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PwC builds M&A data platform on Azure

Accelerates time to market, streamlines analysis, deploys globally

PwC Australia has developed the Decision Analytics Platform, built on Microsoft Azure, which automates and accelerates the due diligence and deal analytics work underpinning mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity.

The organisation has used the new platform on more than 150 transactions already. The list of deals includes some iconic Australian businesses. A number of PwC network firms have also deployed the platform.  PwC expects to complete more than 400 deals using the platform in FY21.

Although global M&A deal volumes declined by 13 per cent in the first half of 2020[1] compared to the previous year, there are signs of a robust recovery by the end of 2020 with more than $US1.86 trillion of global deals completed through to the end of October2[2].

PwC’s Decision Analytics Platform has been designed to help M&A teams properly assess the value of a business, and can also be used post-transaction to help the new owners make better data-informed business decisions.

In the case of the recent My Muscle Chef purchase by Quadrant, the platform was used to ingest historic financial information from multiple sources covering both the online direct to consumer channel as well as their sales through bricks and mortar retailers. Using the platform as a single source of information then supported PwC’s deal analytics and financial diligence workstreams to support Quadrant in a successful transaction.


[2] Mergermarket Global and Regional M&A Report 1Q – 3Q20

Using the platform has transformed the experience we are able to deliver to clients. We have better equipped our teams and our clients to work collaboratively to make more confident data-informed decisions, whilst increasing our speed of delivery, which is important in the fast paced world of M&A – Rob Silverwood, PwC Australia Deals Leader

John Haughton, PwC’s partner tasked with driving the use of data analytics to help clients with M&A said “When we started building the platform, we made ourselves our own first customer. We needed to deliver great client outcomes every time and always pushed the art of the possible in getting value out of data to help get the deal done. That helped us to react quickly to feedback and continue to evolve the solution at pace. It’s great to see the vision of blending data democratisation with community innovation come alive around scalable technology.

Charlie Pickett, PwC Director and lead on the Decision Analytics Platform said; “The killer use-case and benefits are having a single source of truth for data, a consistent platform experience for our clients across projects, and the ability to give direct external access. For example, we often give access to DAP and the data that sits within it, to our customers and their advisors so they can actually pull out their own analysis, all from the same curated and securely managed set of information.”

“Previously, if we’d been given a 30 million row point of sale dataset from our client, we might’ve said, ‘Actually, that’s quite a big dataset’. Now we just ingest it and move on.”

PwC has been refining the platform over the last few years, experimenting with other cloud providers before consolidating into the current Microsoft Azure based solution in order to leverage the broader Azure ecosystem.

Rachel Bondi, Chief Partner Officer, Microsoft Australia said; “By building its Decision Analytics Platform on Azure, PwC has totally transformed the way its teams are able to support clients engaged in M&A activity in Australia and around the world – assured of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in innovative new services and products that PwC can integrate to keep its Platform on the leading edge for years to come.

“By making the Decision Analytics Platform available to clients as a managed service, PwC also creates new revenue opportunities, working alongside clients on bespoke analytics and AI infused capabilities. It’s a great example of tech intensity – that powerful combination of digital capacity and digital capability that drives success in modern economies.”

To build the Decision Analytics Platform PwC has leveraged the Azure stack broadly – using Azure Active Directory for authentication, Azure Storage for raw data, Azure Databricks to handle data transformation work, Azure SQL to store the transformed data, and Azure Analysis Services to layer on analytical calculations. They use Traffic Manager, multi-geo App Services and Content Delivery Networks, to ensure a great experience wherever the team sits globally. They use Key Vault for securing credentials, Event Triggers for the integration between the different parts of the apps and Cosmos DB.

Given the global deployment of the solution PwC has also benefitted from Azure’s scale and reach with 61 international data centres which means they can support clients who have stringent data sovereignty concerns.

The flexibility of the platform means it is also being offered to PwC clients as a managed service, with the option to build additional analytics, targeted dashboards and machine learning models either prior to a transaction, or once it completes.

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