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Business Intelligence to Inspire Us All

As I look back on 2018 and all the amazing BI solutions I saw created, there was one that really stood out in terms of its impact on the world that left me both awestruck and humbled.

It was a solution created for the International Humanitarian City (IHC) based in Dubai, UAE that provides international relief for human disasters around the world. I had the privilege to tour their facilities last November and it is a vast expanse of warehouses in the desert filled with emergency supplies from tents to medical kits to cooking equipment.

These supplies belong to different humanitarian agencies like UNHCR, UNICEF, World Food Program, Red Cross and Red Crescent and many others. In order to keep track of all these items, it is a logistical challenge, especially as they are both received from countries all over the world and then shipped in a hurry to disaster sites that could also be anywhere on the planet. This was a key factor in the IHC appointing Giuseppe Saba as their CEO since humanitarian logistics is his specialty.

The main problem that Giuseppe and his team had to solve was how to effectively keep track of all these supplies coming in and going out while also having instant and effective visibility to them, so they could dispatch the right items to each situation at the right time.

Since the supplies were coming from all different organizations each using their own logistics systems and classifications, any effort to merge these into a single logistics system for IHC would be a huge multi-year project. However, they came up with a simple, yet ingenious, solution.

Every item coming in to the UAE, like any country, must pass through customs, so they tapped into the UAE customs system to collect all data they needed on each of the items. They fed this data into what they called the IHC Logistics Databank.

Secondly, with the help of a local Business Intelligence company, Intellytics, they built a visual dashboard to track and monitor the inventory, movement, and costs of all the supplies.

The idea for this BI dashboard came about after HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, chairperson for the IHC, saw the BI dashboard created for the UAE Ministry of Health to track key metrics across all the State-run hospitals in the country and decided it would be beneficial to have something similar for the IHC.

Both the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the IHC dashboards were developed in SAP BusinessObjects dashboards and both of them used the InfoBurst Dash XML Data Cache (XDC). The use of the XDC is significant since this in-memory data cache provides performance and scalability with large volumes of data and users. Not only can the XDC be used for SAP BO Dashboards, but it can also be used with Tableau, PowerBI and Custom dashboard applications. Its use with custom dashboard applications is becoming very popular for organizations looking to deploy responsive design dashboards for mobile and desktop as well as supporting write back capability, which XDC does.

Also, both the IHC and MOH dashboards won awards at the InfoSol Dashboards Awards at IBIS last year for their business use case and design.

The success of the IHC logistics Databank and dashboard has inspired the organization to share its success and technology with other humanitarian logistics centers around the world. CNN put a wonderful news story together on the solution, which Giuseppe Saba showed at IBIS when he presented his keynote last year and it inspires me every time I watch it. Check it out for yourselves and I hope it inspires you too.

Be prepared to see more inspirational BI solutions like this at IBIS 2019 and maybe consider submitting your own for the InfoSol 2019 Dashboard Awards.

About Paul

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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