Fueling the digital transformation of BW LPG

Image courtesy of Trent Pickering

Given today’s advancements in harnessing data to its fullest potential, outdated systems and repetitive processes simply have no place in the modern enterprise landscape.

For BW LPG, which is in the business of shipping liquefied petroleum gas, time is of the essence. However, this was not always the case.

According to Pda Phanit, General Manager, Business Controlling at BW LPG, it took them a long time to produce and process financial data back in 2016.

“Every month, (the) finance (department) would produce a comprehensive report that is about an inch thick. Every month I have to publish this book, and it takes about two weeks after the monthly close, so it’s almost the end of the month when we are able to publish the previous month’s comprehensive report. So most of the time, the data is stale. Leaks happen. And no one can act on it because it’s too late,” Phanit said during a media briefing hosted by Rackspace Technology.

Because the oil shipping business is extremely volatile due to external factors, such as geopolitical tensions, BW LPG needed immediate data on where the company stood financially.

It came to a point that different departments were crunching the same data for the same purpose, leading to the production of conflicting reports.

“No one can wait for the finance (department’s) report once a month to assess how we’re doing,” Phanit said.

Leveraging analytics

Faced with the growing complexity surrounding their internal data processes, BW LPG turned to Rackspace Technology’s Just Analytics data platform.

“We started engaging with Just Analytics, but (there were) some reservations (at first). Fortunately, Just Analytics has proved themselves to be a good partner for BW LPG. And we have been working with them ever since. A lot of different projects that have happened and a lot of processes are still being improved,” Phanit shared.

“We get very valuable insights through this process. We also enable our people to add more value by removing repetitive tasks and processes, and free up time for them to spend on analysis, to spend on thinking about process improvement, operational performance. With the data that we have, we can actually track how these improvements affect the business,” he continued.

One major improvement following the partnership was that BW LPG no longer waited on their finance department every month, as they can already access granular data that is updated on a daily basis.

The LPG shipping company also installed smart technology on one of their shipping vessels, eliminating blind spots from their daily operations, Phanit said.

“What this enables our shore-based offices to do is monitor everything on the vessel. With this information, combined with wind data and current sea data, we’re able to navigate the vessel more efficiently, which saves bunker fuel. So we’re saving money and also burning less greenhouse gases,” he explained.

When it comes to analytics, undertaking a task usually entails a realisation that an individual or an organisation knows very little than what was previously assumed, remarked Shwetank Sheel, Director, Data Services Sales at Rackspace Technology.

“Organisations that succeed do so because they know that they don’t know enough. Organisations that fail think they can produce a report, and that’s the be-all and end-all,” he noted.

However, successful businesses, said Sheel, are the ones who act on that intelligence to solve problems.

“You can build applications that improve the business process. Usually people will take off, build the application that will produce the data, then analyse. In the age of digital transformation, transformation starts from the inside, measuring the inside, and then going through the continuous process. You start with the data, you transform, you build applications to improve your process, and it’s a continuous cycle. It never stops,” Sheel said.

Working with cloud

Given that many organisations have already jumped onto the cloud, there are a few pointers to consider before making the big leap, especially that the hybrid work model has now become the norm, observed Srini Koushik, Group CTO of Rackspace Technology.

“What hybrid means from a cloud and cloud enablement technologies (perspective is that) there is really no safe place. From a security standpoint, your attack surface has increased,” Koushik said.

“My first CIO job was a lot easier because everyone came into the office. I can put a perimeter around it (office) and protect all of the assets,” he added.

Nevertheless, Rackspace has set out to offer full-stack solutions that cover cloud platform, applications, data, and security, and is constantly working with its customers to “meet them where they are” on their cloud journey.

On top of this, Koushik emphasised the importance of ensuring a secure public cloud environment for their customers.

“When we talk about cybersecurity in the public cloud space, there’s the opportunity for us to click through zero-trust principles. In the old environment, the nature of the security was driven by the location you ran, like if I came into an enterprise, everything was assumed to be secure,” said the Rackspace CTO.

“The challenge was always, because it’s device based, and it’s location based, it is what it is,” said Koushik. “Now, when you take that and think about where we are today, in a hybrid world, what are you talking about? What location? Because it’s not (just) the office, (or) the coffee shop— you’re working in other (places). It’s not device space, because you could be on a million different devices. That’s why people started talking about zero trust.”

“(In) every interaction, you’ve got to be able to validate that the person is who they say they are, and whether or not they have access permission. The only way you do that in a hybrid environment is by embedding it into the foundation. When you embed it (zero trust) into the foundation, it’s no longer location-based for everything that runs on top of it. So we not only think cybersecurity is an important pillar, it is actually the foundation,” he concluded.