Creating an intelligent business

German mobile network operator taps into the power of big data with Microsoft BI

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 23 December 2015
Creating an intelligent business

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of OnWindows magazine.

E-Plus Group is one of Germany’s largest mobile network operators, serving around 26 million customers. The company has operated a successful multi-brand strategy since 2005 and includes names such as BASE, simyo, and AY YILDIZ and Ortel Mobile.

Due to this infrastructure, the group is in the enviable position of being able to respond to customer requirements more effectively than its competitors and make inexpensive and customised offerings.

 The company adds around 600 million new data sets to its existing library of around 10 billion factual data sets each month. This means that isolating relevant information and creating actionable insights was a challenging prospect.

“We ultimately want to understand our customers, to be able to offer them better products, which are at best customised to individual requirements,” explains Joachim Peters, team leader, Management Information and Business Intelligence of the E-Plus Group. “The jewel, which needs to be enhanced in this respect, is the data available in the company.”

In order to gain a greater insight from its data, E-Plus worked with business intelligence (BI) specialist ORAYLIS, and in the first phase created a Business Warehouse based on ­Microsoft BI. This was attached to the old ­Oracle DWH solution.

“Far too much data landed in far too many OLAP cubes, and too much participant, utilisation and planning data from the enterprise resource planning system was not integrated,” says Peters.

The company worked with ORAYLIS on what was named the ‘4th Generation BI’ project, which saw the consolidation of all E-Plus’ data sources onto a big data platform using an Analytics Platform System (APS).

This APS was based on a high-performance Microsoft Analytics Platform System appliance running Microsoft’s SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, SQL Server Integration Services and SQL Server Analysis Services.

A sophisticated project management tool – with individual iterations and without specifications – was also selected to help support the 4th Generation BI project.

E-Plus Group also knew the importance of creating a new corporate culture that enhances BI competence. To this end, the company set up a BI Competence Center (BICC), staffed by employees with a combination of technical and expert knowledge.

“These combined skills are the key to success, for the magic is there when people talk to each other who actually understand both worlds,” explains Peters. “Staff who can investigate something with technological opportunities is essential, which is what Microsoft offers today.”

Staff involved with the BICC – which includes analysts and data scientists – work to develop proactive ideas, discover new connections and create tools for the company’s various departments through data integration. Furthermore, standardised dimensions and centrally defined key data helps ensure users stay on the right track while exploring the vast amounts of collected information.

With the new big data platform based on Microsoft BI, E-Plus benefits from a host of new opportunities to create innovative pricing models and interesting offers for customers. By being able to analyse data more effectively, the company can also create more appropriate prediction models and evaluate the efficacy of its offerings. Internal processes have also been optimised, and operating costs have been reduced in a sustainable manner.

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