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How automating pricing with MS PowerApps saved a major telco client time and money

How automating pricing with MS PowerApps saved a major telco client time and money

Steve Avery

Steve Avery

Director
ARQ Group

Matthew Conquest

Matthew Conquest

Principal Consultant
ARQ Group

Swetha Veeranna

Swetha Veeranna

Senior Consultant
ARQ Group

Swati Kute

Swati Kute

Associate Consultant
ARQ Group

Evelyn Mieu

Evelyn Mieu

Associate Consultant
ARQ Group

How automating pricing with MS PowerApps saved a major telco client time and money

Project Background

In the telecommunication industry, price plays an important role in the consumer purchasing decision process. Therefore, it’s essential that telecommunication providers have access to efficient financial modelling tools to be able to swiftly price products and react to competitor pricing changes.

ARQ Group worked with a major telecommunication provider to solve the challenges they had been facing with automating their product pricing process for mobility solution sales through a custom Microsoft PowerApps solution.

The Challenge

ARQ worked with the major telecommunication provider to understand the key challenges they were facing with automating their product pricing process for mobility solution sales.

Summary of the key challenges:

Multiple manual data processes

The organisation was using a spreadsheet-based tool for financial modelling which required numerous manual platforms and spreadsheets to assess the commercial impacts of pricing changes and deals. Subsequently, this resulted in lack of visibility on the status of pricing changes and made it more difficult for employees to quickly price products.

Pricing automation

ARQ understood the clients need to automate the pricing process for mobility solution sales with a custom pricing application, reducing time, costs, and the possibility of errors. The automation was particularly important to the client as they had attempted this twice before with no success.

Solution

ARQ successfully delivered a custom pricing application for our client in only six months using Microsoft PowerApps, which enabled the telecommunication provider to complete all pricing changes and assessments for mobility solution sales in one platform.

This solution was delivered in two phases:

Phase 1 – Proof of concept

During this phase we collaboratively worked with the telecommunication provider to streamline their data processes and deliver a proof of concept for one of their four product portfolios using Microsoft PowerApps. The proof of concept was a great way to showcase the capabilities of Microsoft PowerApps and demonstrate how it could meet the pricing requirements of the telecommunication provider.

Phase 2- Delivery

The success of the proof of concept enabled us to proceed with the full delivery scope for the other products. The delivery plan was executed in fortnightly sprints to optimise efficiency and enable key stakeholder feedback. ARQ was able to successfully deliver the custom pricing application for all four-product portfolios in six months using Microsoft PowerApps.

Results

Through the partnership with ARQ Group, the major telecommunication provider has been able to automate their pricing process and improve the speed and efficiency to which they can make pricing changes for mobility solution sales. Additionally, they can now easily generate reports to swiftly identify the impacts of pricing changes.
 
Operationally this has enabled the organisation to increase their speed to market with pricing changes for mobility solution sales, save costs and maximise resource efficiency.

Team

  • Steve Avery (Director)
  • Matthew Conquest (Principal Consultant)
  • Swetha Veeranna (Senior Consultant)
  • Swati Kute (Associate Consultant)
  • Evelyn Mieu (Associate Consultant)
If you’d like to learn more about how ARQ can solve your business challenges with custom Microsoft PowerApps solutions, contact us today at sales@arq.group
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How we gave back 2 days of work per week to our administration officer with MS Power Automate

How we gave back 2 days of work per week to our administration officer with MS Power Automate

Valerie Sandford

Valerie Sandford

Project Manager
ARQ Group

How we gave back 2 days of work per week to our administration officer with MS Power Automate

At ARQ, we are aware of the negative impact that repetitive tasks can have on our employees. It affects their motivation and mental wellbeing. That’s why we strive to reduce repetitive manual processes wherever possible. 

 

We decided to experiment with Microsoft Power Automate to improve our internal processes, and timesheet reminders appeared to be a perfect use case for us. In this post we will explain how we automated our timesheet reminders with Microsoft Power Automate.  

 

As in many companies, employees must submit their timesheets at the end of each week. For us, a timesheet records the number of hours worked on each project, client, and any leave taken. But a number of us forget to submit our timesheets, and our administration officer sends hundreds of Slack, Microsoft Teams, and emails messages each week to employees and their managers to remind them to submit their timesheets. Our objective was to automate these reminders with Microsoft Power Automate and save valuable time for our administration officer and employees.  

 

The first step was to read a Salesforce report that lists all missing timesheets. It appears that it was easier to read data from Sharepoint than directly from Salesforce, so we automatically exported the report into Sharepoint instead. 

 

To do this, we subscribed to this report twice a week from Salesforce. This allowed us to receive an email containing CSV data regularly during the week. Microsoft Power Automate’s integration with Outlook allowed us to read these emails and copy any attachments into Sharepoint. We could then access any Sharepoint file using the site address and file path: 

The next step was to read each line of the CSV report. The reason we chose to export the report into CSV instead of Excel, was that Power Automate requires the Excel file to have data organized into Tables. We tried to create some tables via Power Automate but we faced other issues (the file got blocked or we couldn’t retrieve the last updated data). However, reading a  CSV file required writing a small amount of code. This step could be daunting for users who are non-developers, which Power Automate clearly targets. Better support for this use-case in the future would help keep Power Automate apps as low-code as possible. 

The third step was to send missing timesheet reminders to the employee. For each missing timecard we were able to send email, Slack, or Microsoft Teams reminders. In order to send Slack messages, we needed to ensure that a slack username format (`firstname.lastname`) was consistently applied across the company. 

The last and final step was to send reminders to an employee’s manager. If your Office365 employee profiles are up to date, Power Automate allows you to retrieve the user profile which includes details of their manager.

Although, we faced a few challenges along the way, this experiment with Microsoft Power Automate successfully allowed us to automate timesheet reminders across the company. Each week more than 200 emails, Slack and Microsoft Teams reminders are sent automatically to employees and managers. It gave back 2 days of works per week to our administration officer who can now focus on what really brings value to the company.

We enjoyed Power Automate’s tight integration with Office365 user profiles, Outlook, Sharepoint, and Microsoft Teams. It also helped highlight areas across the company where we needed to ensure our data was up to date. 

 

If you wish to know more about how we automated this process using Microsoft Power Automate, feel free to contact us at emerging.technologies@arq.group

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Digital Twins are here, we’ll tell you what they are!

Digital Twins are here, we’ll tell you what they are!

Jaysen McGuiness

Jaysen McGuiness

Platform Engineer at ARQ Group

Digital Twins are here, we’ll tell you what they are!

The pace of change and accelerated arrival of Industry 4.0 has forced many areas of business and society in general to forcibly (and quickly) adjust to this new digital way of working. COVID takes some responsibility, but the movement was already underway.

‘Digital Twins’ as a buzz-word is being used across all industries, so this brief introduction to how we see it being used now and into the future will help explain what it really means, and how it can add tangible business value to you.

Digital Twins as a term was most notably used by NASA in the early 2000’s as “a virtual representation in virtual space of a physical structure in real space and the information flow between the two that keeps the former synchronized with the latter” when designing future rockets, before so much as a screwdriver was picked up to design and model how various systems would best work with each other.  

The most simplistic explanation for a Digital Twin is that it can allow you to have a dashboard-level view of your plant, process or operation wherever you are, as a digital overlay of those components. More than just remote camera or sensor monitoring, a Digital Twin becomes an engaged agent, following rules you set to look out for issues even before they happen, to continually learn from and advise on your whole connected ecosystem, and (potentially) actively intervene to avoid dangerous and/or costly issues from occurring.  Further, that intelligence can be used to model ‘what-if’ scenarios to help build better, more economically viable, safer and environmentally cleaner processes.

While still evolving, in more recent implementations it is being used at very small scale levels of cellular analysis by biochemists right through to city and country-wide scales where everything from water and power utilities are using man-made structures and naturally occurring features are being modelled and tracked with IoT sensors, along with what is becoming the most typical type of implementation in manufacturing process monitoring or facilities management.  This type of ‘smart’ integration was the first step into developing a Digital Twin, and when combined with the often significant amount of historical and streamed data that has become so prevalent in our modern world, Digital Twins is the collection and aggregation point to begin to make sense of that ocean of data and real-world telemetry that is now at our disposal, and begin to make it work for us. 

Data on its own is, however, ultimately useless if it is not used, and the art of knowing what is relevant is where the true value of Digital Twins lies. It is more than just having the set of every sensor out there, it’s knowing which ones are providing that useful insights or giving you that critical early warning.  

 

 

The anatomy of a Digital Twin requires consideration of the following points:

  • Understand the business questions/values that are being answered
  • Determine what existing sensors/data is in place, and identify any more that may be required
  • Examine all levels of the business to understand methods of engagement
  • Scope definition to be kept small for first-time implementation
  • Work to deliver tangible business value as early as possible once implemented

There is a catch: attempting to build a large number of complex processes and capture points can take a very long time. While keeping that end-state in mind, the first approach should be to build a thin sliver that has a discrete, demonstrable positive impact and show value, and integrated into existing work practices and environments without significant disruption. This limiting is what will help provide the relevant template for your business or industry and help move the Digital Twin concept from being one that is heavily bespoke and specific to its implementation, to become a question of patterns that can be re-used, the more examples are realised. This will have the effect of commoditising the approach, making it more common while democratising the intelligence and deep knowledge that continues to evolve as your business does.

For most cases, this initial implementation is a 3-6 month window where an outcome can be proven, at a cost around $50k. Once this value is clear, the options and possibilities for further enhancement and prioritising them as relevant becomes clearer, and allows for taking advantage of any new advancements in what is a highly dynamic and changeable digital space.

James Litjens is the Director of Emerging Technologies at ARQ Group. When James isn't leveraging tech for clients or delving into what's hot, he's building his own mobile apps, competing in triathlons and playing the drums in his apartment (at 1 am). Ever-so-considerate, James wears headphones when playing his electric drums. James' real drum kit is stored in a secret location with no neighbours. You can reach James at: james.litjens@arq.group

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Augmented Reality Innovation IoT Virtual Reality

Digital Twins

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

Apollo 13 crew are fighting for survival as their oxygen tanks prematurely explode early in the mission. The world holds its breath as one of the most famous rescue missions unfolds. The new mission: fix life-threatening trouble 320,000 kilometres away in space. But it’s never been done before. Key to the rescue mission: NASA’s digital twin, allowing engineers to test solutions on Apollo 13 from Houston.

Know Everything

From Anywhere

Real-time diagnosis of mission critical equipment located a thousand miles away on a remote outback mine from the comfort of air-conditioned offices in the CBD.

Thousands of sensors: sight, sound, vibration and altitude means you can ‘twin’ anything from anywhere for unprecedented clarity and control over visualisation.

Digital twins enable:

  • Remote Monitoring 
  • Optimise Maintenance Schedules
  • Real-Time Assessments and Troubleshooting 
  • VR Simulations for Technical Support 
  • Staff Training and Onboarding 

See Around the Corner

Smarter, more accurate decision making with the power of foresight through predictive modelling so you can proactively respond to anomalies before they impact your business.

What is a Digital Twin?

A digital replica, a virtual model of a physical (real-world) thing. 

That “thing” can be a process, product or service; be it a building, a vehicle, a train line network, or an entire city. 

Our very own James Litjens built a digital twin of his home whilst in Covid lockdown.

See the full story here 

 

4 Steps To Your Digital Twin

ARQ’s proprietary process to creating your bespoke digital twin happens in our 4 step methodology:

Identify The Ecosystem

Process mine your operations.

Research and recommend optimisations.

Journey map data flows and interactions between the physical and virtual.

Source the IoT you’ll need.

Map your twin strategy. Unlock new capabilities.

Connecting The Ecosystem

Secure your cloud platform.

Centralise your controls.

Modular configuration so new physical sites can be added without impact to back end services.

Serverless deployment means no infrastructure to maintain. Pay only for what you use.

Edge computing: real-time response and immediate action to events.

Visualise and Impact The Ecosystem

Design your service, placing data and cognitive insights into your people, products and processes.

Identity specific user and task workflows.

Machine learning increases real-time efficiencies, monitoring and optimising response times.

Dashboard transparency of system status in real-time, accessed from anywhere.

Real-time monitoring displays unique data for each user.

End-point heartbeats measure health status.

Searchable log history for detailed analysis.

Prediction and Forecasting

Predictive maintenance monitors real-time sensors to build a cost-benefit maintenance schedule.

Anomaly detection in fleet vehicles identifies non-maintenance related issues.

Near-time schedule optimisation through machine learning (ML). Unforeseen events happen, ML automatically recalibrate schedules and forecasts.

We build rich physical models of equipment and systems for scenario planning and simulation, augmenting your data driven forecasting. Predictive system testing at scale.

New Capabilities

Endless Possibilities

Heavy Industry

Manufacturers simulate machinery (yet built) by replicating real-world physics (and wear and tear) to determine which parts would likely fail first, and when. This opens-up a world of preventative maintenance intelligence helping avoid costly downtime for industries such as mining.

Health Care

Hospitals track infection agents via real-time epidemiology data identifying who is at risk by contact. Patient organs digital twins allow doctors to test different care delivery approaches and prevent conditions that are years apart, enabling patient-specific surgery training to prepare for complex invasive procedures.

Farming

Data collection detects deviations in normal farming practice. Dairy monitors on cattle detect heat and health analysis, visualising dairy production inconsistencies, enabling action plans to correct diary flow.

Natural Disasters

In times of natural disasters like hail or floods, digital twins provide real-time information on flood levels and hail damage in precise locations. Predictive modelling alerts the infrastructure in jeopardy, allowing immediate action by deploying resources exactly when and where needed.

Book a Free Digital Twins consultation today

Digital Twins: Industry 4.0

The next big thing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here: Digital Twins – powering the development of new products, processes and the optimisation of existing, enabling:

  • Proactive Planning
  • Operational Efficiencies
  • Reduced Costs

Finding a Grain of Rice in a Big City

Woolworths Smart Deliveries

Woolworths smart delivery platform allows real time tracking of orders, trucks and baskets through a combination of physical sensors, smartphone apps for drivers, intelligent middleware, and a visualisation dashboard for Customer Support Agents. 

Finding a grain of rice delivered across any big city in Australia is child’s play with digital twins for logistics. 

Posties See the Unseen

Virtual Reality, Alexa and the Unreal Gaming Engine

Parcelbot

Providing address intel for improved CX and delivery optimisation

A proof of concept (PoC) explored in partnership with Australia Post using VR, Amazon’s Alexa and the Unreal gaming engine. 

The PoC: create a digital twin environment for Posties to capture and surface important information along their delivery routes, including customer preferences like: safe to leave parcel unattended, locked gate, and protective dog.

Global Mining Giant

(We'd love to tell you who, but we signed an NDA)

Reduced Downtime

Methane release means downtime, and downtime costs millions when you’re one of the world’s largest mining companies. The mission: investigate factors leading to methane release to reduce downtime. By creating a digital twin we unified data assets, consolidated and cross-linked geospatial and operational mine data. The outcome? Significant reduction in unplanned downtime resulting in substantial ROI.

Route Optimisation

In an open cut mine, efficiency improvements of a shovel-truck circuit can lead to significant ROI. ARQ implemented a new way to model circuit operations, based on cross-linking disparate vehicle, shift, sensor and operational data, resulting in improvements in circuit efficiency and supervisor decision making.