North Carolina Ports is implementing Versiant DAaaS to consolidate information from across multiple business systems into a centralized, cloud-based data architecture. The solution provides a single source of truth that delivers accurate, real-time data that allows the organization to quickly analyze operations and make more informed business decisions that improve operational and cost efficiencies within its terminals.
Manual data mining introduces error and threatens operational efficacy
North Carolina Ports undertook a major IT modernization project, which included replacing its terminal operating system (TOS) and installing a new OCR-enabled gate system at its Wilmington and Morehead City port locations. As part of this technology refresh, the port wanted to improve visibility into its business metrics to enable more strategic, data-aligned decisions.
At the time, the organization lacked a cohesive strategy for compiling and reporting information, and relied on manual, arduous processes to collect data from siloed business systems and input it into a spreadsheet. This approach was prone to human error and inconsistencies as business units defined data sets differently. Additionally, the amount of time involved in amassing this data often resulted in outdated information by the time the spreadsheets were completed.
To help address these challenges and seamlessly deliver consistent, verified and easily retrievable information, North Carolina Ports turned to Versiant Corporation, an IT services provider and trusted partner.
DAaaS integrates siloed data for accurate, timely reporting
Versiant recommended its data-analytics-as-a-service (DAaaS) solution, which reliably aggregates data from multiple business systems into a unified, cloud-based data repository to deliver a more holistic view of terminal operations. The automation inherent in the solution eliminates human error and provides point-and-click access to data to foster consistency across all reports. This streamlined process also cuts the time it takes to create reports from hours to minutes, allowing on-demand, real-time access to information—anywhere, anytime and from any connected device. This functionality allows North Carolina Ports to quickly interpret TOS, labor, operations and financial information, and make proactive decisions that facilitate enhanced efficiencies.
“DAaaS eliminates the labor-intensive processes that have hindered the maritime industry’s ability to assess and improve operations in the past,” said Ed Reade, president and CEO and founding partner of Versiant Corporation. “It provides a single source of truth that North Carolina Ports can leverage to confidently track business metrics and KPIs, identify trends, and ultimately, make decisions based on a complete and accurate picture.”
To tailor the DAaaS solution to North Carolina Port’s unique needs, Versiant worked closely with the organization to gain a deep understanding of its business systems, key data sets, and operational challenges. As part of this discovery process, Versiant assessed and verified the data, applying standard definitions across the organization’s business units and systems to ensure the resulting reports would deliver meaningful, consistent information.
The multi-phased implementation strategy began by integrating North Carolina Ports cargo data, TOS, and billing systems. North Carolina Ports has access to this information from a customized, easy-to-navigate dashboard that provides one-click, on-demand reporting of real-time metrics and KPIs. As Versiant continues to build out the solution, this dashboard will provide access to a growing library of self-service reports that can help the port promote additional terminal efficiencies. DAaaS also allows report data to be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet for more granular analyses.
The potential of DAaaS is already garnering praise with North Carolina Ports’ Chief Information Officer, Bill Corcoran, who said in an email, “Just saw the first dashboard. It will help provide our employees the proper tools to perform their jobs successfully and efficiently.”
Its scalable architecture also allows North Carolina Ports to retain a wealth of historical data without impacting performance. This eliminates the need to purge older data, providing a more comprehensive source of information that can better identify long-term trends and improve predictions and forecasting.
For further ease of use, Versiant’s DAaaS solution leverages tools North Carolina Ports already utilizes, including Microsoft Office 365, Power BI and Azure. This also supports savings by eliminating multiple software licensing fees.
A unified database of trusted data strengthens decision-making capabilities
As additional data sets and reports are integrated into the DAaaS solution, North Carolina Ports will enrich visibility into its terminal operations and achieve unlimited opportunities to build value by improving its processes.
One of these key operational metrics will be yard density. For North Carolina Ports—and the maritime industry as a whole—space is an ongoing challenge. It is imperative North Carolina Ports optimizes its use of existing land. The predictive capabilities built into DAaaS will help the organization plan its yard by integrating data points that allow the port to model yard densities prior to vessel arrivals. This capability will allow the Ports Authority to maximize the amount of cargo and number of containers in its yard to boost its revenue.
To further elevate its efficiency—from both a cost and productivity standpoint—North Carolina Ports must minimize the number of moves a container makes while in the terminal and improve turn time. By pulling reports that analyze existing shipment data and historical trends, North Carolina Ports can better plan its yard to improve these benchmarks and the overall customer experience.
“Versiant DAaaS’ integrated approach will help North Carolina Ports better understand what drives its business,” said Reade. “It will provide them with a deep understanding of the ‘why’ behind a metric and allow them to test variables to determine their potential impacts on a KPI.”
With concrete metrics around its capabilities readily available, North Carolina Ports can also better market its efficiencies to existing and potential customers. In a later phase of the project, North Carolina Ports wants the ability to identify existing customers with growth potential as well as trucking companies and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) that may utilize neighboring ports. DAaaS can help North Carolina Ports demonstrate a successful track record of efficiencies to entice these organizations to utilize its ports.
“The visibility DAaaS provides will allow North Carolina Ports to achieve powerful insights and predictive capabilities,” said Reade. “This will fuel strong, data-backed decisions and put North Carolina Ports in a position to succeed for the long-term.”
President and CEO, Founding Partner, Versiant