NISA Retail

, Nov 19, 2014

Consultative Approach Transforms Business Intelligence for Nisa Retail

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Nisa Retail is the UK’s leading member-owned organisation in the convenience retail sector. With more than 1,000 members, well over 2,500 stores and an annual turnover of £1.6 billion, Nisa has the opportunity to negotiate the best deals and strongest promotions. This enables its members to compete at the highest level and all the while supported by an award winning logistics service.

The Challenge

Operating in the fast-paced competitive convenience sector, Nisa Retail wanted to transform the organisation’s existing use of Business Intelligence (BI), to enable business users to gain deeper insight from multiple data sources, to better inform key business decisions and help shape the company’s proposition and drive growth.

David Morris is Head of IT at Nisa Retail, he explained, “Our incumbent Business Intelligence solution, an aging version of IBM Cognos hosted on-premise, gave us a glimpse of what was possible with BI and analytics, but we knew we could do more. Without the expertise or resource available in-house to maintain it and leverage the technology, we wanted to adopt a new, more strategic approach that would pool all data sources from right across the business and put the right information, in the right users’ hands at the right time, at speed.”

“We’d worked with Logicalis for many years; leveraging their expertise in Business Intelligence, analytics and IBM Cognos made perfect sense to help us get more value-add from our solution and in turn, help us position the IT department internally as a key enabler for the business.”

Nisa first engaged with Logicalis in 2002 for consultancy on IBM infrastructure and services, which has continued to support all its main warehousing, merchandising and ecommerce solutions and a disaster recovery platform.

In 2009, Logicalis’ services were again called upon for the refresh of Nisa’s virtual servers and VMWare estate, consolidating all of the consortium’s data with one storage area network. So, in 2013 when Nisa embarked upon this new Business Intelligence project, it turned to Logicalis as its proven ICT services provider. Morris commented, “Having worked with Logicalis for over a decade, they’d proven themselves as a suitable technology partner and consultant, and we’d built up a great relationship. Also, our commitment to IBM as our vendor of choice goes back even further to the late ‘90s, so Logicalis’ strong partnership with them made for an extremely compelling proposition.”

The Solution

Logicalis recommended the latest version of IBM Cognos, hosted on Logicalis’ cloud platform. The new solution would provide added functionality for data analysis, greater user experience, and at the same time allow Nisa to leverage its own knowledge of the solution, whilst the cloud would prove far more cost effective and ensure greater performance and agility.

Morris added, “This solution came with a number of new features that could speed up processing data from a multitude of sources within the organisation significantly, a key driver behind the investment. Sticking with IBM also meant we would be able hit the ground running, utilising the skills and knowledge acquired in-house from using the existing offering.”

“Hosting the solution in the cloud meant we no longer had to worry about maintaining this part of our infrastructure inhouse, which will prove far more economical moving forward, in terms to both IT resource and hardware expenditure - removing the solution from a costly refresh cycle. In addition, the cloud platform will provide us with the highest level of performance, delivering the capacity required for our data analysis as and when we need it.”

The Outcome

The process by which data is processed and then presented to the business teams for use, was transformed. Whereas previously it was taking Morris and his team days to build data cubes, it now just takes a matter of hours with far greater consistency.

He comments, “As we look to mesh together data from warehousing and logistics, to what customers are buying, where and when, Logicalis is providing us with absolute consultancy, supporting us and teaching us how to get the most out of this new service. The information garnered is helping us to shape and refine our proposition, such as negotiating better costs with our suppliers, directly benefitting our retailers’ bottom line – enabling them to be even more competitive on the high-street.”

Nisa’s IT is able to process new data far more easily and faster. Nisa’s business users, who utilise this data within their day-to-day roles are also feeling the benefits; where the on-premise system was often cumbersome and slow, this new version of Cognos, hosted via Logicalis’ cloud platform is providing far more performance. Users can now deep dive and drill into information instantly, with no delay or latency on the system, providing a great user experience. 

Morris added, “Like all successful organisations, we’re keen to keep costs down, but we also want to be lean and strategic, focusing the IT department on areas that really help drive the business forward. The solution has re-invigorated our use of Business Intelligence. Our previous solution was viewed as something that simply existed to help Nisa’s business users get from A to B in their roles. Now, as they dive deeper than ever before into our data, effortlessly, the solution is regarded as a key tool for delivering tangible business benefits and informing key decisions.”

“Logicalis is not a traditional IT reseller. At no point has the commercial side outweighed their focus on delivering a service, the team is flexible in its approach and tailored to responding to our business needs. They’re true consultants and we look forward to working with them long into the future.”

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