Turning 15 Years of Data Into Robust Analytics and Reports, Achieving Cloud Migration
For more than 30 years, Sphera has been committed to creating a safer, more sustainable, and productive world by advancing operational excellence. As the largest global provider of integrated risk management software, the company helps businesses make sense of their operational data. Its products offer an integrated view of risk and compliance data that can be used to reduce operational risk and improve environmental performance.
In 2017, the company unveiled its cloud-based platform, SpheraCloud, to complement its robust on-premise solutions. By moving to the cloud, Sphera could bring more value to its customers. One such opportunity was to integrate critical customer data being gathered across its cloud-based platform to enhance Sphera’s predictive and prescriptive analytics, reporting, and data availability for real-time customer needs.
However, aggregating 15 years of non-uniform data in a manner that was most beneficial to its clients and data scientists presented quite the challenge. To deliver results quickly, Sphera approached Forte Group.
With real-time data, companies can create plans and processes that promote worker safety and well-being, resulting in happier employees, reduced downtime, and improved operational maturity. Sphera’s solutions allowed customers to capture data via a flexible interface, which meant that one customer’s data fields would not necessarily match another customer’s data fields.
The company’s biggest challenge was to standardize the data to yield critical insights and build future predictive capabilities. Building a mapping tool to unify all of its data was the optimal solution. However, Sphera had just four and a half months to present this new feature to its customers during its annual conference, and its data scientists needed complete, real-world data to test their algorithms.
The company couldn’t do it in-house within the timeline: internal development teams had reached capacity and could no longer take on new projects. The team needed a competent solutions partner that could quickly grasp the company’s complex data and build a tool that could aggregate and standardize that data. That’s when Sphera approached Forte Group.
“We had a handful of projects that we wanted to accelerate but didn’t have the team in-house to do it,” Perry Marchant, Chief Technology Officer at Sphera, said. “What attracted us to Forte was the idea that the work the team was committing to was guaranteed to get done. Forte was willing to take on risk with us. That meant they were incentivized to understand what we were trying to build—the scope, the requirements, and a plan to execute. When you have skin in the game, you’re committed to delivery. That was completely different.”
Forte assembled a senior-level, on-site product team to get the project started at breakneck speed. Because of the project’s complexity and required delivery speed, a team of experienced engineers was essential to meeting the tight deadline.
The team first worked with Sphera’s data scientists to identify the necessary features and data attributes for analytics. From there, the team focused on Sphera’s flexible data structure.
Because each customer’s data structure varied, Forte built a mapping interface. The interface would allow ongoing scheduled data transfer to a unified format for all customers who agreed to participate in the analytics program. The interface also accommodated any future data structures.
Since many SpheraCloud customers are located in Europe, the data used for analytics also had to be compliant with GDPR laws. The Forte team included special features to anonymize and pseudonymize personally identifiable information.
In just four months (nine sprints), Forte was able to map 15 years of relevant data from Sphera’s solutions and aggregate it in a uniform format that could be used to create robust analytics and reports in its SpheraCloud platform.
SpheraCloud is not something we would’ve gotten done without Forte. If we’d tried to do it internally, it wouldn’t have worked out because we wouldn’t have been able to focus on it, given all the things we’re doing. If we’d brought in another vendor, the deliverable would’ve had to have been too concrete. We needed someone to own the project and execute.
Real-time data is crucial in risk management. Access to up-to-the-minute data allows companies to identify potentially time-consuming hazards better. “Real-time data is the heart of what we’re doing,” Marchant said. “It doesn’t do our customers much good if the data is old. It’s like a credit score: If your report is based on personal data from two years ago, it’s not very relevant to you anymore. Being able to work off of the most recent data possible is critical.”
With the tool that Forte built, customers are able to access real-time data that can be used to create customizable reports and predictive analytics for operational performance, industry benchmarking, and planning and decision-making.
“Now, instead of telling people how SpheraCloud can help them, we can show them,” Marchant said. “When a large, multinational company is working with risky situations, they’re reporting incidents, they’re assessing and managing risk, but they also want to know, ‘how are we doing?’ The data that is now available in SpheraCloud gives them that visibility, which checks a big box for our customers.”