2021 in review - the year in real world use cases

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez December 23, 2021
As ever, diginomica spent our time this year diving into customer stories. Here are some of the most interesting digital enterprise use cases in 2021.

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2021 has proven to be another disruptive year for enterprise technology buyers. The Vaccine Economy certainly began to take hold in certain regions of the world, but that doesn't mean any sort of ‘new normal' has emerged as of yet, particularly as the latest Omicron variant sweeps the world and further disruption is expected.

However, as we've seen over the past 12 months, the saying ‘don't let a good crisis go to waste' has often proven to be true. Some leading organizations have continued to adapt, change and innovate during COVID-19 - and in some cases have used the pandemic as an accelerator. 

As such, for my Christmas round-up this year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight some of the case studies on diginomica that have attracted the most interest. I hope they provide some food for thought and interesting insights as we enter 2022. 

How Rolls-Royce is improving engine sustainability with real-time data and digital twins

The way I want you to think about it is we've got a new generation of intelligent engine platform, which is built on cutting edge data analytics.

Why? Rolls-Royce is a household name in the aviation industry and powers over 13,000 engines in service around the world. We spoke with Chief Information Officer, Stuart Hughes, about how the company is collecting real-time engine data from its customers to model performance in the cloud, with the aim of reducing unnecessary maintenance efficiency and unplanned time on the ground for planes. An interesting example of how digital twins work in practice. 

Capital One closes its data centers and goes all in with AWS

We sought to completely redefine who we are as a company, to build a technology company that does banking, instead of a bank that just uses technology

Why? Capital One's SVP of Technology, Chris Nims, explains how Capital One - a bank that specializes in credit cards, auto loans and savings accounts - realized that it needed to change how it delivered services to its customers if it was going to compete in a digital-first world. Customer experiences, delivered in real-time, though software, data and algorithms is the aim - supported by a move to AWS. 

UPS rolls out ServiceNow ITSM globally in 27 weeks

We were dramatically changing our processes, introducing automation, asking our employees to do things differently than they do them today.

Why? UPS delivers 5.5 billion packages a year, has 495,000 employees and manages 249.9 million online tracking requests each day. In other words, it's a huge operation, on a global scale. But the physical nature of UPS's business isn't stopping it from thinking about how it uses digital technologies to enable its workforce, and also to better service its customers. We look at how it's using the ServiceNow platform to do just that. 

Inside Vodafone's new global data platform, powered by Google Cloud

In a telco, your billing system is in a separate system, your CRM is sitting in a different system, then you have all the network data. So we created a super ambitious plan to unify and harmonize the data model of all of these system.

Why? Telco giant Vodafone has started a multi-year project to migrate its SAP systems to Google Cloud, so that it can gain a single view of company data. The aim is to create a single data model that has access to all the company's data, whereby Vodafone engineers can more easily create and deploy AI models in the cloud. This is no small task, when you consider the company has 70 petabytes of data and hundreds of internal company systems to move. 

HSBC - using AI to join the financial crime ‘dots'

This is all about joining the dots- about making sure that we can get the full picture of our customers, both who they are, their profile and what they are doing, their behaviour.

Why? HSBC Group Financial Crime is a unit within the bank that operates on a global basis. Its job is to deliver a simplified framework for managing financial crime, leveraging specialist capabilities, data and technology, so as to enable HSBC to serve the needs of its customers. Central to that mission is something the bank calls its Global Social Network Analytics (GSNA) platform, which is powered by a contextual decision intelligence platform from supplier Quantexa. A huge data project with real-life consequences. 

How BT is working towards becoming an event-driven organization with Confluent

Enterprise information management at BT is almost about being a data marketplace, having all the data that I might need with all delivery modes available, being able to browse it, being able to understand the history of the lineage, and then being able to consume it, and then have a delivery mode that's applicable to me. This is our vision now.

Why? The UK's largest telco, BT, is in the midst of an incredibly interesting project, where it hopes that over time it will be able to expose real-time data events externally, in an attempt to monetize them and create new revenue streams. This is being done through the use of Confluent's Kafka platform, which is connecting data across BT's on-premise infrastructure, as well as in the cloud with GCP and AWS. This is a strategic project for BT that is worth the deep dive. 

African Bank shows business users the power of IT with Freshworks ITSM

These are business services that have got no IT involvement, they're purely the business offering these services out to the rest of the organization. Business sentiment was on the rise and more business units started taking notice of what Freshworks can do.

Why? One of Southern Africa's largest retail banks, African Bank, began adopting Freshworks for ITSM, but soon expanded to an enterprise-wide service management tool because of enthusiasm from its business users. The bank is making use of new automation features to speed up time to response and reduce the number of man hours needed to deal with issues. Service is the name of the game in 2022 and beyond. 

TAG Heuer goes all in on Salesforce to deliver D2C e-commerce

Now, because we wanted to put the customer at the centre, and we really wanted [the customer] to be able to have a strong attachment to the brand, the first step was to put in place the basics.

Why? Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer has been making avant-garde watches for more than 100 years. But the company is rethinking how it engages with its customers, shifting away from solely wholesale and adopting a direct-to-consumer approach to sales. The aim is to build a closer relationship with its customers and it is using Salesforce's cloud products to do so. The results? An eight-fold increase in D2C revenues. 

Pfizer modernizes drug development project management with Pega

At Pfizer we innovate every day to make the world a healthier place. We're committed to quality health care for everyone because every individual matters. [Things that challenged us included] - slow legacy systems, siloed applications, the need for an intuitive user experience and to be able to scale for the future.

Why? The development of COVID-19 vaccines has been one of the greatest medical achievements of our generation. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer was one of the first to bring an effective vaccine to market and the story of how it is using Pega to project manage the drug's development is well worth a read. Key to the project was data integrity and integration with Pfizer's other systems. 

How Spotify almost had its email marketing shut down because of spam traps

This kind of came out of the blue. This was actually my first marketing campaign that I'd ever worked on. But you can imagine that I was not having a great day.

Why? A bonus use case, because this was one of the most interesting and unusual stories I wrote this year - it's not often a company admits that they almost had to shut down a crucial business function because of an oversight on their part. But Spotify experienced exactly that, when its email marketing came close to collapse over Christmas last year because of spam traps - bad actor's looking to harm the music streaming service's systems. The case study could prove useful for other buyers, so is well worth a read. 

Disclosure - Confluent, Freshworks, Salesforce and ServiceNow are diginomica partners at time of writing.

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