We live in a golden age of data – and it’s widely understood the value data represents to organisations across the globe.
But many organisations struggle to realise the full value exploiting their data can provide, whether that is increased revenue, cost optimisation or risk management.
Instead, they are stymied by the technical and logistical challenges of collating data into a single location from the many disparate enterprise systems used to manage their complex operations.
It’s a challenge experienced by many of INX Software’s global resources clients, who have invested heavily in their in-house data and analytics capability to address this problem and break down these data silos.
Internal data platforms are used to ingest, manage and analyse operational, logistical, and business functional data, providing deep insights into daily operations.
But there is growing demand to incorporate advanced workforce logistics data, overlaying the movement and scheduling of remote teams.
“For our clients, who include companies running some of the most complex, far-flung and fluid workforces in the world, it’s critical to use best-in-class software to manage logistics,” says Alex Maund, INX Software’s Head of Data.
“We work with companies who might have tens of thousands of workers travelling vast distances with all the challenges that come around scheduling, managing, tracking and accommodating large remote teams.
“Depending on operational circumstances, they need tools that can rapidly enable the management of a shutdown, support a sudden demobilisation as a cyclone approaches, or just manage the rolling schedule of flights, accommodation booking, room cleaning and provisioning.
“But the message we have heard from our clients is that they also want that data directly accessible from their internal data platforms to support operational and management decision making in near real-time.”
Bridging the gap between INX’s SAM Suite workforce logistics software and in-house data platforms has been the goal of a major initiative that has seen INX developa new data sharing service, INX Cortex, enabled by its own data platform (powered by Snowflake, a global cloud data platform technology provider).
INX Cortex supports initiatives that remove data silos by allowing INX Software data to be extracted and shared in near real-time.
For a major mining company seeking to improve the visibility of its workforce data, that integration allows them to overlay personnel data with mine operational, safety and work order data, providing greater insights, supporting decision making, and enabling the development of advanced AI solutions to modernise their operations.
“While APIs are commonly used by software providers for data integration, they can be limiting and are not always designed for ingestion of all data entities within the source system,” Mr Maund says.
Instead, INX Cortex ingests all key data from INX SAM Suite into INX’s data platform, which then leverages Snowflake’s native data sharing capabilities, to share instantly into a client’s Snowflake environment.
The solution uses best in breed cloud-based technologies, is highly scalable and available, and secure. Data is encrypted both at rest and in-transit, and client data is segregated inside INX Cortex to ensure only the correct data is shared.
For clients not using Snowflake, the data is made available via native connectors, allowing those clients to use their preferred data ingestion tool.
“Snowflake is increasingly used by Fortune 500 clients and top global companies and provides these companies the opportunity to easily share and monetise their data,” he says.
“Once we share data in our Snowflake environment, it is almost instantaneously available to our client.
“We’ve built our own data platform anchored around Snowflake, replicating the customer’s application database into our platform.
“From a client perspective, they don’t have to worry about whether they are seeing all the data, or if they are going to impact the operational system, nor do they need to build additional data ingestion pipelines. It is a significant advance that takes away the pain.”
The advance puts workforce logistics data into the hands of customer, while allowing it to remain on a bespoke best-in-class solution, Mr Maund says.
Over time, it will also open up the opportunities for INX customers to benefit from the insights captured at scale.
“The first step for any mining client will be to understand the trends and implications of workforce logistics data now they can more easily overlay this against operational, safety, and financial data,” Mr Maund says.
“Is there a trend between the length of swings, accumulated flight delays and a decline in production? Is there predictive data based on movement of the workforce that can be used to improve operational performance?
“Can we predict the likelihood of a safety incident and the reasons why, and provide management with the recommended actions to mitigate?
“In the future, we believe we will see clients benefiting not just from the accumulated data of one company and one mine but the ability to anonymise and analyse data at scale.
“That’s when our customers will be able to access much more detailed and powerful data analytics, enabling them to better plan, mobilise and deploy their people for operational success.”