Case Study: Business intelligence at Carphone Warehouse

By Sooraj Shah
23 Aug 2012 View Comments
Carphone Warehouse in Lakeside Essex

In a bid to improve its store performance and customer marketing, mobile retailer Carphone Warehouse has used business intelligence (BI) software by MicroStrategy as opposed to rival Information Builders because the dashboards created by MicroStrategy were "more professional".

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In an interview with Computing, head of BI development at Carphone Warehouse (CW) Paul Scullion said that the company had a legacy reporting platform that was way past retirement age.

"It was a combination of Business Objects, Crystal Reports and Data Extraction from SAP Source Systems and SQL servers, so not a strict data or BI policy," he said.

He said that although the retailer already had a relationship with MicroStrategy it decided to assess the top five vendors according to analyst reviews and internal knowledge of BI.

"The final two vendors were MicroStrategy and Information Builders and they both put together proof of concepts of dashboards for us, and MicroStrategy won because of the relative ease of deployment of creating new dashboards, an out of box functionality and visualisation widgets where we could just plug our data into it and come up with something that looked very professional," he said.

Scullion said that the other vendors tools required too much of a technical delivery and Carphone Warehouse ran the risk of producing amateur looking dashboards without a high level of technical involvement.

"Carphone planned to use business rather than IT resources to create dashboards and hence needed a tool that did not require a high level of technical development to produce something that looked and worked great," he explained.

He added that speaking to existing MicroStrategy customers convinced him that MicroStrategy could scale to CW's 2,500 branches across Europe.

"We knew that all branch managers would be logging in at 9:30 in the morning on a Monday morning to see the latest figures and we needed to make sure the technology was robust and scalable to cope with that demand," he said.

After signing a contract with MicroStrategy two years ago, CW had to overhaul its infrastructure to ensure it could get the best out of its new business intelligence software. It also migrated much of its data from an Oracle data warehouse to one from Netezza.

"What we're trying to do with the Netezza data warehouse is create a strategic enterprise-wide BI platform. We were in a position where we had hundreds of users with access to create whatever they wanted, so there was no consistency in information presented and conflicts with data use. We're using MicroStrategy to drive a mantra of the single vision of the truth," he said.

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