Sky City on data roll with data warehouse

A new data warehouse at Sky City is slashing the time needed to compile business reports from days to hours.

A new data warehouse at Sky City is slashing the time needed to compile business reports from days to hours.

The rollout, in the food and beverage side of the business, is the first phase in providing data warehousing and analysis capabilities to the entire casino and hotel operation across New Zealand and Australia. Sky City Group, which operates a casino and hotel in Auckland, also has properties in Adelaide and Queenstown.

CIO Damian Swaffield says for the non-gaming part of the business, management “flash reports” now take four hours to produce rather than the two days it used to take before the data warehouse. Revenue management systems have direct feeds into the warehouse, cutting down the number of staff needed to handle information.

Swaffield says the organisation’s IT consisted of many stand-alone systems. This meant it was difficult to retrieve historical data or get timely and useful information that spanned the operation . It was decided a data warehouse was needed, but the industries in which Sky City operates — casinos, hotels and carparking — don’t have any off-the-shelf ERP systems. After exploring the market, Sky City invited Auckland-based data warehouse specialist WhereScape to tender, based on work it had done for Air New Zealand, Fonterra and Tip Top Ice Cream. Swaffield says WhereScape uses whatever technology is appropriate to the businesses needs.

WhereScape audited each Sky City business to define and design a view of what data and information was needed for decision-making. With the actual building of the warehouse, an issue arose over whether to use Oracle or Microsoft as the database server. Eventually Microsoft SQL 2000 was chosen. The business analysis tool was Brio’s BrioQuery. Sky City reviewed the investment and total cost of ownership of each of the available options and the data volumes involved, and opted for SQL Server, says Swaffield. “Although our business is complex our transaction volumes are actually quite small and SQL suited us for now.

“Two years down the road we could unbolt the warehouse and use something else as the database.”

The rollout to the gaming side of the business — which accounts for up to 80% of revenue — is taking place now. It will be followed by hotels and carparking. Swaffield says the project has been a considerable investment in terms of development and technology and carries a six-figure price tag.

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