Contidis gets the data it needs to open a superstore chain in Angola.

Connecting Power BI to SAP HANA to make sure a $400M superstore chain in Angola always makes the right decisions.

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The client:

Contidis is an investment group building the Candando superstore chain in Angola. With over US $400 million in investment capital, Candando means not only big business but also thousands of new jobs, the livelihood of local producers and general access to groceries in a struggling economy. Contidis plans on opening 10 Candando superstores by 2021 but its drive is built on the back of a cautious philosophy: open a store, learn what works and what needs to change, adjust and repeat.

The problem:

Before opening its first Candando store, Contidis started building a business intelligence (BI) model with tools in its SAP for Retail solution. However, IT staff was taking too long to build reports and data was so scarce business users weren’t able to make informed decisions. The application was far from matching Contidis’s ambition and holding the entire business back.

The challenge:

Far from pleased with the setbacks caused by their BI model, Contidis asked DevScope to design a Power BI solution that could handle all their data needs: an agile platform that could grow as their users move from one challenge to the next.

Luckily, DevScope’s approach was not that different from Contidis’s:

“We like to start small, listen to users, modify the solution in order to solve their problems and scale it to ensure stability.”

– Rui Romano, BI Team Manager at DevScope

Excel was the tool of choice to connect Power BI with data from Contidis’s SAP application, which ran on Amazon Web Services (AWS). DevScope proceeded to connect Power BI to the SAP HANA warehouse in AWS and, within 1 month, over 100 employees at Contidis – including managers and store personnel – were using the BI solution to include data from store inventory, product pricing, purchases and promotions in their reports.

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There was still plenty of work to do, though: users were experiencing slower response times, file location was making mobile access to reports a hassle and Power BI couldn’t handle data comparison between Excel files and those in the SAP HANA database. In order to increase performance and circumvent these issues, Contidis needed a single source of information for business intelligence. DevScope opted for building a data warehouse with Azure SQL Database and create a custom PowerShell ETL framework to move data to the cloud. This solution also allowed to configure refresh rates for every table in the warehouse so Candando could access sales data by the hour.

In order to control data access, DevScope implemented a dynamic security model with Azure Analysis Services and Azure Active Directory, ensuring customized BI-access privileges for every user. We also introduced standardized reports and dashboards that help optimize operations (such as sales comparisons that help determine how discounts drive revenue) as well as alerts for unusual balances in order to detect fraud.

Competitive pricing can make or break a new player in the retail market and in order to understand how Candando’s value stacked against its competitors, DevScope built a handy Power BI solution that allowed employees to scan a product’s barcode at any retailer and instantly compare its price to Candando’s using their smartphones. In the near future, this feature will also be able to send data to the Azure warehouse and immediately integrate comparative pricing on a sales report.

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These reports allow users to filter views and add the information of their choice such as store location, date, transaction, product, inventory levels, and product orders. Since the solution is so scaleable, Contidis can easily add more users and reports, and save data for the long term, gaining useful insights on trends.

“The first Candando store has been open for less than a year. We already have 14 million records in Azure and adding information about 10.000 sales transactions every day. Even though our data is growing exponentially, we can continue to scale the cloud-based Power BI model to meet long-term requirements.”

– Renato Correia, CTO, Contidis

Automated alerts for IT staff and business users can also be configured with Power BI. For example, if a product isn’t selling, the appropriate people will be alerted in order to act on it as soon as possible. Among the many advantages of using Power BI and Azure Analysis Services is the solutions’ scaleability. Just like Contidis’s expansion plans, DevScope’s solutions started small and scaled up as needed. This allowed Contidis to pay for only what they needed and save money in the process.

“We noticed people weren’t using the service in the middle of the night so we just deployed a script that automatically scales Azure services up and down and turns them on and off depending on traffic and usage. Just by turning our BI service off for 4 hours a night, we’ll save an estimate 3.600€/year. This may seem insignificant to some, but it’s very relevant to us. This change supports our energy-efficient culture and in the long run these savings will be substantial.”

– Renato Correia, CTO, Contidis

The results:

Contidis opened the first Candando superstore in May 2016. Its success has been replicated twice and over 1.000 new jobs were created in Angola in the process. Contidis’s plan is to open an additional 7 stores by 2021.
Thanks to Power BI and Azure, Contidis’s IT staff spends less time creating reports and business users can access all the data they need in order to run their stores and fulfill the company’s ambition.

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“Since we implemented our Power BI solution in Azure, we’ve noticed a big improvement in business insight and efficiency. Our IT staff spends less time creating reports and our business users have a lot of autonomy, accessing and creating BI whenever they need to, be it from our portal or using mobile devices, including phones and tablets. Our continued growth is due to many factors – and Power BI is one of them.”

– Renato Correia, CTO, Contidis

Products used:

Main team:

  • Rui Romano – Architect
  • Joana Barbosa – Senior Developer & Team Lead
  • Fabio Batista – Developer
  • Andreia Graça – Developer
  • Bruno Ferreira – Developer & Trainer
  • Luis Tiago – Intern/Junior

Other collaborators:

  • Ruben Cunha – Developer
  • João Pires – Developer

References:

 

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Merry Christmas

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Once again we would like to thank all our employees, their families, our customers, and our partners for another amazing year.  We wish this Christmas card will be a good excuse to turn off every online device and we all dedicate this time to our family and friends.

We are looking forward to an even more challenging 2018, but in this special season, we just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

SQL Saturday is back in town!

October 28th is SQL Saturday day and once again Porto will host one of the most important meetings for users of this platform and for all of those who wish to know more about SQLServer ‘s  ecosystem.

Pre-Conference – October 27th (Friday)

Pedro Sousa and Rui Quintino will carry out an awesome workshop on “Data Science with Azure Machine Learning Workbench & Docker Containers for Data Platform” and you are more than welcome to join them. To register for the training go to Weventual.

Rui Quintino Lead Data Researcher at DevScope. Rui works with Microsoft data related technologies since 1998 and currently leads Data Research team at DevScope building and improving products powered by Data, Machine Learning, Deep Learning & Artificial Intelligence. Beyond data technologies, Rui also has past background in web, mobile  & security and he likes to mix all of these to get the most out of Microsoft’s Data Platform and make the world a better place through the use of data.

Pedro Sousa lives in Porto, Portugal and he currently works as a Systems Engineer at DevScope. Started working with SQL Server at version 6.5 and although DBA is not his primary role, always had a particular interest in it. Nowadays one of his main focus is Microsoft Azure and integration with on-premises networks, working from the copper wire to the Cloud.

Conference – October 28th

We will be attending many other sessions, and also leading some other. Please join Rui Romano, Joana Barbosa, and Pedro Sousa at their respective lectures (Full Schedule)

http://www.sqlsaturday.com/685/eventhome.aspx

See you there!

Join us at Integrate 2017 USA

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INTEGRATE 2017 is the premier integration conference for anyone who is working in Microsoft Integration space. If you missed the chance to attend the London event this year – event that also had the presence of our own Sandro Pereira as speaker, for the fifth consecutive time – join us at INTEGRATE 2017 USA at the Microsoft Redmond Campus. This event has Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President for the Cloud and Enterprise division at Microsoft as the keynote speaker and it will be a great opportunity for you to interact with the Microsoft Product groups and employees alongside with Microsoft Integration MVPs.

And this year for the first time, the USA Edition will count with the presence of Sandro has a speaker. His talk, “BizTalk Server Fast and Loud”, will address a hardcore BizTalk topic that will address the following question: How can you optimize/tuning your BizTalk environment for performance. Optimizing your BizTalk Server installation is not an easy thing to do because it affects several layers and skills. This topic is very well documented by the product group but the problem is that it is very extensive and complex. Sandro presentation will aim to guide you through the most important steps, operations or task you need to do in order to boost the performance of BizTalk that you can adjust or follow according to your needs because, depending on your infrastructure, this can be a straightforward operation or a very extensive and hard operation.

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This is a 3-day event covering technologies like On-premise, Cloud and Hybrid Integration, with 29 speakers from Microsoft and the Integration community & key sessions from the Microsoft Product Group. The complete technology stack for this year’s INTEGRATE event includes Integration Architecture, BizTalk Server, Host Integration Server (IBM Connectivity), Logic Apps, API Management, Azure Service Bus, Event Hubs & Event Grid, Azure IoT, Azure Functions, Azure Gateway (Hybrid), Microsoft Flow, and Microsoft Power Apps.

For all the reasons described above, and because Integration is a core part of our business, DevScope decided to sponsor this amazing event that will happen in the Microsoft Redmond Campus.

Have a look at the full agenda here: https://www.biztalk360.com/integrate-2017-usa.

Join us to foster water innovation!

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Porto Water Innovation Week 2017 will take place from 24 to 30 September – in the Alfândega Porto Congress Centre. Our own Catarina Ricca will carry out a tech talk about “PBI ScoreCards – A new way of looking at business management indicators“. It will be the first tech talk of more than 35 at the  EIP WATER CONFERENCE 2017 event.  So “Join us to foster water innovation!“.

Here you can find the Tech Talk’s full program: http://portowaterinnovationweek.eu/storage/app/media/Tech%20Talks_Schedule.pdf

You can also visit us in the exhibition area, at booth nr.7 and learn more about our PBI ScoreCards solution and the success story at Águas do Porto. Be our guest and learn more about how we can help you increase successfully your business with PBI ScoreCards.

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PBI ScoreCards – On track with your strategy

PBI ScoreCards is a platform that enables companies to easily setup scorecards and KPI’s, generating dynamic performance reports using Power BI.

Our platform was conceived to help your organization to automate the generation and filling process without overcoming the basic rules of strategic planning and management.

For more information visit our site: pbiscorecards.com

 

EPIA2017: AI specialists joining us here in Porto.

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Philipp Slusallek, Francesco Bonchi e Simon M. Lucas will join many other speakers here in Porto between September 5th and 8th.

EPIA is a well-established international conference on Artificial Intelligence, supported by Portuguese Association for Artificial Intelligence (APPIA). The purpose of the conference is to promote research in AI and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists, and engineers in related disciplines.

Rui Quintino, our lead researcher on AI, will be presenting his journey from Reports & Dashboards to applied Artificial Intelligence (full agenda here).

The event is being organized by APPIA.pt, LIACC/UP, LIAAD/INESC, GECAD/ISEP and we are proud to support the conference too.

You can also read our city’s announcement here (PT):
Inteligência Artificial traz ao Porto alguns dos melhores especialistas do mundo

We are recruiting talent … and we challenge you to join us!

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Estamos à procura de  pessoas excepcionais, motivadas e apaixonadas pela tecnologia. Na DevScope incentivamos o desenvolvimento de novas competências, tanto individuais como profissionais e pautamo-nos pelo equilíbrio entre a vida profissional e pessoal de cada colaborador. Reunimos aqui no Porto um ambiente único para o crescimento e formação dos melhores profissionais em tecnologia Microsoft.

Queremos reforçar a equipa com o preenchimento das seguintes vagas:

  • Fullstack .NET Web Developer

    • ASP.NET MVC;
    • WEB API (REST/SOAP);
    • Entity Framework e/ou Code-First;
    • Dependency Injection;
    • HTML5, Jquery, AngularJs e/ou KnockOut;
    • SQL Server
  • Project Manager

    • Experiência profissional de mais de 3 anos em gerir e controlar de projecto;
    • Garantir a execução das actividades, cumprimento de prazos, gestão de risco e  custos;
    • Capacidade para sugerir soluções e estratégias de negócio
  • SharePoint Developer

    • Experiência com MS SharePoint (2010, 2013 ou 2016)
    • Experiência com .NET Framework (C# and ASP.NET), REST e SQL Server;
    • Entity Framework e/ou Code-First;
    • Dependency Injection;
    • HTML5, Jquery, AngularJs e/ou KnockOut;
    • Conhecimento em React e SPFx será valorizado

Se reúnes estes requisitos e queres fazer parte desta equipa, envia-nos o teu CV para hrteam@devscope.net