Restaurant Brands Limited (RBL) operates the New Zealand outlets of iconic food brands KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks Coffee, and Carl's Jr. The company employs more than 4,000 staff and every day serves over 60,000 customers throughout New Zealand. Consequently Restaurant Brands generates a lot of data – millions of records every day.
Having ready access to that data and to detailed, timely information across all areas of the business – from supplier and stock management to customer satisfaction and sales - is essential to the efficient, effective delivery of quality products and a consistent brand experience. But RBL’s existing technology platform was no longer up to task, and it was difficult, time consuming and required specialised skills to access the data collected by the Micros restaurant enterprise system. The existing data warehouse had design issues, RBL had no dashboarding or visualisation capability, and it was difficult to integrate the recently acquired brand, Carl’s Jr., into the system.
Switching to Microsoft business intelligence
RBL was keen to build a new data warehouse that would be more relevant to their needs, and to migrate to a more modern platform. The self-service in-memory capability of Power BI tools such as PowerPivot, Power View and Power Map was a compelling offering for Restaurant Brands, who needed to be able to refresh data and produce reports quickly and on demand – for example to look at what happened in a particular store yesterday, and most importantly, why. The Microsoft BI stack puts the power in the hands of business users to do this. By using PowerPivot for Excel, RBL can transform enormous quantities of data with incredible speed into meaningful information - to get the business answers in seconds. And with Power View, users can explore, visualise and present data intuitively and on-demand. The familiarity of the Microsoft BI toolset, and in particular Excel, was another key advantage, and one that has already been realised:
“As an analyst we live and breathe excel. This prototype model has enabled us to explore our business operations, quickly and in real time.” Herman Pretorius, Commercial Manager Finance
Theta was selected to develop a business intelligence system built on the Microsoft BI stack, to demonstrate what could be done with Restaurant Brands’ plentiful, valuable data, as well as a broader strategy for future developments.
Pragmatic business intelligence and a proof-of-concept
Because Restaurant Brands’ data access needs were urgent, the first step was to quickly design and deliver a solution for key business users, for business analysis, reporting and actionable insights. The approach developed, which delivers information assets into the hands of users as quickly and easily as possible, for maximum utility and value, was a pragmatic way to kick off this project.
It also provided a prototype for a more complete business intelligence solution, and an opportunity to spend some time getting business input prior to designing the planned SQL Server 2012 data warehouse.
Theta designed and delivered a solution that exposes the existing MyMicros sales, inventory and labour data to relevant stakeholders via Excel 2013 using PowerPivot – allowing users to understand what data is available in source systems, to produce Excel reports based on this data, and to analyse the data as required. Data sources from three of RBL’s brands have been integrated into this solution, and star models developed so the business can examine and report on areas of interest. In just one month, we delivered three PowerPivot models, looking at sales, labour costs and inventory. The resulting reports are lightning fast, and the visualisations and dashboards produced using Power View and Power Map make it much easier for users to make sense of their data.
With the proof-of-concept phase of this project complete. RBL is now able to harness the speed, power and visualisation capability of Microsoft BI tools to better understand what’s happening in key areas of the business, store by store and cost centre by cost centre. Six users, including the Commercial Manager Finance, analysts, and other members of the senior leadership team are already using the prototype system extensively.
“Our users love having this system, it’s much easier to access data than ever before, and there’s been a lot of very positive feedback.” Geoff Holton, General Manager - Information Systems, Restaurant Brands Ltd
The benefits of prototyping
As well as insights – and resulting business improvements – already delivered, the first phase of Restaurant Brand’s new BI roadmap provides the company with another key – and long-term – advantage. Geoff Holton explains:
“Providing the business with the opportunity to use, play with and think about data and data models before we get to the design stage with our new data warehouse is a fundamental benefit of this prototype approach. Because we’ve had the opportunity to think about our data and how it’s structured, the data warehouse, when we build it later this year, will be highly relevant to the particular needs of the Restaurant Brands business. We expect this to deliver great rewards down the track.”
RBL analysts love the speed, power and flexibility that the new system delivers:
“Not only can we build easily updatable dashboards that the business can access, the model allows the analyst community the level of freedom that I have not seen before”
“The speed and ready access to data at a detailed level is astounding. Goodbye to the days of waiting for your report to run and then dropping it into excel for analysis”
Many businesses are in a similar situation to RBL, with outdated systems limiting access to valuable data. The approach developed in this solution uses Microsoft BI tools to unlock that data and put it in the hands of users, and is therefore widely applicable to many businesses. In addition, the MyMicros POS system is extensively used throughout the restaurant industry worldwide. This solution is a readily applicable, quick to implement business intelligence solution for any business using MyMicros.
This solution was a finalist in the Microsoft NZ Partner Awards 2015, in the Application Platform: Data Analytics category.
SQL Server 2012