European airline Flybe is unconvinced by the benefits of SAP's in-memory analytics tool, HANA, and has instead deployed the QlikView Business Discovery platform for its revenue management and business analytics.
Quinton Davies, business intelligence manager at Flybe, told Computerworld UK that SAP's in-memory tool was too expensive and couldn't perform to the standard that the airline needed in a very short timeframe.
Flybe began looking for a new analytics tool two years ago, around the time SAP was launching HANA and was recruiting firms to evangelise the benefits. Flybe was using SAP's Business Objects at the time for its analytics, but found that it wasn't providing the level of detail required, at the speed the airline needed.
"Business Object is very good for analysts to do their customised reporting, but you also need that level of skill there. It's also very good at distributing canned reports. However, there was a lot of effort on our part to provide the teams with real-time analytics, to help them understand what was happening in real-time," said Davies.
"We spent a lot of time creating aggregated datasets, having to get very clever with our Oracle databases. And of course once we created these views, the analysts wanted more."
He added: "To do that would have required a lot of effort so we started to look at the market. We were approached by both SAP and Aviation Analytics, the consultants that eventually sold us the QlikView platform."
Davies explained that he gave both SAP and Aviation Analytics two weeks to show what could be done with HANA and QlikView and at what cost - QlikView won out.
"We have a very good relationship with SAP and at the time they told me HANA was the answer. However, in the end they had to bow down to QlikView and admit that they could not compete on that level at that time," he said.
"However, Aviation Analytics were able to quickly put the stuff together and it is exactly what we were after. We tried to throw as many issues as possible at them, and they used the tool to show us it wasn't a problem."
He added: "HANA also has a massive initial investment, it was in the order of five times the cost of QlikView. QlikView was also a tenth of the cost of developing our own tools in-house."
Flybe spent two weeks implementing a working version of the QlikView platform before it got in Aviation Analytics to give the team three days training on how it could effectively use the tool. It then spent the next six weeks delivering the full production version that is still in use today.
"Our biggest challenge was convincing the business, we had a lot of work to do there. But we were doing a proof of concept and selling QlikView on that to get buy in. It worked - in six weeks we delivered a solution. Over the next six months we enhanced it and whenever they asked for customised views we were able to create it that week. The business saw the rapid development process," explained Davies.
Flybe has found that since implementing the QlikView platform, it has been able to reduce its fuel costs and better manage the way pilots fly the planes. Fuel is a huge cost for airlines and small changes in price can have a big impact on profits.
"Flight efficiency was a very good example. We wanted to look at fuel costs and the way that we were flying our planes. Basically we had a lot of canned reports that would go out to the business and they would have to sift through all that information and try and figure it out themselves," said Davies.
"In two weeks we were able to create a dashboard that complemented these canned reports. It's now a very mature application that we are using in many different ways to try and influence pilot behaviour, view where our fuel costs are."