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

EPIA2017: AI specialists joining us here in Porto.

applications-that-learn

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Power BI Tiles Pro NFR license for Microsoft MVPs

PowerBiTiles-MVP-Campaign-01-07

 

Congratulations to this year’s MVPs who have recently received their new designations!

And to recognize your valuable work in local and worldwide communities, DevScope is very pleased to provide a free Power BI Tiles Pro not-for-resale (NFR) license (for 1 year) to all Microsoft Most Value Professional (MVP).

This NFR license will give you unlimited access to:

  • Power BI Tiles Pro Desktop for Office: These are Office Add-ins that allows you to embed your, or your team’s Power BI Visuals into your PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Outlook Messages quickly and directly without leaving office in seconds.
  • Power BI Tiles Online: This is an online version of Power BI Tiles that will allow you to embed Power BI visualizations into office documents (Access Online, Excel 2013 Service Pack 1 (or higher), Excel Online, PowerPoint 2013 Service Pack 1 (or higher), PowerPoint Online).

To access this offer, you only have to submit this form. We will review your information and contact you to set up your account.

If you have any questions regarding Power BI Tiles Pro or this offer, just send us an email to support@devscope.net.

*By submitting your contact information, you authorize DevScope to contact you via email about its products, services and special offers. However, we respect your privacy and we will never sell your contact information and you are free to unsubscribe our newsletters at any time.

 

Power BI Tiles has a new desktop version with much cooler features

new-desktop-power-bi-tiles-devscope.png

We just released a new version of Power BI Tiles Pro  with some amazing new features:

  • Report Filters Now you can create variations of your PBI Reports by applying filters directly to the data. In all reports, the filters tab will be displayed by default.

Power-BI-Tiles-Pro-Filters

  • Microsoft PBI SDK update Microsoft released updates to its SDK and we are now using the latest versions. Enhanced functionalities enabled us to support filtering APIs.
  • Better and faster rendering We improved the rendering mechanisms and we are now experiencing much faster (+30%) refresh cycles.
  • Bug Fixing and overall improvements We fixed all reported bugs and refactored code to make it more stable and robust.

To enjoy all these newest additions, make sure you update your version of Power BI Tiles Pro or, if you are not a Power BI Tiles Pro user, do not miss the chance to install it.

Stop wasting time taking snapshots from your dashboards

Now you can:

  • Add Power BI visuals (dashboard tiles & reports) into your slide deck, Word document or Outlook message using high definition static images.
  • Maintain cropping or formatting, even while refreshing the underlining dashboards.
  • Navigate and preview your Power BI catalog without leaving your documents.
  • Automate the refresh process to ensure all images regenerate using the latest data in powerbi.com

For more information about our online and desktop version, please visit our website: http://www.powerbitiles.com

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!

Congratulations Rui Romano, our new Microsoft MVP

Rui-Romano-Microsoft-MVP-Award-2017.png

We are happy to confirm that in our team, we have a new Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP): Rui Romano, awarded as Data Platform MVP for his contributions to offline and online Microsoft-related technical communities.

We are thrilled to have such outstanding technical professional in our team and we would like to congratulate Rui for this MVP nomination. He will now join an exceptional group of individuals from around the world who have demonstrated a willingness to reach out, share their technical expertise with others and help individuals maximize their use of technology.

“I’m proud to see Rui receiving this award, he is a brilliant technician and it has been a pleasure to see him grow both at a professional and personal level in these last 11 years that we work together. Thank you for putting such an effort helping others succeed and for being an inspiration for many others in our team. Congratulations Rui.”

Márcia Teixeira, Human Resources Manager at DevScope

Rui requested us to share his acknowledgment here:

“I’m deeply honored and humbled by this award that recognizes my work around Microsoft Data Platform Communities.

Although this award is viewed as a personal achievement it couldn’t be done without the help & backup from my fellow team mates at DevScope especially the BI & Data Analytics Team!

Thank You!”

Rui Romano, Manager & Senior Architect at DevScope

Most Valuable Professional is an annual award given to outstanding members of Microsoft’s technical communities. And we have the honor to have currently 3 Microsoft MVPs amongst our team:

Thank you all for their community efforts, showcasing their passions and drive to offer customers most valuable solutions in their business areas.