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Data integration and analytics in the cloud: Kiwi consulting firm BRANZ shares lessons

Data integration and analytics in the cloud: Kiwi consulting firm BRANZ shares lessons

Our project managers can focus on their work without worrying about how the IT systems are working together, says Dr Chris Litten, general manager of industry research.

It was a very business-led process, it was not about a software solution

Dr Chris Litten, BRANZ

BRANZ, the independent research, testing and consulting firm for  the construction industry, has just deployed the Boomi integration platform to centralise operational and client data across the organisation.

BRANZ runs a multi-faceted operation that relies on data analytics to determine a wide range of factors/metrics related to construction. These include how a building would perform in a fire or what would happen to indoor air quality should windows be closed for prolonged periods, and so on.

This information is then combined with detailed evaluations of how the construction sector is performing, so providing its clients with a holistic service.

With more than 60,000 client records, BRANZ needed a simple way to connect the range of data they have generated as part of its services.

This includes data from Salesforce and Microsoft NAV, as well as the series of bespoke applications it relies on.

 “We have records that have been cobbled together through internal processes and bits of software over the years,” says Dr Chris Litten, general manager of industry research at BRANZ.  

“We got to the point where there was so much we wanted to do, and when we wanted to find information, we had to go through three or four different systems,” says Litten, explaining the business driver for the project.

He says the system was launched six weeks ago.

It was such a big change for the organisation, and we are already realising the benefits, he tells CIO New Zealand.

Dr Chris Litten of BRANZ: "The benefit of using cloud services is we can focus on our core business of supporting the construction industry through independent and impartial research and consultancy services, rather than trying to build and maintain an on-premises IT environment."
Dr Chris Litten of BRANZ: "The benefit of using cloud services is we can focus on our core business of supporting the construction industry through independent and impartial research and consultancy services, rather than trying to build and maintain an on-premises IT environment."

Just last week, a client was asking questions and the staff found it was easy to find the data. In the old setup, it would have taken them up to two weeks to gather the data.

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“It has sped up the whole process around customer concerns and addressing issues.”

The catalyst for the project started two years ago, when BRANZ went through a process to identify operational pain points.

One of their discoveries was that they had so much data in so many different places. “We knew we had diverse data, but it was a lot more than expected,” he says.

It has shown just how many interactions we have with customers from different parts of the organisation, he states.

They found that while they have all the right applications in place, “we couldn’t always use them consistently to drive key business decisions due to disparity in data,” says Litten.

BRANZ worked with Davanti for the implementation, which allowed the organisation to link up its systems and applications to make data readily-available for analysis, while also ensuring it is accurate and up-to-date across all of them, regardless of where they originate.

BRANZ used Boomi integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS), to ensure this data is readily-available, accurate and up-to-date across all systems. With Boomi’s cloud-native integration platform, these connections will run in the cloud.

The fact that all our systems are now in the cloud gives us certainty that the data will be there, says Litten. “In our production system, we almost have live data, so we can do testing on that on a regular basis.”           

"The benefit of using cloud services is we can focus on our core business of supporting the construction industry through independent and impartial research and consultancy services, rather than trying to build and maintain an on-premises IT environment,” says Litten.

“Boomi is simple to use and enables all our systems to work seamlessly together. This means our project managers can focus on the work they need to do without worrying about how the IT systems are working together.”

He says full visibility over its project data will make BRANZ more efficient in the way it manages projects, and allow it to be more proactive with customers no matter how many projects it has running concurrently.

As a result, BRANZ will be supported to maintain its impartiality, independence and trusted reputation within the New Zealand construction industry, which is of critical importance for the organisation.

Both sides now: Lessons learned

Litten says that in deploying a similar system, organisations should focus on the change management process for the internal teams.

He says before BRANZ assessed potential solutions, they spent a year talking to the staff about their high level requirements.  

Managing vast volumes of data – particularly when it relates to structural safety – always comes with an element of challenge

Michael Evans, Dell Boomi

“We were upfront and honest with them,” he says, as they talked to the teams on what they needed.

“It was a very business-led process, it was not about a software solution,” says Litten.

He says some of the questions they asked staff were: “What would the business need? What would you need to see resolved or addressed? What frustrates you in your work?”

He says they captured all these information and started looking at ways to address them.

“There were some obvious solutions, but the key one was how do you have all this data across the systems working in a really smart way?”

“Managing vast volumes of data – particularly when it relates to structural safety – always comes with an element of challenge,” says Michael Evans, managing director APJ, Dell Boomi.

“However,  throughout this project, we were able to bypass this challenge by working with Davanti and BRANZ to fully understand BRANZ’s operational intricacies, and then implement our integration platform to ensure all data was properly synchronised and up-to-date, and easily accessible by approved users.”

 “Builders and architects rely on BRANZ independent research to make key business decisions around design and construction – if this data is out of date, there can be significant delays to or malfunctions within a build,” he adds.

With Boomi synchronising its apps in the cloud, “BRANZ can focus on delivering granular insights to its clients with confidence that the data being used is accurate, and contains all the right information to deliver its services.”

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Tags CloudData managementDellboomiconstructiondata analyticsUXcxMichael Evansdell boomiDr Chris Littenm BRANZ

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