Archive for Wrzesień, 2011

Vodafone and NantWorks team up over

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Vodafone has signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Angeles-based NantWorks LLC to explore mobile data services development with a particular focus on innovative mobile healthcare services to deliver patient care remotely

NantWorks is one of the first companies signed through Vodafone’s new Vodafone xone technology R&D centre, based in Silicon Valley, which aims to identify and qualify innovative technologies from startups, R&D labs, universities and venture capital portfolios.

Vodafone xone will provide technical expertise, potential financial assistance, logistical support and facilities to help promising US technology companies gain a fast track into proof-of-concept trials across Vodafone’s global network.

NantWorks Chairman and CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong said: “Vodafone is the ideal partner for NantWorks as we develop technologies intended to bring the digital revolution into more aspects of people’s lives, including healthcare and education. I welcome the opening of Vodafone xone here in California and I look forward to a great partnership between our companies.”

Siavash Alamouti, Director of Vodafone Group R&D said: “NantWorks is an exciting and visionary company. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration as we explore options to bring new and transformative products and services to market.”

DStv Media Sales is Media Owner of the year

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Formerly known as Oracle Airtime Sales, DStv Media Sales’ revitalized image and strategy has clearly yielded results as they bettered their two previous MOST positions  (5th in 2009 and 3rd in 2010) to scoop the overall prize in 2011.
Freshly Ground Insights MD Brad Aigner believes that the key to DStv Media Sales’ win is its high industry rating of knowledge of its own brands and of the broader media industry – assets highly-prized by media agency and client partners. “What I see in the data is a company that has delivered consistently high criteria scores since 2009 and which has steadily improved against some of the criteria year-on-year.  Top leadership transition has also been fantastically managed,” says Aigner.

The MOST Awards were initiated in 2009 with the aim of creating excellence in media owner marketing and sales. In collaboration with the Advertising Media Forum (AMF), the MOST Awards aimed to ignite a renewed passion and professionalism within the media-sales arena, from management and sales staff alike.

Oracle Airtime Sales had a strong pedigree in the media awards space. The company had previously won 9 out of 10 overall awards in the former MOMA (Media Owners Marketing Awards) before regrouping to take the overall prize again in 2011.

DStv Media Sales CEO Chris Hitchings says that the telling factor for the company in 2011 has been an improvement in service levels. “The challenge for us now lies in maintaining those levels and hanging onto our top spot.  One of the key things for us is that the whole business has contributed to this success. People are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and that will drive us all to keep the standards up. It’s harder to stay at the top than get to the top.”

The DStv-i return path channel audience metering system undoubtedly played a role in the company’s improved service and success. Launched in early 2011, DStv-i – the only system of its kind in Africa – has established a common currency across the DStv platform for channels and advertisers. Delivering robust audience sample sizes at an individual channel level, DStv-i has facilitated the development of a new sales model which provides the opportunity to guarantee audience delivery.

M-Net CEO Patricia van Rooyen said of DStv Media Sales’ most-recent success: “I am very proud to have DStv Media Sales represent all the M-Net channels on the DStv platform across the continent. They are professional, knowledgeable and have the backing of great data in the form of DStv-i. Their award is well-deserved.”

Amanda Turnbull, Director Client Services, Discovery Networks CEEMEA says that DStv Media Sales’ win is a tribute to the team’s hard work. “DStv Media Sales have been a great partner for Discovery Networks in South Africa and this achievement is a testament to their high standard of client service and performance. They continuously help us to achieve our business objectives in the market through a deep understanding of our portfolio of factual entertainment brands,” says Turnbull.

DStv Media Sales recently secured a stake in The SpaceStation, which won the Digital category. Overall, The SpaceStation moved up from sixteenth to seventh between 2009 and 2011. Congratulating them on their success, Hitchings believes that the collaboration between traditional television medium and the online space is the future of media sales. “We’re always looking at innovative packaging and our partnership with The SpaceStation has opened up new avenues,” he says. “Part of our mission statement is that we strive to reach DStv viewers across multiple platforms and the growth of The SpaceStation is delivering some exciting opportunities for media owners”.

The SpaceStation MD Mike Luscombe says his hard-working team is delighted with their success. “A third successive win in the Digital category and a second year in the Top 10 overall, is a really pleasing result for us,” he says. “With ‘digital’ still perceived as a marginal media allocation in most marketing budgets, this result highlights our commitment to service levels and innovation, and is great recognition of the effort put in by The SpaceStation team.  Our joint performance with DStv Media Sales highlights the potential of our strategic alignment.”

Absa and DigiCore unveil public transport sector solution

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

The two companies have kicked off a pilot project in the Western Cape and are also already exploring opportunities with associations in other provinces.

In line with Absa’s ongoing pursuit to provide innovative products and services that enhance customer service, the new tap-and-go payment cards will provide transit owners and commuters with a simple and efficient way to manage payments for transport services.  Absa pioneered the tap-and-go solution towards the latter part of last year.

As part of national transport infrastructure upgrades, the Department of Transport and local transport authorities have been driving new card-based approaches to fare collection. These will require commuters to tap a prepaid card against readers to pay their transport fares as they enter public vehicles.

The aim is to provide commuters with speed, simplicity and convenience when they travel. The new cards will use global card standards, namely MasterCard Paypass and Visa Paywave. They are designed to work seamlessly in a number of modes of transport as they are brought online.

“The tap-and-go payment method will also allow commuters and other consumers to conveniently pay for low value purchases in retail outlets. So, a customer can move from a taxi to a bus to a grocer using the same card on the same day. As of 2012, commuters will even be able to have this payment option on their normal bank cards,” says Simon Just, head of consumer cards at Absa Card.

“Although adoption of this trendsetting service will be gradual, it is gaining momentum,” says Just. “A few major city bus operators and key retailers are starting to roll out tap-and-go payments, and the bank will make it possible for its customers to obtain Absa tap-and-go cards from selected Absa branches as from November 2011.”

Tap-and-Go transactions will be limited to R200 per day and users will be able to load a maximum of R1 500 on the card at any time. The total monthly transaction limit is R3 000.

“This is in line with the special exemption from the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, which makes for ease of issuing of contactless cards to under-banked consumers,” Just adds.

Commuters will be able to load funds onto their cards from a bank account or with cash at a transit or station kiosk, vending machines, ATMs or selected merchants. Customers can then make purchases with their contactless card until the pre-loaded balance is used up by simply agreeing to the amount and tapping the card against a reader. No PIN (Personal Identification Number) or signature is required.

For public transport operators, the new fare collection system reduces pilferage, provides a more secure alternative to cash and paper tickets and significantly enhances overall efficiencies.

DigiCore’s IFCS has developed a robust fare collection solution called Tap-i-Fare™ for transit operators, which uses advanced route planning, GPS and vehicle tracking technology, to calculate fares and ensure that commuters are charged correctly for their journey.

“While today’s announcement marks the fact that the solution has been tested and that Absa and DigiCore are open for business, there is still much work to do with taxi associations and other stakeholders in order to finalise the operating model and roll-out plans,” says Pierre Bruwer, Managing Director of IFCS.

The Tap-i-Fare™ solution offers taxi owners and associations a mutually beneficial solution that will make a difference in the everyday life of the commuter. “We have engaged a number of taxi owners, operators and associations. They appreciate the benefits of the new approach to rapid transit payments. We are confident that it will be embraced in the way that government has intended.” says Bruwer.

“With this new tap-and-go payment solution for public transport, Absa continues to take the lead in providing simple payment solutions to the South African public. We have the opportunity to offer these in the unbanked market. Eventually, our aim is to empower all our customer segments to use other banking services such as the ATMs and point-of-sale terminals,” concludes Just.

BlackBerry Innovation Forum 2011 around the corner

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Hosted by Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution, will feature presentations from top business and technology speakers as well as a showcase of the latest mobile business solutions. The forum forms part of a series of events taking place throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa brings together business leaders and mobile innovators.

This year, the BlackBerry Innovation Forum will focus on the theme of Enterprising Minds and how organisations can empower staff to deliver real customer value. The day’s presentations and solutions showcase will focus on the most important mobile trends including social networking, mobile commerce, consumerisation of IT, migration to the cloud and tablet computing.

The event is a perfect opportunity for businesses across all sectors and industries to find out how they can benefit from smartphone and tablet technology and delegates will get a first-hand view of the breadth of solutions offered by the BlackBerry platform and its partners.

Attendees of the event can meet existing BlackBerry platform customers who will be speaking at the event to describe the challenges they have faced and successes they have had in implementing the BlackBerry® solution.

Rory O’Neill, Vice President of Software and Services for EMEA at RIM, will be keynote speaker at the event. With his role in building compelling mobile application, software and cloud services propositions for the BlackBerry platform, he will be able to offer lucid and actionable insights into the mobile trends enterprises need to be watching in the months to come.

Thomas Jankovich, a FutureWorld Guru and the leader of the Innovation and Growth service within Deloitte Consulting in South Africa, will be the innovation speaker at the Forum. He consults widely to blue-chip multinational clients on how to achieve sustainable profitable growth through innovation and is a leading global thinker about the trends that will shape the future of business.

SA does well in eyes of foreigners after World cup

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

At the same time, South Africans have regained the confidence in themselves that they lost during the public sector strike last year.

The study was conducted by the Reputation Institute, and forms part of a global study conducted of the reputations of a wide range of countries around the world. The study is done annually in January.

Dr Dominik Heil, Managing Director of the Reputation Institute in South Africa, notes that year-on-year, South Africa’s reputation has steadily improved, from a score of 44.27 in January 2009, to 44.60 in January 2010, and 46.70 in January 2011 (score scale 0-100).

While some of the reputation capital from the World Cup has been sustained, the country has not been able to maintain the “high” achieved at the end of the tournament when South Africa saw its reputation score spike at 49.11 in August 2010.

Top driver of South Africa’s reputation amongst people of the G8 countries in 2011 is whether people are welcoming and friendly, while the perception of whether the country is a safe place is the second most important of the 16 drivers measured in 2011 .

South Africa achieves a weak score of 57.84 in the top driver, and its reputation score as a safe place is considered poor at 37.32. Perceptions of the effectiveness of the government only achieve a weak score of 41.6. The country scores the highest in – physical beauty (72.19) and enjoyment (71.21) – however these are only the 5th and 7th most important drivers of South Africa’s reputation among people in the G8 countries.

“This indicates that we can improve our reputation by working hard on safety and effective government. Recent gains that have been announced in safety and security are therefore really important and bode well for us in building a stronger reputation,” Dr Heil said.

Out of the 50 countries measured in 2011, South Africa  continues to be associated with mid-scale reputation countries such as Puerto Rico, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and Egypt and this year was ranked 33rd in the world.

“One could say we are considered one of the more upstanding emerging markets achieving a reputation score comparable to these countries,” Dr Heil added.

The findings of the survey were also interesting in terms of South Africa’s involvement in the BRIC countries, Dr Heil noted.

“While it’s an advantage to be associated with Brazil and India, with their relatively solid reputations at 22nd and 27th places in the world rankings, it is questionable to lump ourselves with China at 43rd position and Russia at 45th position, both of which have major democratic and human rights deficits. While aligning South Africa to BRIC makes sense economically, it doesn’t in terms of reputation factors,” he said.

Several new countries were included in the 2011 survey including, for the first time, two additional countries in Africa – Egypt and Nigeria. The survey ranked Egypt at 37th position, however Nigeria, languishes at 47th position, ahead only of Pakistan, Iran and Iraq.

Amongst South Africans themselves, the country’s rating had shown some recovery from the serious dive it took during the 2010 public sector strike, when perceptions dropped from 67.78 points at the beginning of the year to 56.00 points post-World Cup. An additional study of South Africa was commissioned in August 2010 after the completion of the World Cup, so that perceptions before and after this event could be compared.

Dr Heil says this indicates that South Africans have a somewhat fickle view of their country which is easily swayed in a way that would not happen in a country with a really well established identity.

“When something negative happens, we allow it to affect our connection to our country in a negative way. This suggests that our sense of belonging to this nation is rather tenuous,” he said.

Canada is the best regarded country in the world in 2011, while Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand are in the next four positions. Norway, Denmark, Finland, Austria and Netherlands make up the rest of the top ten countries in the world.

In conducting the survey, the Reputation Institute asks respondents to measure four emotional factors – esteem, admiration, feeling and trust – on a scale of 1 to 7. These are used to determine the Country RepTrak™ score which can range from 0 to 100 points.

Respondents are then asked to rate the country reputation attributes on a scale of 1 to 7. These ratings determine which of the attributes most strongly influences the emotional factors.

Overall, the biggest driver of country reputation in 2011 is ‘Friendly and welcoming’, with ‘Safe place’ in second position. Least important is ‘Technological advancement’.

Leapfrog unveils tablet aimed at kids

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

LeapFrog’s LeapPad combines the latest technology, enhanced educational curriculum and entertaining characters to fuel a child’s learning in a durable form that mirrors popular adult tablets. LeapPad is revolutionizing the way children learn by offering the next generation in learning, digital reading and personal creativity. Designed with best-in-class educational curriculum and featuring endless and fun ways to play, this new tablet will be on every family’s wish list this year.

Tech Specs

LeapPad has 2 GB of memory, and a 5” touch screen with 480×272 resolution.  It offers kids motion-based play with a sensor and includes a built-in camera, video recorder, microphone and stylus.

Availability

LeapPad will be available at selected stores nationwide from 1st October 2011 and will retail from R1300.00.

Opinion: Communications consolidation: The strategic fundamentals

By admin, 22 września, 2011, No Comment

By Karl Reed, Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer at Elingo

Corporate life has long featured a gulf between the interests, motivations, budgets and actions of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) department and, well, everyone else. This was true as long as communication technologies were largely hidden aspects of how humans interact. The notorious “Big Room” housing the company contact centre was an obvious manifestation of how separate ICT was from the rest of the company, on strategic and practical levels.

In the last decade, however, social media has turned communication on its head. The results of the social media shift are visible in the corporate boardroom, where profoundly changing consumer behaviour is forcing CIOs, COOs, CEOs and CFOs into collective responsibility for a company’s strategic development and operational successes. Today, the bottom line is pretty simple: business success requires an ICT department that is fully integrated into the wider business strategy.

 

Much of this change in strategic orientation is a reflection of the extraordinary flattening out of communications that is occurring across the world. But in South Africa, this revolution is wrapped up in the equally powerful mobile access revolution. The mobile phone is taking its place as our primary connectivity tool thanks to its ability to by-pass many of the frustrating infrastructure hindrances that continue to challenge the common man. Add spiralling mobile use to the general Social Media boom and you have a communication relationship between brand and consumer that is so fluid it’s almost impossible to pin down.

This pattern has created an extremely challenging communication context for companies, where increasingly demanding consumers are expecting uniform levels of service and information across multiple channels (fax, email, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and devices (computers, smartphones, mobile phones, iPads, Kindles and iPhones). Brands simply have to cater to all these channels and devices, and most consumers couldn’t care less what technical challenges have to be dealt with to deliver the service. If the communication isn’t happening on their terms, they are increasingly likely to jump to a better equipped rival.

Thus companies are being forced to establish a consolidated, enterprise wide communications architecture able to cope with any communications context and unfettered by operational ring-fencing. There are many strategic and operational benefits to be gained from such consolidation; apart from the crucial ability to talk to consumers on their terms, a consolidated system offers the kind of high level strategic lens that allows decision makers to truly understand and assess what’s going on in each division or business unit. Also, if executed correctly, it has the ability to dramatically reduce the overall cost of doing business.

With so many variables at play, it’s one thing to decide on a consolidated communications architecture and quite another to actually put it into practice. In South Africa, some companies are baulking at the challenge and appear to be hoping the new communications context will simply disappear and stop bothering them, while others are literally throwing the kitchen sink at making sure their systems are not only able to cope with today’s demands, but are also able to seamlessly scale (up and down) according to future needs.

For those embracing the challenge, the first crucial step is to understand the full scope of the market driver’s influencing the decision. Does the brand need to deliver better service across the board, or in a specific area? Are customers pushing for key changes in communications options? What are those changes? Has reporting become a cost-intensive internal nightmare?  Every business case is different, and it is essential that decision makers fully understanding the fine details of their specific market context before making any bold consolidation moves. As always, it is essential that tactics are informed by a strong strategy if they are going to deliver the expected results.

Once the strategic backdrop has been put in place, the next step is to find a strong partner to work with – that means a proven company with a track record in migrating clients from silo-orientated communications architecture to a consolidated one. The quality of such a partnership is especially important because of the intense, long term nature of the exercise. Implementing a consolidated communication system is at the very least a one year project, and is likely to end up in the 12 – 24 month range in most cases. It’s a mission-critical transition that can and does deliver massive savings and sharpened market performance – but never if approached half heartedly. A partner that understands the terrain and has proven credentials will take considerable responsibility for successful execution onto its shoulders, and will also bring vital insights into elements of the process, such as internal communication.

Given the high stakes and challenges involved, it’s easy to see why some companies are simply avoiding the consolidation imperative. But when one considers the rate of change currently prevalent in how, why, where and when the world is communicating, Executives must heed the consolidation call in order to address this challenge.

Opinion: Prevent lock-in, obsolescence and over-charging with standards-based VoIP

By admin, 22 września, 2011, No Comment

by Connection telecom

Many companies today stipulate a need for ‘investment protection’ in their telephony systems. In other words, they want the assurance that their phone system won’t require a full ‘forklift migration’ at upgrade time due to ‘closed’ standards, and that it won’t spring so many hidden cost surprises that, in the end, they’re left with a white elephant.

“These are highly valid considerations,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom, “and quite frankly, they’re the result of two things – the opaque business practices prevalent in the bad old days of monolithic telcos, and the non-standard technology of the powerful ‘legacy’ tech vendors of yesteryear.”

Open standards

Telephony vendors that have been in business since the days before Voice over IP (VoIP) have responded to this revolutionary technology with complex, non-standard reengineering of their systems.

This approach has the drawback of requiring specialised knowledge to manage system changes and maintain them, which drives up customers’ total cost of ownership. In effect, the customer must accept ‘vendor lock-in’ without the option of choosing a system from another vendor, unless they’re willing to fork out for a full replacement or expensive integration.

By contrast, new-world IP-based vendors have had the luxury of designing their systems from the ground up based on the future-proof IP protocol – the universal protocol for converged communications – and its dominant standard SIP, or session initiation protocol. In doing so, they can offer investment protection because their systems are open-ended and ‘interoperate’ with solutions from other vendors.

Why is it necessary for systems to ‘play nicely’ with others?

  • You may wish to add to the system (for example, when a new application such as low-bandwidth video-conferencing hits the market).
  • You will have to replace end-of-life (EOL) components when the time comes (such as your access gateway or router), and being able to do so piecemeal definitely beats a forklift upgrade.
  • You might simply want to ‘interface’ with other network elements (like the standards-compliant fibre access line you plan to get one day).
  • You will definitely want to make calls to other companies (unlike users of, for example, Skype, who cannot phone non-Skype VOIP systems)
  • Standards-based VoIP leaves you in control – with it you can use any SIP-compatible phone with any SIP-compatible server.
  • You can even choose a SIP-to-PSTN gateway service provider, since open standards VoIP can interface to the old analogue networks.

Transparent fees and charges

Besides overcoming the headache of ‘closed’ (proprietary) technology, standards-based VoIP also bypasses the prohibitive charges of the bad old days of monopolistic telcos – experienced at one time or another in all countries.

In stark contrast with this bygone era of secrets and exploitation, VoIP has a transparent business model with published interconnect rates and calculable margins. Since Icasa, South Africa’s telecommunications regulator, undertook to reduce call costs, the rate telcos pay to connect calls to each other has become public knowledge, increasing the pressure to price more keenly and not just what the market will bear.

In other ways, too, the technology can offer predictable costs. If based on open standards, it allows for a greater breadth of skills that can perform system maintenance and support, thus injecting greater competitiveness into the market.

In addition, systems extensions and extra features need not be a closed, costly acquisition. Standard IP platforms (such as the widely-used Asterisk VoIP PBX) can be extended by any IP communications engineer.

In addition, VOIP platforms like Asterisk come with all functionality pre-included, making new functionality a simple software upgrade. This makes the old method of loading the bill with professional services impossible.

The same goes for hosted (cloud PBX) offerings.

Keeping it out in the open

All in all, VoIP offers opportunity for openness in your dealings with your telecoms provider – just another reason why the bad old days are best left behind us.

Opinion: Will the cloud replace classic IT?

By admin, 22 września, 2011, No Comment

By Roelof Louw, Cloud Expert at T-Systems in South Africa

The proliferation of cloud computing has seen some people happily floating on cloud nine and prophesise an inevitable paradigm shift in IT while others believe it is really just a rebottled and labelled version of an existing technology.  Indeed, there are few other IT topics that generate a wider chasm in opinions.

And yes – the advantages are clear: computing power and storage on demand, billing models to complement the demand model, low investment risk, access to applications without prior installation onto the end terminal, direct integration of smart phones and tablet PCs – even the complete outsourcing of the IT infrastructure is possible.

Low power consumption is also a significant contribution to environmental protection. Many companies therefore turn to IT resources and applications from the cloud. IDC analyst Frank Gens even refers to cloud computing as the IT engine of the next twenty years.

However, cloud computing is no silver bullet and whilst the arguments are convincing, it is definitely not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

Sensitive data, regulatory compliance and security are some of the most pertinent discussions around the feasibility of cloud. Not all data can be moved across company borders, much less into foreign countries.

Corporations increasingly voice concerns about ensuring data privacy, including making sure that foreign government agencies do not have access to sensitive competitive data and intellectual property.

The challenge is to understand what does fit into the cloud model and how this will benefit a prospective cloud user. Public clouds quickly reach their limits as it is just that, public. Private and hybrid cloud solutions, however, offer ways to solve these issues and leverage the advantages of cloud.

For example, with a private cloud it is possible to define clear jurisdictions for each individual company – T-Systems in South Africa has its very own dedicated data centre for cloud users. Access rights for user groups can be narrowed down to a very small circle that has access to the most sensitive data which cannot even be seen by the responsible administrator.

Private clouds also offer the dynamic operation of business-critical services through the implementation of service levels. And all this can be achieved without compromising functions on the customer’s side.

Even though cloud solutions are rapidly available for use – the jump into the cloud must not be done as an end in itself. A significant reduction of costs or the rapid mobile integration of applications is only reasonable when it involves a real business case.

Therefore, ensure that you do partner with experts that provide suitable consulting services to reconcile the new cloud services with the existing IT world and its business processes. And importantly, opt for a service provider that meets global standards and roll it out in a local manner.

QlikView adds value to SAP implementation at Senwes

By admin, 22 września, 2011, No Comment

Business requirement

At the beginning of 2011, the group invited proposals for a business analysis tool that would give it insight into a range of operating areas, starting with retail.

Martin van Zyl, Senwes general manager – IT, says the group runs a SAP enterprise backbone. It required a business intelligence (BI) solution to be installed on top of SAP Business Warehouse (SBW 7.0).

“We needed a fast implementation cycle, ease of development and use, as well as flexibility, to adapt it to other models. Lastly, we wanted to be self-sufficient and not rely on consultants for ongoing development and enhancements.”

Proof of concept

A proof of concept was commissioned from QlikView partner RIC Consulting (September 2010). The company’s target dataset comprised all Senwes’s retail sales information, ranging back one year.

Van Zyl says RIC utilising QlikView delivered “unbelievably quick” answers (within three days), providing emphatic proof of the solution’s speed of implementation. By comparison, a competitor took two weeks.

Quick to implement

In February 2011 the company purchased a QlikView Enterprise Server with 40 client licenses as well as QlikView’s SAP Connector, and gave the go-ahead for RIC to develop a retail solution covering Senwes’s 28 stores, each including six profit centres (such as in-store, bulk goods and fuel).

“They wanted a dashboard of retail performance across a range of metrics, including gross and net profit, expenses, stock turn and so forth,” says Helena Korb, strategic director and project consultant at RIC Consulting.

Again, delivery exceeded expectation. Senwes went live with the full retail data model within 15 days (February 2011), but Korb concedes the data had already been rendered analysis-ready by virtue of their prior inclusion in SBW.

Van Zyl says the company got all it wanted, plus the benefit of seeing the outcome and impacts of decisions from QlikView’s ‘what-if’ analysis.” This revealed possibilities for further development.

Flexible

“After looking at retail sales from a performance point of view, we also decided to view it from a customer angle. While stock turnover patterns feed into inventory management, it could also inform customer management and marketing campaigns.”

He discloses that, in preparation for large-scale adoption of the solution, the company had sent two SAP consultants on QlikView training. The company was therefore by now skilled enough to continue with further development on its own. “The data model was very flexible, allowing us to change the design to the customer model,” he says.

In addition, users had been trained in-house, by the two consultants. “While retail staff were not schooled in drawing queries and reports, QlikView was very easy to get to grips with,” Van Zyl reports.

“QlikView is very intuitive; it works the way our brains work,” adds Korb. “Data associations can be retained thanks to QlikView’s in-memory architecture, so when users drill down, they don’t have to know data hierarchies.”

Payback

Van Zyl says Senwes has seen (unquantified) return on investment in the speedy implementation and development of BI data models, their rapid adoption, as well as expedited business decision-making.

“The biggest benefit was the rapid decision-making,” says Van Zyl. “To collate information from SAP into a format that the business can use used to take days. Now it takes minutes.

Future data models

In due course, the retail and customer data models were joined by a grain stock management model, Van Zyl continues. Future data models will include a grain contracts management dashboard and an overall strategy execution dashboard for Senwes.

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