“The Microsoft data warehouse has given our business capabilities and opportunities we’ve never had before. We’re using new business intelligence to make changes for the better.”
Rick Coenen, IT Manager, Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group
The Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH) Group comprises a diverse portfolio of venues across Australia, including more than 285 licensed venues and 460 retail liquor outlets. Its main business activities are pub operations, including electronic gaming,
sports bars, bistros, restaurants, cafes, retail liquor, accommodation, nightclubs and wagering. The company employs around 14,500 people.
ALH Group uses multiple, disparate business applications including merchandising, gaming, point-of-sale and financial systems. The company’s existing data warehouse was built on an ageing Oracle platform that held only sales data and was expensive to maintain.
It was difficult for management to view and compare consolidated data from across the business. Further, analysts often spent more time manually gathering information and creating reports in spreadsheets than analysing the data.
From June 2010, ALH Group began implementing a new data warehouse built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition, and leveraging the out-of-the-box functionality of SQL Server Master Data Services and SQL Server Integration Services. ALH Group
now has access to integrated and accurate data, and is using its enhanced business intelligence to make operational improvements. As a result, the business is saving A$7.2 million per year due to smarter purchasing decisions.
||Our existing Oracle data warehouse required two full-time database administrators to manage it. It was also difficult to integrate with our core business applications, which are based on Microsoft technology.
| Rick Coenen,
Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group
Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group’s existing data warehouse was based on an ageing Oracle platform, which held only sales data.
The company has multiple, disparate systems, including merchandising, point-of-sale and financial systems, that manage business functions. To view consolidated information from these sources, ALH Group’s business and reporting analysts manually exported
data to Microsoft Excel to create reports. Staff often spent more time gathering data than analysing it.
This inefficient reporting process restricted productivity and operational insight. It also resulted in inconsistent and unreliable information being delivered to management, with analysts creating reports using varying methods and often producing different
The inability to view and compare reliable data from different business functions caused a number of challenges.
“It was difficult to get an overall picture of the business, and we were working with multiple versions of the truth,” says Rick Coenen, IT Manager, ALH Group.
“Our existing data warehouse and associated systems were also causing problems with vendor and rebate management. We rely heavily on our multiple systems to claim correct supplier rebates on product purchases. Without the ability to view and compare data
from the various areas of our business, we were missing opportunities to maximise supplier rebates and reduce expenditure.”
According to Rick, the Oracle data platform also had a higher cost of ownership, yet was smaller in scope.
“It required two full-time Oracle database administrators to manage it,” he says. “It was also difficult to integrate with our core business applications, such as our accommodation, point-of-sale and financial systems, which are based on Microsoft technology.”
ALH Group wanted to extend the range of data stored in its warehouse and improve its business intelligence capability, while reducing data warehouse ownership and management costs. It also needed to improve data quality in order to make more educated business
As part of a wider initiative that included replacing the company’s merchandising systems, ALH Group undertook a tender process in early 2010 involving five companies to implement a new data warehouse. The company selected Oakton – a Microsoft Gold Certified
Partner specialising in business intelligence solutions.
Oakton began work on the project in June 2010. It built a master data management system based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server Master Data Services, which includes the use of business rules, derived hierarchies and subscriptions. The system
was incorporated in the data warehouse using SQL Server 2008 Integration Services, which also cleanses, transforms and maps data.
The warehouse extracts transactional data from a number of operational sources. Users perform reporting and query and analysis using SAP Business Objects software.
Oakton staggered the deployment to minimise disruption to the business and ensure each phase was implemented successfully. The first phase went live in December 2010 and included the overall design of the data warehouse.
||We can now access sales results from promotions and compare these with normal trading data. This allows us to better understand which promotions work and which don’t.
| Rick Coenen,
Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group
The second phase, rolled out in June 2011, incorporated financial data from ALH Group’s Microsoft Dynamics ERP system into the new warehouse. The third phase will incorporate human resources and payroll data.
“It’s an ongoing project. We will continue adding new areas of the business into the data warehouse, along with new systems we bring into the organisation,” says Coenen.
According to Oakton’s Practice Manager Hugh Rogers, Oakton designed the warehouse based on an evaluation of user access needs, to ensure it delivered information in the most appropriate way.
Throughout the project, a team of four to seven Oakton consultants worked onsite at ALH Group’s head office in Melbourne.
“Unlike the Oracle data warehouse, the warehouse built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 requires no full-time employees to manage it,” says Rogers. “Oakton will continue to provide support for ALH Group’s data warehouse.”
With the new data warehouse, ALH Group has significantly reduced its ownership costs and is making more cost-effective purchasing decisions. Business analysts can compile and analyse data from across the business faster, and ALH Group is using this holistic
insight to make improvements across the business.
“Staff have provided great feedback and are impressed with the new, more efficient platform and richer functionality,” says Coenen.
Contributes to an annual saving of A$7.2 million
As part of ALH Group’s broader IT initiative, improved business intelligence is saving the company around A$7.2 million per year due to smarter buying and processing of rebates.
Provides greater insight into operations
With an integrated warehouse that draws data from multiple sources and standardises it, ALH Group now has a greater understanding of overall business performance.
“The Microsoft data warehouse has given our business capabilities and opportunities we’ve never had before,” says Coenen.
“We’re using new business intelligence to make changes for the better. Analysts spend far less time gathering information, and can instead focus on analysis.”
The ability to compare data from different business functions has also provided a range of tangible benefits.
Managers from the company’s food operations can now generate reports that compare discounting across different venues. Managers can then address any unusual levels of discounting.
“We can now also access sales results from promotions and compare these with normal trading data. This allows us to better understand which promotions work and which don’t,” says Coenen.
Improves efficiency of reporting processes
The Microsoft data warehouse has dramatically sped up the time it takes for ALH Group to access its company data. Rather than extracting data from multiple systems and consolidating it in spread sheets, analysts can now access information immediately in
a single report.
ALH Group can access hourly sales results and view and compare figures from multiple points of sale within venues.
“When the third phase of the implementation goes live, we will be able to compare sales figures with data on labour and time in attendance, to better understand correlations between staffing resources and sales performance,” says Coenen.
Enhances quality of data
With Microsoft SQL Server Master Data Services’ role-based security, administrators can enable anyone to access and update master data directly, with minimal impact on the IT team. Improved master data management keeps the master data clean and consistent
as it is updated and expanded.
SQL Server 2008 Integration Services cleanses, transforms and maps large volumes of data from multiple sources into a format that ALH Group’s analysts and decision makers can use.
Coenen says: “With the new data warehouse, we can use high-quality data as a competitive asset to increase efficiency, enhance customer service and drive profitability.”
Microsoft Product that was featured
To differentiate themselves, organisations need to efficiently manage enterprise information and broadly deliver insights that drive business decisions. Trust Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 to meet your most demanding data-warehousing requirements. Benefit
from enterprise-class scale and performance, and gain actionable business insights affordably with integrated BI and ETL tools. Take advantage of hardware choice, data warehouse reference architectures, and support for near real-time data.
For more information about SQL Server 2008, go to: