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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SmartDocumentor highlighted on the MSDN Blog Logic App Team

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrate 2017 Conference – The world’s Best Microsoft Integration event right now.

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Our own Sandro Pereira is a guest speaker in the event Integrate 2017, the premier Microsoft Integration Conference for who is working in Microsoft Integration space.

This 3-day event, taking place in London, is going to covering technologies like On-premise, Cloud and Hybrid Integration, with the contribution of  29 speakers from Microsoft and the Integration community & key sessions from the Microsoft Product Group.

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

Our own Sandro Pereira session “BizTalk Server Fast and Loud” it will take place tomorrow morning, June 28th at 11h40m,  and he is going to address the following question: How can I optimize/tuning my 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. This 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. But I will try to keep it as simple as possible so everyone can understand and follow.

Videos from 2017 edition coming soon.  For now, you can watch Integrate 2016 videos here:  https://www.biztalk360.com/integrate-2016-resources/

 

 

Ativar Portugal Startups

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The mindset behind “Ativar Portugal” is to support entrepreneurs and the startup ecosystem in Portugal by developing a strong community of innovators, government, venture capitalists and accelerators. And in it’s third edition, this years’ Ativar Portugal event is all about taking the ecosystem to the next level – focused on deep tech.

Ativar Portugal is the biggest Microsoft event in Portugal dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship.

DevScope is happy to have been invited to join this year’s gathering event, represented by José António Silva who will carry out the Deep Tech keynote.
Here you will find disruptive discussion panels, successful case studies, and innovative sessions, all of them focused on deep tech.
If you want to know more about what will happen during the day, check out the agenda and featured speakers here! The morning event sessions are by invitation only but you can watch them on live streaming here.
The goal is to inspire and get inspired by showcasing incredible and the most innovative things that are being done at the moment and how they are changing the world!
See you there!

Empowering Hybrid Integration at Channel 9

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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.

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

Congratulations Rui Romano, our new Microsoft MVP

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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.

Open Source experts will be gathering in Lisbon

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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.