Open Credo

Honouring Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with fast access to ethical supply chain data via Google Compute Engine.

Sedex is a global membership organisation. Its collaborative platform is home to extensive data on ethical supply chains, and is used by more than 50,000 members in over 150 countries. Companies use it to manage their obligations to labour rights, health and safety, the environment and business ethics. Sedex helps reduce the burden on suppliers in their drive to meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethical auditing targets.

 

The Challenge

Sedex faced an exponential load on its Business Intelligence applications due to the skyrocketing number of suppliers using its data exchange. Built on a third party platform, the incumbent system lacked flexibility, and as a result was unable to cope with the increasing volume of data it needed to process. Additionally, Sedex wanted to broaden its data platform to include additional sources of information relevant to suppliers; whilst improving the ability to scrutinise multiple data sources, and allow for better analysis of trends.

“Since we’re a data platform provider, it’s essential that we are perceived as best in class for CSR and compliance. Average will never be good enough,” said José Copovi-King, Director of Products and Services at Sedex. “We wanted to move to the next level and offer Big Data services.”

The Solution

Our partnership with Sedex began with some Discovery work. This surfaced some specific use cases:

  • A business need to manage, store, analyse and disseminate huge volumes of data.
  • The requirement for failure resilience.
  • A desire to use open source technologies.
  •  The need to design and define a suitable data processing platform.

Working closely the Sedex team, allowed us to outline a fit-for-purpose solution. This combined Neo4j, Google Compute Engine and Hortonworks Data Platform, a completely open-source technology. It was determined that Google Cloud Platform provided the most cost-effective and reliable option, with more broadband per pound. And Hortonworks made it easy to scale the data storage and computation needs, to address the increasing demands on Sedex’s system. Lastly, a pipeline was built using Hive. Data cubes from Hive queries would be stored in a PostgreSQL database for fast access by existing reporting technologies.

During our four-month collaboration, we made use of agile working practices to iterate and deliver this solution:

By working together, we were able to ensure a transfer of skills, empowering Sedex’s own people to operate their new platform independently.

“We have the ability to produce large data sets very quickly and there are huge retailers in the U.S. who could very well become clients just because of that,” said José Copovi-King. “This is a huge step change for retailers and we’re now out in front of the competition in the CSR environment.”

“If a client has a specific requirement, we can rapidly meet that demand,” said José. “We had a request for a data security questionnaire and were able to carry this out very quickly by collecting data online. We can also design and sell our own reports – if we want to produce trend reports or benchmark companies against their peers we can now do so.”

The Outcome

As a result of our partnership, we were able to leave the Sedex team with:

  • The ability to fulfil clients’ bespoke data requests at short notice.
  • A 40% reduction in costs via the introduction of Google Compute Engine.
  • Faster turnaround – down from hours to milliseconds – of complex, digestible reports.

Sedex now has a sophisticated, flexible, industry-leading data processing platform. They can now manage their own multitude of datasets, design reports and deliver on-demand. These improvements have given them a clear competitive advantage in the marketplace.