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Posted: 3/6/2012
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ABB S.p.A. Italian Engineering Firm Improves Customer Analysis Capabilities with BI Solution

ABB S.p.A. is owned by ABB, a global power and automation company headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. To meet business demands, ABB S.p.A. needed to give employees better business intelligence (BI) capabilities. The company also wanted to consolidate its data to give employees a single view of business and customer information. ABB S.p.A. is implementing a Microsoft BI and data warehouse solution that will provide better business insight and give employees a unified data view. The solution also gives the company the flexibility to add analytical tools going forward.

Business Needs

ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies and operates in 100 countries. The information system (IS) department of ABB S.p.A., an ABB company located near Milan, assists 5,550 employees with business intelligence (BI) systems, network management, and other IS services.

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* Using the SQL Server Power View tool and the BI Semantic Model in SQL Server 2012, our employees will be able to easily create multidimensional reports, providing better insight into business and customer data. *

Andrea Franchi
BI Technical Lead
ABB S.p.A.

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In early 2011, as part of a new business initiative, the ABB CIO started a program to improve information management for ABB in Italy. A critical part of this initiative was giving employees self-service BI reporting capabilities so they could gather more useful data about local and regional customers. “Because of growing demand for fast business analysis, the Italian business units had a need for real-time data analysis,” says Fabrizio Bertotto, IS Application Manager, ABB MED Region. “They wanted to give their employees a better ability to find out more about business trends, starting from a daily and near-real-time operational BI analysis. It was up to IS to create an innovative solution to support that.”

This would be a challenge, though, because ABB S.p.A. had different BI systems in place throughout the organization. “Data for business analysis came from many sources, so we wanted to try and put it into a single, unified view for the users,” says Andrea Franchi, BI Technical Lead, ABB S.p.A.

For ABB S.p.A., having a unified solution was also critical for customer perception. “Our divisions are very different, but our customers see ABB S.p.A. as a single entity,” says Alberto Iacop, CIO, Italy and Mediterranean Region, ABB S.p.A.. “And we also wanted to have a single view of customer information.”

In mid-2011, the ABB S.p.A. IS department started planning for a new, consolidated BI environment.

Solution

Because it had been using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 data management software and was familiar with other Microsoft technologies, ABB S.p.A. was determined to find a Microsoft BI solution. “We’ve been a Microsoft customer for a long time and have been very pleased with the technology and support,” says Bertotto.

ABB S.p.A. concluded that Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise was the right technology for its BI initiative. SQL Server 2012 includes new data analysis features such as Power View, a self-service web-based reporting tool found in SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services. Power View would give ABB employees advanced data exploration, visualization, and presentation capabilities.

ABB S.p.A. also wanted to explore the BI Semantic Model in SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services, a semantic layer placed on top of a SQL Server 2012 data warehouse that interoperates tightly with Power View, Microsoft Excel 2010 spreadsheet software, and other technologies.

In March 2012, ABB S.p.A. will start to deploy Power View and the BI Semantic Model based on a SQL Server 2012 data warehouse. Data will be restructured for online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes both in the traditional way and with the new in-memory tabular storage mode using SQL Server 2012 Integration Services and Analysis Services data marts.

Once the new solution is fully deployed, the firm will have a centralized place for all its analytics information needs. About 4,000 users will be able to uniformly access and analyze millions of rows of data. The solution will rely heavily on virtualization technologies and will aim to consolidate eight legacy BI platforms into a single data warehouse with more than 3 terabytes of data. Users will also be able to quickly and easily create their own customer data reports using scorecards and dashboards.

Benefits

The Microsoft BI solution will give ABB S.p.A. employees better business insight by providing them with powerful data analysis capabilities and more detailed information. Also, the ABB S.p.A. IS department will have flexible analytical tools for the future.

Gives ABB Better Business Insight

With its new solution, ABB S.p.A. will give employees easy-to-use tools for viewing in-depth customer data and building reports. “Using the SQL Server Power View tool and the BI Semantic Model in SQL Server 2012, our employees will be able to create multidimensional reports, which will give us better insight into business and customer data,” says Franchi.

ABB S.p.A. also expects the solution to provide future analytical efficiency. “ABB S.p.A. is a leader in the Mediterranean region, and SQL Server 2012 will help us meet not only local but regional demands for daily data reporting and share information among the several companies in the area,” Franchi says.

Presents Unified View of Customer Data

The SQL Server 2012 BI Semantic Model will help ABB S.p.A. present detailed customer data from different regions in a single, unified view. “We have very different divisions with multiple source of information,” says Iacop. “This solution delivers that information in a consolidated database with a unified toolset.”

Provides Flexible BI Model

The ABB S.p.A. IS department will also have more flexibility. For example, with the BI Semantic Model, IS can provide a feature-rich semantic layer on top of its data warehouse. “The SQL Server 2012 BI Semantic Model makes it easy for us to offer BI tools in a transparent way to our users,” says Franchi.

ABB S.p.A. can also implement other BI tools as needed. “We expect to provide more mobile applications or other services,” says Bertotto. “This solution will give us the flexibility to change things as we go along to implement the best tools for our users, while still having the same data assets on the back end. It gives our employees the tools they need, both now and in the future.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview




Organization Profile
ABB S.p.A., based near Milan, Italy, is the Italian subsidiary of ABB, one of the largest engineering firms in the world. ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies that help utility and industry customers improve their performance while lowering environmental impact.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services

Vertical Industries
Automotive, Industrial Equipment & Aerospace

Business Need
Business Intelligence and Reporting

IT Issue
Data Warehousing

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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