PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a global professional services firm, and one of the world’s “Big Four” accountancy firms.
It has 25 UK offices, all of which are served by an IT department based in London’s Embankment Place. CIO Dominique Moreau joined the company as an IT director for its French operations in 1996, before moving to PwC UK in 2001.
Today, one of Moreau’s challenges is to help the company harness big data analytics, although he still has reservations about the concept.
“Telefonica [owner of mobile operator O2] is planning to sell anonymised locations of their users and that could prove to be very valuable for retail or more generally in the business-to-consumer sector, but as PwC is in the business-to-business arena it is less obvious that big data would be of value for us,” he says.
One area of the business where big data analytics is achieving tangible results is PwC’s forensic services practice.
“One of our clients called us recently to investigate a fraud, and the forensic group said ‘Just give us the data, don’t tell us what the fraud is’. They analysed the data and found the fault [which allowed the fraud to happen], and they also found another fault that the client didn’t know about. That shows the power of big data analysis for fraud,” Moreau says.
The iPad experience
For the past four months Moreau has been overseeing an ambitious mobility project.
“We are using [mobile device management firm] Good Technology for phase one of the project, and for phase two we are developing something more advanced than the Good platform – we’ll be switching to MobileIron,” he says.
Moreau says MobileIron offers “more functionality”, like the ability to use native email on the iPhone or iPad.
“Phase two is more ambitious, it’s what we call the iPad experience. We want to give access to native email and also allow staff and partners to edit documents on their iPads, use and share attachments seamlessly using a Dropbox equivalent that we are building internally, and also be able to annotate PDFs. We believe that for partners and directors, the iPad will be able to replace the laptop in some circumstances,” he says.
The firm currently has 3,000 Apple devices assigned to the project, but Moreau expects that 50 per cent of PwC UK’s 17,000 employees will be part of the scheme eventually.
Phase two of the scheme will also see Moreau’s team develop and implement new applications for the iPad.
“We’re working on applications such as time-recording, expenses and access to specific parts of our back-office systems. For example, a CRM app on either the iPhone or iPad will be part of it, allowing partners and clients to update contacts and opportunities straight after meetings,” Moreau explains.