The digital innovator harnessing the power of data

  • Posted on January 4, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Harnessing power of data in IT

This article was first published in Water Industry Journal.

Houston, we have a problem!

You may remember that iconic quote from the movie Apollo 13, which centred on NASA’s near-disastrous moon mission. Fast forward 50 years, and the ingenious solutions to that problem have become the basis for a superb technology that is reaping rewards for industry.

Digital technology solutions have evolved light years since Mission Control’s frantic experiments on a replica of the stricken space module ultimately succeeded in bringing the crew home to Earth.

Keen to use lessons learned, NASA promptly moved the module’s physical replica into digital representations of future space missions, so they could simulate a multitude of problems and solutions in super-quick time and come up with best outcomes. Hence the concept of digital twinning was born.

Digital technology specialists Avanade have built on this brilliant early work and developed their own high-value – and quick – digital twinning solutions for companies who aren’t necessarily IT gurus, but need support with any number of challenging issues, from network and infrastructure, to resource planning and, of course, customer service and silo working.

For example, as we all know, people are no longer content with simply receiving and paying bills in return for a service. They want value for money, and they want to know how they’re getting it, which could mean anything from demanding a real-time response to complaints and queries, to actual contact with field crew.

This is where Avanade steps in. They help clients harness the once largely hidden value of data by moving away from outdated computer data storage methods towards a more focused ‘real world view’ of the problems facing companies and customers alike.

Simon Turner, Avanade’s chief technology officer for data and AI, explains: “With the speed of change in technology, particularly during the past few years, it has become almost impossible for organisations to keep abreast of developments if technology isn’t their main focus. This is where we can really help make a difference.

“We can re-create real world environments for water companies, produce real world data, and model specific solutions with a huge degree of accuracy. For instance, monitoring water flow through pipes, or consumer demand on networks and resources, and simulating outcomes. The data can be used to watch for drops in water pressure and flow, spot leaks, and offer timely solutions.

“We help our clients tackle pressing issues and very real business needs and choose and use technology to their best advantage. Our end goal is to become their trusted adviser.”

He continues, “Digital twinning is a particular boost for water companies with lots of legacy infrastructure.

“For example, Victorian sewerage works simply can’t be replaced quickly. We ask, ‘How can we digitise this infrastructure, how can we put sensors in to understand the health of the network without wholesale replacement?

“We don’t expect water companies to be up to date with latest developments in, say, the cloud space. That’s not their job, their job is to make sure water is used effectively.”

“We can do a holistic approach or look at a specific challenge, such as the top 5 areas from a business value perspective, and then deliver the innovation.

“Our work has shown proven value within 4-6 weeks for previous clients. Our principle is based on failing fast, we don’t want to spend ages looking at a problem and saying if only we had this and that.”

Simon is keen to stress that Avanade with its global workforce of over 50,000 is not just involved with digital twins. This highly regarded company also works on office deployments and modern workplaces, infrastructure, and application developments. Its advanced solutions include master data and process automation, big data and analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, internet of things, liquid workforce, blockchain and learning gamification.

Simon concludes, “We are very focused on Microsoft technology – it’s part of our heritage - but our goal is to stand shoulder to shoulder with our clients and be technical advisors and thought leaders in this space.

“If a company has a number of business scenarios and preferred outcomes, and already gone through a value analysis, that would be great. If they don’t have a clear path of benefits, we can help them with that, and look at areas that would benefit from innovation. This could be in the form of brainstorming, workshops, working with in-house IT, and drawing up a priority list to show them how we can add value.”

Avanade’s ultimate aim is to help clients deliver the best customer experience. And, with the challenges of a shrinking, ageing workforce, their solutions are also key to providing employees with the necessary tools and the right insights at the right time.

Learn how Avanade is helping utility and energy companies transform the energy system and lower the cost of decarbonising the supply and demand on electricity in the UK.

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