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.

fb_candando

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.

11-candando-compras-3

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.

08-candando-servicos

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.

07-compras-candando

“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:

 

Advertisements

SmartDocumentor highlighted on the MSDN Blog Logic App Team

ilustracao-post-smartdocuemntor-highlighted-2-02

We are proud to announce that our article about Processing Feedback Evaluations (paper) with SmartDocumentor (OCR), Logic Apps, Azure Functions & Power BI written by our own Sandro Pereira was published by the influent blog: blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/logicapps from the MSDN Blog Logic Apps Team. See the article here:

In this article Sandro explain how he was able to use SmartDocumentor (OCR) and easily extend it using Microsoft cloud serverless technologies like: Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions and Power BI, to process Events Feedback Evaluations forms that he recently organized to be able, in real time, to produce interactive dashboards on Power BI, in other words, how he was able to easily converted paper into data in order to generate additional value and gain insights over it.

If you want to know more about our product SmartDocumentor have a look here: http://www.smartdocumentor.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Azure Analysis Services ready for production!

Azure-Analysis-Services-01.png

Microsoft announced today the general availability of Microsoft Azure Analysis Services, the latest addition to their data platform in the cloud. Built on the on-premises analytics engine in SQL Server, Azure Analysis Services provides enterprise-grade data modeling in the cloud.

We have been lucky to be part of the early previews and we already have customers in production. The announcement (Announcing Azure Analysis Services general availability) even quotes our BI Team Manager, Rui Romano:

“One of the great advantages of using Azure Analysis Services and Power BI is that it gives us the flexibility to start small and scale up only as fast as we need to, paying only for the services we use. We also have a very dynamic security model with Azure Analysis Services and Azure Active Directory and in addition to providing row-level security, we use Analysis Services to monitor report usage and send automated alerts if someone accesses a report or data record that they shouldn’t.”

We want to congratulate the Microsoft Business Intelligence team for reaching another important milestone!

The “Ninjas” have been set loose!

ninja.png

We are thrilled to have outstanding technical professionals in our team who are willing to reach out, share their technical expertise with others and help individuals maximize their use of technology. This “sharing culture” has been widely recognized at DevScope and now our SharePoint/.NET team just created a joint blog where they will be sharing even more about what they are interested in:

You are welcome to feed them here: Ignorance is never better than knowledge

Empowering Hybrid Integration at Channel 9

sandro-pereira-mvp-channel9-msdn copy.png

Microsoft’s Hybrid Integration Platform, which includes BizTalk Server, Azure Logic Apps, Azure API Management and Azure Service Bus, enables businesses in their digital transformation journey. You can now seamlessly connect applications, data and business processes across on-premises and the cloud using the hybrid integration platform.

During the MVP Global Summit 2016, and taking the opportunity of having most of the Integration MVPs gathered at the event, Microsoft Pro Integration team invited them to create short videos (10 minutes webcasts) at Microsoft Building 20, building that is the home of the “famous” Channel 9 studio, about Hybrid Integration, and our coworker Sandro Pereira was one of them. The result is this 8 minutes video on “Empowering Hybrid Integration” where you will learn how you can create powerful hybrid integration solutions using existing on-premises and cloud based solutions.

Empowering-Hybrid-Integration-Channel9

You can watch more sessions regarding Microsoft’s Hybrid Integration Platform on Channel9 here.

Open Source experts will be gathering in Lisbon

microsoft-open-source-camp-pedro-sousa-rui-quintino.png

Just one day left for the Microsoft Open Source Camp, the first event open source development conference held at Microsoft Portugal offices in Lisbon, with more than 25 sessions divided by 5 different session tracks, on topics such as ElasticSearch, Linux, Bots, Docker, Blockchain, React, .NET Core, Kubernetes, Serverless and much more.

Yes, you are reading correctly, it may be difficult for some of you to believe it, but it is a reality. Microsoft embraced Open Source so much that they are one of the largest corporate contributors to open source software on GitHub.

And once again, it is with great pleasure that we announce that Pedro Sousa and Rui Quintino are confirmed as event speakers. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Octopus Deploy & Docker

In this session, Pedro Sousa will talk about Octopus Deploy as a Continuous Deployment component on your Microsoft and Open Source infrastructure. Explaining the benefits of separating responsibilities between the Build process and the Release process. And the necessary requirements for an implementation of Octopus Server and his Tentacles (Agents), how to compose steps and examples how to integrate with container environments like Docker.

Open source deep-learning with Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK) & LightGBM

In this session, Rui Quintino will introduce to you the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, a free, easy-to-use, open-source deep-learning framework for neural networks to model, train & use popular neural networks architectures for a large range of machine learning scenarios. You will be able to see how to start with custom image classification & computer vision scenarios using CNTK, running on CPU and GPUs, together with LightGBM (Microsoft open source gradient boosting framework).

If you want to know more information about the event or to register go to Open Source Camp event website.

Join us at DevOps Porto #3rd meetup

pedro-sousa-3-devops-meetup

On March 23, 2017, we invite you to join our Pedro Sousa on the #3rd meetup about DevOps that, this time, will also be held at DevScope.

DevOps Porto is a community for everyone interested in reducing the pain of software delivery and in building “bridges” between development and operations, where you can discuss all DevOps related topics from the cultural perspective, such as communication and collaboration, and from the technical perspective, such as source control, continuous integration and continuous delivery.

On this the #3rd meetup about DevOps, Pedro Sousa will share a talk on “Azure Container Services”. He will do a brief overview of Azure’s current offerings for Container deployment and orchestration but also where and how you can start to explore the environments and build a simple DevTest Lab.

To register for the meetup and more information about the schedule, go to DevOps Porto #3: Containers @ Azure.

See you on Thursday, March 23, 2017.