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Customer Snapshot: Overview

70% of visitors say they've experienced the ''WOW!'' factor at the NEC

Planning on going to the world’s largest dog show or that sold-out concert next weekend? No need to allow for much extra time for lines or parking if you’re in Europe and going to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, UK. Up to 60,000 visitors per day attend over 500 events per year at the NEC, and they expect the number of events to double soon.

Yet, no big lines or traffic jams? That’s the Run Simple secret behind the venue operations center strategy.

The NEC Group

€186 million

Number of Employees

Line of Business
Asset Management, Platform and Technology

SAP Solutions
SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence (BI) solutions


Customer Website

Implementation Partners
CSI Ltd.

Sports & Entertainment

Customer Snapshot: History

Bringing “Live” to Life for More than 35 Years

Customer Snapshot: Business Model

Welcome to the Show Our Friends, Come Inside, Come Inside

From rock concerts, circuses and car shows, to conventions, spring festivals and dog shows, it’s all happening at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham—all day, every day. Owned by The NEC Group, the largest exhibition center in the UK and the busiest in Europe, the NEC spans 611 acres of grounds with 20 interconnected halls and has parking for over 16,500 cars. Centrally-located and well-connected to rail and air, up to 60,000 visitors a day flock to the popular events that make history at the NEC.


The Venue Operations Center (VOC) is the control hub of the NEC grounds, where the VOC team works tirelessly keeping car traffic moving and parking smoothly, lines moving quickly, security and medical services provided expertly, and key behind-the-scenes necessities.

Customer Snapshot: Success Strategy


The Car-park-people-movement Dashboard

Much of the NEC’s success is based on repeat business for annual events, which means each year visitors have set expectations (for better or worse) about their experiences that will determine if they choose to return. So the NEC focuses heavily on providing a really positive experience for everyone.

The NEC won’t stop with the quality of the events and facilities, or even with the food and the customer service for attendees. From arriving to the venue smoothly, finding parking easily, and standing in shorter lines, the NEC aims to make people go “Wow!” at how hassle-free and enjoyable the event experience is.

The Challenge

Needing Three Birds’ Eye Views at the Same Time

Heavy foot and vehicle traffic must be managed well in order to operate, as bottleneck, gridlock, full parking lots, and long lines can hamper each event’s success, and hamper people’s good times. The VOC staff is behind the scenes quietly and strategically monitoring every incoming road, entrance, exit, parking lot and foot traffic.

Traditionally, the VOC relied on 3 separate systems to view all of this activity, and they had to manually run reports and consolidate the views to get the critical bird’s eye view they need to run the NEC smoothly. The NEC needed a better way to monitor the traffic of people and vehicles at the same time, to get a full view of the entire compound and it’s activities in real-time, allowing on-the-fly decisions to avert potential situations.

Enter SAP

Sometimes, the Answer is a Gift

The NEC clearly defined their requirements for the dashboard, and evaluated all of its incumbent systems against them. None of these systems completely fit the bill, although the existing version of SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions came close at 80%, which didn’t meet their 100% requirement.

From CSI, the NEC learned they could meet the requirements by deploying the latest version of the SAP BI software.

Enter SAP: The SAP Experience


Chosen Partner for SAP BI Developments

Using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards software, CSI designed the dashboard and seamlessly conducted implementation, training, and rollout. The dashboard is now in production with CSI providing ongoing support.

From the engagement of CSI on the requirements, we probably nailed the solution in 4-6 weeks. –Murray Dickson, Head of Business Relationships – Group IT, The NEC Group

Better Business


Just have a look at the dashboard. It’s great.

Better Business: Benefits

Blowing Customer’s Minds with Thoughtfulness

A great example to give is the true story about a popular rock concert that was sold out at the NEC’s arena. VOC staff could tell from the dashboard that a huge amount of people had not arrived and the show was close to starting. With a little inquiry they found out that people were stuck in a huge traffic jam due to an accident, so were helplessly delayed.


With ease, the NEC was able to start the show later, smoothly manage the flow when those people arrived in cars by having parking lots with vacant spaces clearly accessible, and the right amount of desks open to serve them on the way in. This allowed many more people to enjoy the popular singer, and it helped the concert’s overall success as well.

More benefits that make the staff say “Wow!”.

The bottom line beneath the happy ticketholders is that it’s evidence that the NEC’s most critically underlying goal is being met – to provide superior services to event hosts that book the NEC for their events. And this obviously, keeps the event hosts rebooking with the NEC.
Another benefit in addition to the dashboard is the reporting provided via SAP Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence. Especially for cyclic events, the NEC staff can now run reports on historical data and take precautions to avoid problems that may have occurred previously.

Better Business: Run Simple


Making Real-Time Decisions on the Fly

The ability to plan and adjust course with real time knowledge has made life so much simpler for the high-pressure needs of the VOC.

Journey Ahead

The Next Big Journey

The NEC plans to continue dashboard innovations that help them Run Simple with SAP and CSI mastering the solutions. The NEC is also looking to increase its analysis of who its visitors are, when they come to the site, how far they drive to get there, and much more; and they want to share this information with show organizers and exhibitors.


Additional plans include using SAP Lumira® software for data discovery and agile visualization as well as technology from the SAP HANA® platform for managing Big Data and establishing real-time access to critical data.

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