This article first appeared in the
Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.
Each year, logistics provider Kotahi transports billions of dollars’ worth of cargo from New Zealand to more than 400 ports or inland facilities worldwide. To create an efficient global supply chain, Kotahi wanted to automate its manual demand forecasting processes, which took highly specialised employees three or four days to complete.
“Using our previous methods it was possible to estimate demand, but there was still potential to miss opportunities to streamline operations because of small errors in the predictions, or because it simply took too long to identify opportunities,” explains Neville Richardson, Kotahi’s group IT manager. “Kotahi needed a powerful business intelligence (BI) solution that would let us forecast demand accurately and quickly.”
Kotahi chose to deploy Exceed Analytics from DXC Eclipse, which is built in Microsoft Power BI specifically for Microsoft Dynamics AX. Powerful forecasting models built on Microsoft’s machine learning technology sit at the heart of Kotahi’s customised Exceed Analytics solution, tapping into a Microsoft Azure SQL DB data warehouse with historical supply and demand data for the company’s main markets and product lines. Users can visualise insights via reports and dashboards running on Power BI.
Exceed Analytics has reduced Kotahi’s demand forecasting processes to less than 30 minutes, enhanced data governance and reliability, and empowered all business users to run their own financial reports.
“Kotahi was able to move from forecasting via spreadsheets, to automating a large chunk of the process due to the machine learning capabilities of the solution,” says Richardson. “This improved accuracy while reducing the time spent on the forecasting process. An accuracy improvement of just 5% could make a significant difference to a business like Kotahi.”
According to Richardson, the project’s success can largely be attributed to the strong partnership between DXC Eclipse and Microsoft.
“Kotahi’s business is complicated and we needed partners to take the time to understand it, which both Eclipse and Microsoft did,” says Richardson. “Taking this extra time to get it right from the start was beneficial, as we ended up doing more, such as automating around the edges of processes. Now it’s largely a self-service solution and we can expand it into other business areas ourselves. In this way, DXC Eclipse has helped us achieve the strongest possible return on our investment and we will continue to turn to DXC Eclipse for expert advice and help.”
In future, Kotahi plans to use Exceed Analytics for predictive analysis and modelling in other areas of the business departments.
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