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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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.

Sector público reúne no Porto

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A Microsoft está sempre em movimento para desenvolver as tecnologias mais inovadoras e para ficar mais próxima das necessidades das comunidades locais.

Desta vez irá estar no Porto para apresentar as últimas inovações direccionadas para o sector público e focadas no desenvolvimento da região e das cidades.

Mais uma vez a DevScope foi convidada para partilhar da sua experiência e casos de sucesso. Rui Quintino [Data Plataform MVP] e Manuela Álvares (Domus Social Porto) estarão a representar as respectivas perspectivas num dos mais pioneiros projectos de Azure (cloud) e PowerBI.

O evento irá ocorrer no próximo dia 16 de Março na Biblioteca Municipal Almeida Garrett no Porto entre as 9h15 e as 13h00.

Confira a agenda abaixo:

As inscrições são limitadas, se ainda não recebeu o seu convite, contacte-nos para info@devscope.net?subject=ConvitePubAdmin.

Congratulations Rui Quintino, our new Microsoft MVP

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It is with great pleasure that we announce another Microsoft Most Valuable Professional recognized in our team: Rui Quintino, awarded as Data Platform MVP.

The Microsoft MVP Award is an annual award given to outstanding members of Microsoft’s technical communities based on contributions made during the previous 12 months to offline and online Microsoft-related technical communities. These technical communities foster the free and objective exchange of knowledge, thereby creating a reliable source of independent, real-world expertise that benefits everyone. The Microsoft MVP Award recognizes exceptional technical community leaders worldwide who actively share their knowledge with other technical community members.

Rui requested us to share is acknowledgment here:

I feel deeply honored with this award, and want to thank my DevScope coworkers & team mates for all the support, dedication, deep expertize & truly amazing team work. Above all, thank you for teaching me so much through these years & being an inspiration every single day on making the world a better place through the use of data and Microsoft Data Platform.

Rui Quintino, Manager & Senior Architect, DevScope S.A.

It takes two, or more…

According to Scott Guthrie, MVP’s are community leaders and they have been an essential part of Microsoft and Microsoft culture for many years. – and we are pleased to have now three on our team.

This way, we also like to congratulate Sandro Pereira for his sixth renewal in the MVP program, initially as BizTalk, but recently as an Azure MVP.

Rui Romano in Paris (Sep 5th, 2015)

SQL Saturday Paris - Rui Romano

SQLSaturday Paris 2015 (or SQL Saturday #420) will be held September 5th 2015 in the neighborhood of Montparnasse in the center of Paris. This is an international conference held by the French SQL Server Community dedicated to SQL Server professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server. This edition will have the collaboration of Rui Romano, with a session about “Power BI for Developers“:

Are you a developer? Want to learn what PowerBI has for you? Then come to my session where you will learn how to enhance your applications with PowerBI experiences…

This event has more than 25 speakers from 9 different nationalities, that offer you more than 20 sessions on SQL Server and its ecosystem.

Entries are limited, there is no registration fee but attendees are required to reserve a place here. Check the full agenda of the event program.

Can’t make it to Paris this year? You can always join us to the next SQLSaturday #429 Oporto 2015 on October 3th, 2015.

Azure Stream Analytics e PowerBI no ITPro Airlift

IT-Pro-Airlift-Data-Platform-logoA equipa da DevScope contribuirá com dois oradores para o primeiro evento técnico do ano dedicado às plataformas de Dados e Cloud (Azure).

Este evento pretende demonstrar o que poderá fazer com a nova geração de soluções de dados da Microsoft nos seus projetos, a Microsoft Data Platform. Ao longo do dia irá conhecer o que pode fazer com o novo SQL Server, as novidades na área de Business Intelligence e Data Warehousing, e o potencial de novos serviços na Cloud para Business Analytics suportados no Microsoft Azure.

Rui Quintino vai estrear um tema novo com várias demonstrações de “Azure Stream Analytics” aplicado ao processamento de dados recolhidos via equipamentos espalhados pela internet (IoT, EventHubs). O processamento desses eventos, juntando outros dados analiticos, é depois encaminhado para Real-Time Dashboards ou até mesmo PowerBI.

À mesma hora, o Rui Romano apresenta um tema mais dirigido ao Excel Power-User com  o “Self-service BI: Excel & Power BI”. Êsta é uma sessão muito prática com excelentes dicas de PowerQuery, Power BI, PowerPivot, PowerView, entre outras coisas muito boas no Excel.

O evento irá ocorrer no próximo dia 22 de Janeiro no Microsoft Lisbon Experience em Lisboa. As inscrições são limitadas, não tem custos de inscrição mas é obrigatório que reserve o seu lugar aqui.

Confira a agenda abaixo:

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SQLSaturday comes to Porto on Oct 18th

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SQLSaturday #341 Porto 2014 – Port-Wine Edition

SQLSaturday#341 Porto is almost here! On Oct 18th this event will be held at ISEP – Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto.  This is the fourth time that the conference takes place in Portugal, and a premiere in Porto.

PASS’s SQLSaturdays are community-driven events for database professionals that join together international speakers, providing a variety of high-quality technical sessions, and making it all happen through the efforts of volunteers and sponsors.

This year alignment brings many International speakers, including Scott Klein (keynote), Ruben Pertusa Lopez, Tillmann Eitelberg Oliver Engels, Denis Reznik, Fabiano Neves Amorim, Cathrine Wilhelmsen, Mark Broadbent, Enrique Catala, Regis Baccaro and many more, check the full agenda here.

Our team at DevScope is already involved in the event and we recommend you reserve your seat as soon as possible too. Some of our coleagues were invited to deliver sessions. Our contributions range from Cloud Services to Server Automation or Mobile Development. There are plenty of opportunities to meet us in our hometown:

  • 10:30 – Build mobile applications with Xamarin Forms by Rui Marinho [Xamarin]
    Xamarin.Forms is a cross platform library that allows you to build native user interfaces for Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Windows Phone with C# and XAML.
  • 12:00 – Introduction to Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services by Sandro Pereira [Microsoft Integration MVP]
    In this session we’ll look at the new integration services in the cloud. From EAI to EDI, using trading partner profiles, schemas, maps and flat-files. And we will discuss the challenges of upgrading/migrating BizTalk Server to the cloud.
  • 14:00 – 10 tips everyone should know about PowerShell (TBA) by José António Silva
  • 15:00 – We will also have a Devscope sponsored session to be lead by our BI team at Hospital S. João. Rui Quintino and his team will be sharing some of their tools and tips and offering some invitations for Azure Machine Learning training at DevScope. Stay tuned!

You can follow the schedule updates here and make sure you get your registration as soon as possible.