
There are are guaranteed to be more examples in the business world of how procurement teams have used data analytics to improve the processes and performance of their business. In light of this, Procurious lays down the gauntlet with a couple of challenges for you:
- If you know of a great example of a successful application of Big Data in procurement, let us know! We would love to tell your story and share your experiences, thoughts and plans with the rest of the procurement community.
- If you think your organisation has a great example, find out who you have to speak to and get it publicised. Making more people aware of this can position your organisation as a leader in this area, and get people talking about it too.
Comment on this article, or send us an e-mail at [email protected] and we’ll profile it in an upcoming article!