Leighton Contractors has kicked off a business intelligence platform upgrade and trials of ruggedised tablets to keep field workers out of the office and closer to work sites.
The company planned to boost its Oracle BI suite with a real-time capability that Oracle had bought from a company called Golden Gate in 2009. The upgrade would take place early next year.
Leighton Contractors hoped it would provide project management and payroll employees with the real-time information they required.
"BI for us is totally changing that cultural aspect away from reporting to analysis of the data," strategy, applications and planning manager Sharmila Tsourdalakis said.
"When we put up the strategy there wasn't someone saying 'I want BI' - that wasn't a business need - the business need was we're having a few pains around our reporting... what we put forward was a strategy around BI to give them more than they asked for."
Leighton Contractors ran an Oracle environment that also included the eBusiness suite, customer relationship management (CRM), universal content management (UCM) and WebCenter.
With the exception of CRM, which was deployed as software-as-a-service from an offshore data centre, all Oracle applications were provisioned by Leighton subsidiary and managed services provider Infoplex.
A core focus of Tsourdalakis in coming months was to rationalise legacy applications in an attempt to migrate more easily to an Oracle footprint.
Her team had begun deploying a company-wide, user-customisable portal that served up dashboards from each Oracle product to end-users.
The set of portals, established over two months, followed a new attempt at four-week "sprint" cycles - rather than standard 18-month development processes - to more quickly deliver the application with closer feedback from staff.
"Our focus was to move away from these 18-month projects because they [users] actually want to see something in bite-sized chunks and you're going to feel that it's changing," she said.
"We used a proof of concept approach and every four weeks it was a sprint, everyone had value and it had a business aspect to it."
Tablets in play
In future, the portals would likely tie into a mobility project that would see all Leighton Contractors field workers provided a tablet for site work.
Tsourdalakis said the company hoped for a device-agnostic solution in future so workers could use their own tablets, smartphones or laptops.
However, poor screen performance in direct sunlight had led the company to trial 80 Motion F5 ruggedised tablets with foremen and engineers in the company's construction, and industrial and energy divisions.
"We were finding that some of our people felt the need to spend more time at the PC than onsite ... so this is going to give them that extra capability to do that," she said.
Workers would be able to use the devices for lot management on projects, regardless of whether they were connected to a network.
Once trials were complete, the same capability would likely be made available across the company, including to Leighton's telecommunications division.
"There's quite a lot of shifting around IT so we plan to deliver more that's available to them at the front-end," she said.
James Hutchinson travelled to Oracle OpenWorld 2011 as a guest of Oracle.