You wouldn’t drive a car with a speedometer that tells you how fast you were travelling yesterday, and yet that's how most businesses use data. If data is even available, the information it yields is typically retrospective. It tells you what has happened, but offers little insight into what might happen next, or how you could prepare for it.
Tomorrow’s leading companies will not be those with the most data, it will be those who truly embrace prescriptive analytics: analytics which predict the future, simulate potential outcomes and suggest changes to increase productivity.
Just a little over 12 months ago, McLaren Applied Technologies and Deloitte came together to address this, combining our expertise to create products which would drive performance in business, which could then be brought to a global market.
In essence, the ambition was to go beyond big data; applying Formula 1 derived digital modelling and simulation techniques to the day-to-day running of businesses, and applying our understanding to create solutions to optimise productivity.
A year on and we are already developing software tools to unlock performance across multiple industries. For manufacturers, we are optimising production and inventory decisions; and we have early concepts aimed at improving patient experience in healthcare. We are also piloting solutions to improve the operation of complex logistics in airports.
The products are aimed at simplifying complex problems by taking physical tasks and analysing these digitally, enabling us to easily explore the problem, simulate, and optimise. By doing so, we make insights available to those system operators, not just data scientists. They can then make a decision not next week, but seconds or minutes later, at the precise time they need to make a decision.
Keeping the ‘human in the loop’ is fundamental, to ensure the knowledge of industry experts is built into the technology. This is just the same principle as in Formula 1, where cars are developed with input from the driver in a simulator, and race scenario models are capable of predicting competitor actions.
McLaren Deloitte’s first product, SupplyCycle, is now in full development. Aimed at manufacturers, it utilises genetic algorithms and simulation technologies to optimise factory production cycles, create operational stability in the face of fluctuating demand, free up capacity and reduce working capital. Once we had a working prototype, we approached Colgate-Palmolive’s global manufacturing and supply chain experts with the idea. Very quickly we were testing and developing the concept with them in one of their European factories. This was a great chance for us to stress test the product with a very sophisticated user, and early results suggest that SupplyCycle will deliver on expected ROI targets. Next steps will be to pilot the product with some other different customers and finalise integration with well-established ERP systems before a full release later this year.
While Industry 5.0 is now on the horizon, many businesses are still grappling to come to terms with Industry 4.0. The products being created by McLaren Deloitte are set to change this – directly improving business productivity through data driven solutions, with humans firmly in the driving seat - and one eye on the speedometer.