The tech that has saved Sodexo tens of millions of dollars

The tech that has saved Sodexo tens of millions of dollars
Using Microsoft tech to transform on a global scale, Sodexo has achieved significant new efficiencies

Richard Humphreys |

Global facilities management company Sodexo is harnessing Microsoft technologies including Azure, Dynamics 365, IoT Hub and Power BI, to underpin a major digital and business transformation initiative, beginning in Australia but set to ripple through the international organisation.

Efficiency gains unleashed by the initiative have already saved one of Sodexo’s clients tens of millions of dollars in the start-up phase, while Sodexo’s movement towards mutualisation – offering full management of all non-core business to clients – has allowed another to replace 600 separate contractors with a single integrated and highly efficient service from Sodexo.

Sodexo is one of many Australian organisations starting major digital transformation initiatives. A Microsoft Asia study into digital transformation found that business leaders in Australia are urgently embracing digital transformation. In fact, 83% of those surveyed believe they need to transform to a digital business to enable future growth, and 85% agree that new data insights can lead to new revenue streams for their organisation. And, like Sodexo, Australian businesses are typically creating digital strategies that put their customers and employees first.

In Australia, Sodexo delivers integrated facilities management services to a wide range of enterprises, including some of the nation’s leading miners, as well as corporate, schools, offshore oil rigs, aged care facilities and prisons. In Western Australia alone Sodexo transports more than 6,000 workers to and from their work each day; over 18,000 meals are cooked and consumed daily; 16,000 rooms are serviced; and around 23,500 smoke detectors are managed and maintained.

To streamline operations and boost efficiency Sodexo has replaced a series of standalone and siloed computing systems with Azure and Dynamics 365. The integrated cloud-based solution ensures that Sodexo personnel and clients have secure, anytime, anywhere access to information and real-time decision-making support.

Working with Microsoft gold partner, Velrada, the solution has been deployed in just six months and is intended as the blueprint for a global transformation initiative underway at Sodexo. Internationally, the company provides services to more than 75 million people, in multiple sectors across 84 countries, and employs more than 425,000 staff.

The digital transformation has also allowed Sodexo to accelerate the rollout of its ‘mutualisation’ business model. Under this model, clients sign up for a broader range of integrated services, and Sodexo and the client share in the resulting efficiency dividend.

Mutualisation’s success, however, depends on Sodexo management having streamlined access to accurate and granular data that allows services to be optimised rapidly to meet changing client needs or expectations.

Dan Hookham, Velrada’s director, says that to build equivalent functionality from standalone solutions – which was Sodexo’s original global plan – would have required integration of 20 to 30 different systems, and injected immense complexity and brought significant cost. Hookham said that to build the new platform that way would have taken at least two and a half years instead of the six months that the Azure alternative required.

At the same time, Sodexo benefits from Azure’s global reach, security, scale and resilience, which are essential to its global ambition.

Dynamics 365 has initially been deployed to underpin Sodexo’s customer service and field services, and it forms the foundation for a secure cloud-based client portal for end-user self-service, feedback and status updates.

Tight integration across Microsoft platforms, particularly Dynamics 365 and Power BI, ensures transparency and accuracy along with rich reporting tools to support Sodexo executives’ decision-making and service optimisation. Sodexo has also deployed Azure machine learning, predictive analytics via Power BI and Azure’s IoT Hub.

Sodexo’s first IoT initiative has commenced introducing using sensors to automate and streamline water treatment inspection. This initiative will mean instead of sending staff out to make routine checks, personnel are only deployed when an anomaly is identified or forecasted by predictive analytics, saving money and time.

Paul Bean, Sodexo’s Mining Asia Pacific CEO, said Sodexo wants to automate as many routine tasks as possible – from water inspection to air conditioning servicing, or managing 300 buses and their drivers spread over an area the size of California.

Besides enhancing efficiency, the system delivers a rich data source, allowing Sodexo to transform itself. According to Bean: “Many organisations work to traditional measures like cost of labour or the cost of raw materials. This system allows us to go deeper and understand where efficiencies can be delivered through integrating services more, or in some cases less.

“The system is a component that enables those savings and efficiencies to be made – it’s not the only component, but it is an important component and it’s the difference to me from being able to make a 10% saving and a 15 to 20% saving for a client.

“Information is king and if you haven’t got the empirical data then every decision you make can influence positive or negative cost results.

“This gives us certainty – I talk in the business about which levers to pull. Well, the technology delivers a clearer understanding of the impact of change. We can analyse the financial impact on us and the client if we change a route or a schedule.

“As the system matures and the data provides a richer output – then the efficiencies and opportunities for optimisation become stronger and pretty dynamic. When the client’s world changes, we are able to change with it and predict with reasonable certainty what the impact will be on them and us.”

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