Inspire 2020: The Neal Analytics approach for purpose-driven digital transformation

From strategy to design and execution, Neal's unique approach enables purpose-driven transformation.

Inspire 2020: The Neal Analytics approach for purpose-driven digital transformation

Executive summary

In 2011, Neal Analytics was “spun out” of a strategy consulting company comprised of former Booz Allen, McKinsey, and Bain personnel. Our founding thesis: Data science needs a laser-focus on creating business value to succeed.

For nearly a decade since its founding, Neal Analytics has provided high-value consulting services by leveraging our expertise and Microsoft technologies to help customers in the digital transformation of their business with data.

Our approach

Given the many options available through the cloud and IoT, it is easy for customers to get lost in all the options or get mired in analysis-paralysis.

With years of experience guiding Fortune-1000 companies, Neal Analytics acts as a beacon of clarity and confidence. Neal uses Envisioning Workshops and a hypothesis-driven approach to drive to answers efficiently.

In addition, we adhere to the powerful “Strategy-Design-Execution (SDE)” framework to ensure connectivity between all departments and personnel to increase the digital transformation success.

Of course, that doesn’t mean much if all this work stays in a vacuum.  Here are a few examples of recent projects where Neal brought its unique approach to help customers achieve real-world goals:

Autonomous systems and Project Bonsai

Building on years of AI expertise, we further developed our deep reinforcement learning competency, a technology at the root of autonomous systems solutions such as Microsoft’s Project Bonsai, technology, gaining traction with two manufacturing giants, that were looking to optimize their manufacturing and production processes.

One company wanted to auto-optimize the controller settings for their production process. The other sought a way to automate the movement of large items. Both of these challenges were perfect for Bonsai. Neal’s team assisted and implemented this technology, leveraging our AI expertise and leveraging Microsoft’s pre-release autonomous systems technology.

Intelligent sequencing and Azure Service Fabric

Neal worked alongside the analytics leadership of a large, international coffeehouse chain, to provide a solution that could optimize customer orders across in-store, drive-through, and mobile-app channels. The intelligent order sequencing solution was built with Neal’s AI and ML expertise and leveraged Microsoft technologies like Azure Service Fabric to maximize operationalization.

Neal drove further use of the Databricks platform to analyze data and scale algorithms, focusing on optimizing mobile orders for lower customer wait times. To scale this solution across the customer’s business, Neal leveraged Azure Service Fabric, and the company’s existing Azure Sphere & IoT. This enabled Neal’s algorithm to be run at the edge, backed by Azure, and scale through the coffeehouse chain’s massively diverse store environment.

Intelligent Agents and Azure DevOps

Neal became involved with a mass transit provider and leveraged the latest Microsoft technology to drive increased revenue for the customer.

Though Neal’s digital consulting, which focused on identifying, quantifying, and recommending a solution for the customer’s needs, this engagement evolved quickly to an instantiation of CI/CD on Azure DevOps.

Neal continues to evolve the customer’s transportation intelligent agent (bot) platform, with the primary business goal of creating frictionless transit. One key to this platform’s value in frictionless transit is its ability to proactively notify transit users who are about to run out of funding on their transit cards, and then effectively automating sales.

Intelligent Edge with Intel

Neal’s deep partnership with Microsoft has led to expertise in Microsoft AI, as well as deep technical knowledge around AI inferencing. This inferencing expertise focused on FPGAs has enabled Neal to partner very deeply with both Intel (the OEM for the bulk of Azure Stack Edge) and Microsoft on creating solutions fit for making edge AI deployments more intelligent.

Through an engagement with a large retailer, this new technology is being deployed with Neal operating as an AI advisory partner by tuning algorithms, recommending physical store set-up of devices, ensuring that AI scenarios demonstrate appropriate ROI for the customer’s investment.

This engagement resulted in a platform-level decision for Azure Stack Edge with the retailer, and we’re excited to see the impact of the intelligent edge – especially as COVID-19 continues to change the way customers shop.


End-to-end data estate modernization


One of North America’s largest integrated energy companies approached Neal Analytics after an executive-level presentation where we presented a vision to modernize their retail business. Neal was selected to advise on data estate modernization strategy (from datacenter to cloud). We saw how Azure technology could help solve many of the customer’s urgent problems and helped the customer create a digital strategy to modernize.

As a result, Neal now has a nimble team focused on implementing these proposed changes, modernizing their data warehouse in the cloud, implementing Azure Data Lake, and transforming the customer’s application infrastructure using tools like Azure Synapse, Cosmos DB, and Azure ML.

Another customer, a video game company, found themselves in need of a different kind of data estate modernization. One of their smaller start-up teams that provides telemetry insights needed an assist with a more scalable data platform, modernizing their use of Application Insights and providing deeper tooling with Azure Databricks and Power BI. With the Neal team’s expertise in data and Microsoft technologies, this customer was able to start the journey of implementing a better data environment with a modern architecture that could support them for years to come.

Success with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing

A leading player in the global beverage industry with a portfolio of more than 50 premium brands, was looking for a way to personalize their marketing for bartenders across the world.

To achieve this, Neal Analytics designed a refined approach to customer-centricity through personalized “360° touches.” It implemented CustomerIQ,  a customer data platform solution for marketing optimization and brand growth. CustomerIQ matches well with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, allowing us to drive even more value and efficiency by leveraging both Customer Insights and the Dynamics 365 Marketing platform.

The resulting campaigns, customer segmentation, and training drove a spike in increased engagement and purchases while offering new ways to personalize their company message for a growing audience.


Neal Analytics engages with executives in the world’s largest brands with confidence and conviction to design and drive digital transformation roadmap success.

Neal’s consultants bring an applied, battle-tested approach to transformation design and execution that helps reduce risk and drives to higher ROI. Neal’s expertise, in partnership with Microsoft, helps companies gain confidence in digital transformation, accelerate modern infrastructure with Azure adoption, and create business value for customers