Electronics retailer BCC tracks every in-store and online transaction with its SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. But the system was so complicated that generating reports required outside assistance. To resolve this issue, the company
implemented the business intelligence (BI) features in Microsoft SQL Server software. Now reports are generated in-house, and costs are as much as 25 percent lower.
BCC operates 57 specialty electronics retail stores throughout the Netherlands and sells products through an online retail store as well. The company keeps data about all transactions in an SAP ERP system, and it runs reports on this data to help understand
its customers and the market in order to make informed business decisions.
||Before we implemented Microsoft SQL Server, users worked a whole day to get a particular report out of the system. Now they refresh their reports with one push of a button!
| Marco van Putten
Business Development and ICT
However, the system was complex, and BCC often had to get help from outside the company to access data and generate reports, which slowed down the entire process. “It was necessary to bring in external expertise on a regular basis,” says Marco van Putten, Director,
Business Development and ICT (Information and Communication Technology), BCC. “Waiting for the reports required by management took too long and decisions could not be made quickly. It was an aggravating problem that we struggled with for a long time.”
Eventually, BCC learned about business intelligence features that are standard in Microsoft products. The company was already running a Microsoft application environment parallel to the SAP environment, and it thought a Microsoft BI solution might speed
up access to its customer data.
In addition to seeking faster access to data, BCC wanted to reduce the technical complexity to avoid having to rely on outside help for creating reports. It wanted to produce reports entirely with internal staff, which would accelerate report generation
and reduce spending on third-party help. “We wanted to be able to have all the reports built by nontechnical people—not just now, but also in the future,” van Putten says.
BCC was already running Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 technology when it started looking for a new BI solution for its ERP data. Because of its investment in Microsoft software, BCC wanted to find a Microsoft BI solution. “We have a preference
for Microsoft, due in part to the integration possibilities with the Microsoft applications that we already have in use, such as Office and SharePoint,” van Putten says. “That is extremely important for us.”
At a presentation at Microsoft Netherlands in late 2010, BCC learned that Microsoft partner NewFrontiers had developed a ready-to-use generic data warehouse solution for SAP ERP systems. The solution, NemisFS, consists of predefined interfaces between the
SAP source system and a data warehouse. Data is stored in a NewFrontiers data model in the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database. BCC started to implement the NewFrontiers solution in April 2011 and put it into production in November 2011.
NewFrontiers had realized numerous SAP integrations on the Microsoft platform, but it had not performed many for retail clients. Retail systems typically involve collecting and recording large amounts of data, and the data volumes in the BCC ERP system were
a challenge for NewFrontiers. But the company was able to handle the data transfer by using the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) software that is a standard part of NemisFS. After the data transfer, data on the Microsoft platform was made available
to end users via data marts.
Once the NewFrontiers solution was installed, BCC hired Microsoft partner Macaw to set up the reporting system for the new solution. About 200 BCC employees at headquarters and branch stores use the new solution. In the future, BCC plans to migrate to Microsoft
SQL Server 2012 and implement SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for SharePoint.
With NemisFS and SQL Server, BCC is reducing its reporting costs, gaining insights more quickly, and making better decisions. The company looks forward to further enhancing its BI system with SQL Server 2012.
Self-Service Reports Save 25 Percent
With NemisFS, BCC reduced its reliance on external expertise for generating reports, which saves the company money. These savings are helping BCC to realize a quicker return on investment for its new BI system and to pay off the NemisFS migration project
“By developing more BI in-house, we expect to lower general development costs by some 25 percent," van Putten says. “And in terms of operational costs, we expect to be at 50 percent of the old situation in 2013. This includes the write-off of the migration
Quicker Analysis Improves Decisions
With the new solution, management reports can be built by nontechnical people by using the standard BI functions present in SQL Server. The reports are easy to define, adjust, and update. Says van Putten, “Before we implemented Microsoft SQL Server, users
worked a whole day to get a particular report out of the system. Now they refresh their reports with one push of a button!”
The new solution also provides quicker analysis of data and immediate insights into sales and costs. “With NemisFS, we initiated a continuous BI process that collects, stores, and analyzes data very quickly,” van Putten says. “That information leads to better
knowledge of the market and that, in turn, leads to better decision-making processes in order to further improve BCC performance and market position.”
PowerPivot Digs Deeper into Data
The release of SQL Server 2012 puts BCC in an even better position to get more out of its ERP data. The blazing fast performance in SQL Server 2012 and the data-handling capabilities of SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for SharePoint will help users explore large
data sets and share reports with coworkers, which would lead to better business decisions.
“We constantly want more,” van Putten says. “We want to publish the reports and share them via our SharePoint environment. We also want to take more advantage of the power of PowerPivot in order to delve even deeper into the data and obtain even more information.
In my opinion, SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint is an ideal means for this purpose. Our users will be able to convert large quantities of data into decision-supporting information in a quick and easy manner.”
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