Business Analytics in Lisbon

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The SAP Business Intelligence forum in Lisbon, Portugal took place on May 17th, at the Bélem Cultural Center.

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The packed event kicked off with an introduction from the managing director of SAP Portugal, Paulo Carvalho.

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The ever-smiling Luisa Silva, in charge of Business Analytics sales in Lisbon, moderated the event.

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I gave the keynote — as usual, you can download my presentation in Adobe .pdf or Microsoft PowerPoint format.

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Next came a short, entertaining video from the main conference sponsor, Accenture. It explained analytics at a high level, and talked about what companies can do to get more value in the future.

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What I didn’t like about the video was the black and white treatment of old “descriptive analytics” as being very basic, compared to “new”, more business-focused “predictive analytics” (see “business intelligence vs business analytics” for more ranting). Business intelligence has always been about using information to improve the business (nobody would have spend money on it otherwise!). The “new” technologies mentioned in the video: statistical analysis, forecasting, modeling, etc. have been around for decades. The (admittedly more nuanced, less-compelling) reality is that BI has long been a continuum of functionality, and that as time, technology has improved what you can do, but the underlying business usages/need have remained the same.

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The keynote customer speaker was Rui Carneiro, Head of ICT Project Office for ANA Airports, Aerportos de Portugal, the company responsible for the five main airports in Portugal, and the 28 Million people that visited the country via plane in 2010.

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Rui explained the history of ANA’s use of the SAP BusinessObjects, starting with version 5 in 2004, using traffic data coming only from airport billing systems. The company quickly experienced huge increases in both demand for information and the amount of data available, and needed to starting thinking about taking the system to the next level.

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In 2005, the company started a data warehousing project to create a system that would be capable of supporting their information needs into the foreseeable future. This involved data coming from multiple operational and financial systems, and the creation of key performance indicators.

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Using BusinessObjects Data Integrator (now part of Data Services), the company completed phase one of the project in 2006. Over time, the system gradually went from being a “nice to have” to being as important to the business as their operational systems. The plan is to make ANZ (more) privatized in the future, and good access to data is essential to a smooth transition to the new corporate models.

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Rui then demonstrated a selection of some of the great interactive dashboards his team developed with BusinessObjects Dashboards (previously know as Xcelsius), and showed off the intuitive, self-service access to airport traffic data using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

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Here’s more detail about one of the traffic dashboards (note that all the data is fake.)

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One of the most interesting dashboards is the “RouteLab” extranet business intelligence dashboard designed to help the airport’s airline customers have better access to information, and optimize their operations.

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The public area of the site gives basic statistics about the airport – here, for example, is an excerpt from the most recent monthly traffic report:

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But there’s also a Partner area available that gives much more detailed, valuable data for partners (see the “Your airline area” link in the top menu.)

Because the airport handles traffic from multiple airlines, they have more information than is available to any particular operator. They have provided a portal for the airlines that gives them global information about particular routes. Is it good news if traffic rises ten percent on a particular route? It’s impossible to tell unless there’s something to compare it to. The RouteLab dashboard would let the airline find out, for example, that the overall traffic on the route, for all airlines, had increased 20%, and so the airline was losing market share…

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You can see the dashboard above. Airlines can view the number of passengers, the capacity, load factor, capacity share and route share, for different time periods and different routes (note that these are not the real numbers)

Next came a break, with the partner area of the center flooded with interested attendees.

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The day broke into two tracks, focused on business intelligence and performance management. I followed the business intelligence track, mainly.

Demetrius Pedralho of GTBC talked about the Strategic Importance of Business Intelligence

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Matthew Folque of SAP partner Winger Consulting gave a good high-level overview of the key challenges of Business Analytics.

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Francisco Cruz of Portuguese meat vendor Industrias de Carnas gave an overview of their sales dashboards, developed with xxx

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Luis Lourenco of Accenture showed off a service BPO analytic application they have developed

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Henrique Pousinha of the Municipality of Lisbon, with the help of partner Novabase. Last year, the municipality had a staff of around 10,000, an annual budget of around 840 million Euros, 450,000 customers and 50,000 suppliers, and an operating profit of around 75 million Euros.

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Gabriel Coimbra, a research and consulting director for IDC gave a talk about BI trends.

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The final part of the day was a star-studded customer panel, hosted by Pedro Norton de Matos, with Manuel Chaves Magalhaes of ANA, Alexandre Mendes of Caixa, Alimirante Carmo Durao of the Defense Ministry, Tiago Cruz of Mota-Engil, and Tiago Oom of Unicre.

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Here are a selection of photographs from the event on Flickr:

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The next day SAP portugal hosted a CIO event at the famous Eleven Restaurante, with a short presentation on Analytics and some highlights of the SAPPHIRENOW event in Orlando.

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Here’s my presentation in Adobe PDF and Microsoft PowerPoint Format.

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