Who Are You?
Nigel Ivy. Director of Leopard Business Solutions. My role is predominately focused on business & operations and business development. As a company, we specialise in Solution Architecture and Data Warehousing. We help other companies to get the most out of their data by designing and implementing Data Warehouses that are fit for purpose and helping them to implement good Data Governance to ensure that their Data Quality is maintained and the data is consumed by their decision makers.
Roger Ivy. Managing Director of Leopard Business Solutions. My role as managing director my role is really about setting the vision and culture of our business and leading our team to deliver that. I spend most of my time building relationships with customers, suppliers and our staff. With over 30 years in the industry, I’m the technical lead in Leopard, so I’m often working on projects in the capacity of technical delivery manager or solution architect. I also speak at events on the subject of BI, Big Data and Data Governance.
Why Are You So Passionate About Data?
Nigel Ivy. I’ve worked on a number of interesting projects over the years and I love seeing how companies can improve when they use their data well. There’s something special about seeing someone’s eyes light up when they see the insights that they can get out of their data and they start to see how much they can improve their business from their data. Data can be a goldmine and I really like helping companies find that goldmine.
Roger Ivy. Data in itself is of limited value. It’s when the data is transformed into information and then into insights that it becomes exciting. Without meaningful information and insights it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to drive any business proactively. In this day and age directing a business by the seat of our pants no longer works. Marginal gains can make the difference between surviving and going under. Major gains using data can result in extremely successful business ventures. This is why I am passionate about data.
How Can Solution Architecture & Data Warehousing Affect A Business For Better Or Worse?
Nigel Ivy. We’ve seen so many businesses that make critical decisions based on information that they have received from spreadsheets or make decisions based on instinct rather than fact. Solution Architecture and Data Warehousing eliminates the risk of making such big decisions on something that’s maybe not as stable or trustworthy as we think it is. Having a Data Warehouse reduces the risk of incomplete data, losing information because of spreadsheet corruptions and ultimately helps our decision making process become more robust and accurate because the information that we’re making decisions on is more robust and accurate.
Roger Ivy. We clearly live in the age of data. Big data, conventional data, it makes little difference to the need for governance and trust. A properly architected data warehouse will have data governance built into it, which in turn results in trust. If the consumers of the information and insights trust the underlying data and the way it has been transformed they will have confidence in their informed decisions and will continue using the data warehouse. Ad-hoc reporting has it’s place, but where systems are used to assist decisions involving large amounts of money there these systems should be carefully architected into a robust data warehouse.
What Are Some Of Your Favourite Success Stories?
Nigel Ivy. We had a customer that knew that their supply chain was not as optimised as it could be, so we helped them to build a Data Warehouse that produced data and analysis that helped them to produce a business case for optimising their supply chain. Essentially, we modelled their supply chain and a number of “what if” scenarios that would be used to build up a business case to transform their supply chain by moving to having more distributors for their smaller customers. This sort of analysis and the output required to make a really informed decision at this level would only have been possible with the Data Warehouse that we produced. The customer would never have been able to use a spreadsheet to produce the results that they used or their alternative would have been to do it based on instinct. The result was that the business case was accepted and they implemented changes to their supply chain to move some of their customers to distributors so that they saved costs.
Roger Ivy. One of our customers, a large global company, had limited information on the forecast cost of goods sold. This meant that it was not possible to have meaningful conversations with customers over pricing until the very last minute, and it was difficult to ensure correct supply of raw materials. The solution that we implemented required a very high level of data governance as there were several hundred feeds required to fully forecast their cost of goods sold. The end result was a twenty four month forecast of cost of goods and quantity of raw materials. Various inputs including forecast foreign currency exchange rates, estimated sales of product and cost of key raw materials were used to calculate a trusted forecast. This was a greenfields project which meant that we were able to build it from the ground up to be fit for purpose.