Europris sets the stage for automated processes with a new platform for analytics and integration

Jan-Kaare Moskaug og Andreas Munch

Data and insights are essential for every business to run its operations. For Europris, this means having confidence in the data and making it accessible - both to humans and business applications. Europris no longer uses the term "data warehouse", and instead focuses on modern cloud-based platforms for analytics and integration.

From left: Ole Petter Harv, Andreas Munch and Thomas Nakken.

Numbers matter

The numbers are a source of pride for many aspects of Europris's business, especially when it comes to sales results and gross profit. When Ole Petter Harv, the IT Director of Europris, visits the stores, he sees that store managers and their deputies have a good understanding. If there are any errors or inconsistencies in the data, employees are quick to report them, whether they work in stores or other parts of the company. 

You should rely on your gross profit, and that's what our people do. It's not something to take for granted. We navigate the ship by the numbers every week, and they have to be accurate. A store manager who notices that the numbers don't match, alerts us. It's a good sign for us that they care about how their store is represented in the reports," says Ole Petter Harv, IT Director at Europris. 

Maintaining focus and quality in the sales figures is essential, as this is data that is used by all the business units, up to the store manager level. It's important to be confident that all the data has a quality that allows Europris to trust its reports. Any deviations will lead to errors down the chain, which the IT director says will be very expensive and have major impacts on the business.

Has succeeded well – so far

Evidi has been a key partner for Europris in several delivery areas, and Harv credits this for its success. This gives access to expertise, and also flexibility and efficiency in internal deliveries and projects. 

Data engineer Andreas Munch at Evidi has worked with Europris for over a decade. He says that Europris has succeeded by focusing on the back-end, and ensuring and providing quality basic data with good interfaces to various applications. 

For Europris, it is important to decide based on experience and what they can get from a spreadsheet. The IT director says this is not about being data-driven. Top-line reporting is an easy way to report – as long as the quality underneath is there.

From data warehouse to data democracy with innovative analytics platform

Europris brought Thomas Nakken on board as head of its data warehouse project two years ago. Nakken's initial task was to upgrade the data warehouse and create an integration platform.

Creating an integration platform was a good idea, but upgrading the data warehouse was not enough. We had to be innovative and ambitious, and aim for building an analytics platform," Nakken says.

Europris used to rely on a system that extracted data from Excel. This worked well for a long time, and helped to make data and insights accessible to most people in the company. By using different kinds of data sources than before, Europris now wants to gather as much data as possible in its analysis platform. To improve decision-making, Europris has introduced a solution that lets employees access data that is relevant to them and their role. This way, a more data-driven and open culture is fostered, where insights are available to everyone at all times. This is often called data democratization.

When the IT department visits the business units, the message is that those who need data and insight should have it! And they should not be dependent on the IT department to request a report.

Thomas Nakken, Head of Data Platform and Analysis at Europris

Improving decision support with a new platform

Thomas Nakken is currently working on two major projects. One is about delivering insights in a better way through a new analytics platform, and the other is about creating a new integration platform. The platforms will together meet the needs that involve large amounts of data, and make them accessible to selected people and professional systems. Additionally, work is being done to replace the more traditional methods of generating figures for the final stage. For Europris' IT department, it's about collaborating closely with business and understanding how to operate more effectively and enable more advanced use of analytics data.

Thomas Nakken's vision is to build an analysis platform where humans and machines work together and leverage their respective strengths in a balanced combination. The platform becomes more intelligent as more data is fed into it, Nakken says.

At Europris, we aim to eliminate manual procedures, such as looking at the weather forecast to determine the demand for snow shovels in Alta stores - or barbecue charcoal if the temperature goes up. This should be automated with smart use of insights from sources that we do not own," says Nakken.

Another example that is emphasized is liberating the business from the monthly ritual where someone works from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. to produce reports, and then presenting them in PowerPoint. According to Nakken, such reports should instead be available through pre-made dashboards, which can easily be customized to the company's needs.

Decide - Greater value creation with our own analytics platform

Integration and access to data, for increased value of professional applications

The data in Europris not only creates value for the people who read a report, but also for several of the professional applications used in the business. Considerable efforts have therefore been made to establish modern and efficient integrations between professional applications, so that data is accessible and can flow freely. In many cases, this is referred to as an integration platform. However, Europris has been clear about conceptually separating the analysis platform from the platform that incorporates the various environments," says Thomas Nakken.

Europris places particular emphasis on the order system as one of the most important specialist applications. The system is central to the management of the order process, and provides control over the entire supply of goods. The order system uses data from both the stores and the wholesalers to generate automatic order suggestions for the stores. These suggestions take into account variables such as sales figures, sales forecasts, inventory at wholesalers and own stores, as well as planned promotions. The result is automated order suggestions, tailored to each individual store.

The implementation of the various solutions at Europris involves several key players. Evidi has played a central role in laying the foundation for the automation of processes. The contribution includes the development of integration interfaces between different professional systems, which provide essential data for the order system. If the transmission of this data stops or quality issues are experienced, the store manager is in danger of having to compensate and in practice navigate blindly to prepare their order suggestions – a situation that can quickly become critical.

In the future, Evidi and Europris will contribute to the further development of the business, where the goal is to eliminate unnecessary resource use, get more satisfied employees and, of course, present good reports in user-friendly solutions.

So far, we believe that we have been successful in contributing to security and pride in data that is presented in the organization and used in various professional applications. Now we have to take a step further together with Europris," says Andreas Munch, Senior Architect at Evidi.

According to Ole Petter Harv, it is Evidi's task to deliver expertise, capacity and technology that gives Europris strengthened room for manoeuvre and ability to implement. This will give Europris good conditions to achieve its strategic and operational goals.

Our goal is to be customer-oriented and data-driven in everything we do, because it creates the greatest value for our customers," concludes the CIO.

Technical information about the tools Europris has used to automate its processes

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