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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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

Free Power BI Tiles Pro NFR license for Microsoft MVPs

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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

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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.

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  • 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!

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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!

Have you tried Power BI Tiles Pro yet?

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Time is too valuable to waste it on screen clipping and low-quality copy-pasted images. Power BI Tiles Pro has a new desktop version with much cooler features that will allow you to embed your Power BI Visuals in seconds, and become more agile and productive. In order to stop wasting your valuable time, simply open your favorite Microsoft Office product (Outlook, Word or PowerPoint), log in and navigate thru Power BI directly from Office, embedding your or your team’s dashboard and reports. Yes, it is astonishingly simple!

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What is Power BI Tiles Pro?

Power BI Tiles Pro is a “pack” featuring two versions of the product:

  • Power BI Tiles Pro Desktop for Office: Microsoft Office add-ins that allow you to embed your or your team’s Power BI Visuals into PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Outlook Messages quickly and without ever leaving office.
  • Power BI Tiles Online: An online version of Power BI Tiles that allows you to embed Power BI visualizations into Microsoft Office documents (Access Online, Excel 2013 Service Pack 1 (or higher), Excel Online, PowerPoint 2013 Service Pack 1 (or higher), PowerPoint Online).

What is Power BI Tiles Pro Desktop for Office? How does it work? What’s new?

These Microsoft Office add-ins allow you to embed your or your team’s Power BI Visuals (dashboards and reports) directly into your Microsoft Office documents and perform several effects operations with it. Most importantly, it allows you to selectively update/refresh those visuals at any time keeping the original formatting with just one click.

“Quite simply, a MUST-HAVE Power BI add-in” – Jonas Young

“The missing piece for Power BI integration into Office. Simply fantastic” – Paul Stevens

“Awesome work. Top add-in. Worked perfectly for me. You guys rock!” – Stewart Langley

You can now install Power BI Tiles Pro: Online and Desktop:

  • Download Power BI Tiles Pro Online from the Microsoft Store
    • Note: To install Power BI Tiles Pro Online follow the steps described in the Microsoft Store;
  • Download Power BI Tiles Pro Desktop zip package
    • To install Power BI Tiles Pro Desktop, unzip the file downloaded previously from the website and install the executable add-in files (one for each Microsoft product – Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook);
    • Run the setup program and follow the instructions shown on your screen for the installation program;

To activate your license you just need to register with your Power BI account (on the online or desktop version). To receive the activation keys, go to our store. You will receive an email with your 4-activation key: one to the online solution and three others to use on each module of the desktop solution.

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To activate your licenses:

  • On Power BI Tiles Pro Online: Click on the “Store” button, open the “Activate license” tab and insert the provided online activation key;
  • On Power BI Tiles Pro Desktop: Open the add-in tab in each Microsoft product, click on “Activate license” and insert the provided activation key for that product;

Feel free to try our product and check some of the new and improved features of Power BI Tiles Pro:

  • Add Power BI Visuals: Add visuals (dashboard tiles & reports) to your slide deck, Word document or Outlook message with a powerful Power BI interactivity and experience
    • We now support Power BI Public Web Reports – *new*

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  • Manual & Automatic Refresh Process: Automate the Refresh process to ensure all images use the latest data in powerbi.com
    • You can now insert and update or refresh your Power BI visuals in real-time, keeping the inserted shapes or visuals with the same applied format. Power BI Tiles Pro will allow you to update the static images with the latest data from Power BI while keeping all formats, resizes, and locations intact.

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  • High Definition Images: Use high definition static images when embedding and apply any kind of styles or formatting;

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  • Visuals catalog preview: Preview and select the items you wish to insert while navigating through your Power BI visuals catalog;

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Why is this app so cool?

Power BI Tiles Pro is so great because it removes the need to take snapshots of your visualizations and update your documents before an important meeting or presentation. These add-ins allow you to create dynamic documents with “refreshable” Power BI Visuals that you can share with other people even if they don’t have Power BI Tiles Pro installed.

Don’t forget to give it a try and send us your feedback. Download Power BI Tiles Pro.

Embed your PowerBI visuals into PowerPoint easily

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We’ve just released PowerPoint SmartShapes for PowerBI, a Microsoft Office add-in that allows you to integrate Power BI dashboards and reports into your Office PowerPoint 2013 & 2015 presentations.

Now you’ll be able to embed Power BI visuals into a PowerPoint presentation and update/refresh them without losing all applied formatting. How awesome is that?

Download it now and try it for free with a 30-day trial.

Create a presentation and insert PowerBI Visuals

Just log in to your PowerBI account and select the visuals you want to insert.

Create a presentation and Insert PowerBI Visuals

Refresh and update visuals with just one click, keeping all formatting

Click the refresh button and update any previously inserted PowerBI visuals without losing any applied formatting.

Click the Refresh button and update any visual previously inserted with up to date data

 

 

 

Stay tuned for some updates over the next following days and feel free to contact us at support@devscope.net if you have any questions.