I attended some of the Business Analytics track sessions at SAPPHIRE NOW online, available for free at sapphirenow.com (registration required). Here’s some summaries and highlights of the sessions I attended. Note, these notes are necessarily incomplete, and don’t necessarily summarize the presenters thoughts correctly – if something looks interesting, please check out the original presentation — I’ll add the links as the become available!.
Dell Global Enterprise Business Intelligence
“DELL Enterprise Business Intelligence 2.0 is a transformational initiative that provides the global BI reporting framework at DELL to improve business value by lowering the total cost of ownership. Learn about DELL’s journey and how SAP BusinessObjects became the foundation to enable sales operational reporting to achieve Dell’s operating mission”
Mike Lampa of Dell presented the session.
The company worked on optimizing its Enterprise Business Intelligence architecture:
But then realized that they had to balance the needs of operational users. They had acquired several companies, and users needed to do deep analysis in individual applications. When they tried to use the shared server farm, the lights started to dim – not optimized for high-volume operational analytics. So they also provided some optimized operational reporting for specific needs:
Going forward, the focus is about business process engineering, and using statistical/predictive modeling to determine what external influences affect Dell’s efficiency, and then deliver that back to the end-user, and build collaboration between the analytics and operational groups, to make information more actionable:
Integrating SAP BusinessObjects Solutions into Your SAP Software Landscape
Learn how Monsanto took BI to a new strategic level by bringing SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions into its existing SAP software landscape. See the strategic vision and understand the road map for bringing self-service BI solutions from SAP into your organization. Learn key best practices for your own successful BI implementation.
Doris Dixon, Enterprise Service Business Reporting Lead, Monsanto Co. and Thierry Audas, Senior Product Specialist for SAP
We Invested a lot of money in Business Intelligence and BW, but we didn’t leverage it as well as we should have done. We had folks all over the globe creating their own data warehouses, and looking at new tools. Because we didn’t have a central strategy, each region had their own strategy. BW wasn’t as user-friendly as we wanted to be, sadly. We needed a way to centralize and rationalized. We started with some research into best practice. We decided we needed more simplicity and a centralized, scaleable, fault-tolerant, single tool set with a broad spectrum of functionality.
In particular, we needed something that would connect to BW, but also provide autonomy, since the different teams needed to be able to access their own data.
We went for a three phase strategy to get to where we wanted to be. We knew we wanted to get to “competitive advantage”, but the infrastructure wasn’t there.
My key advice is this: you need to know where you’re going – but don’t do a big bang. Things change so much, need to be able to change along the way. BW accelerator was the one thing that turned our audience – doubled our users, queries, everything. If you can get your report in seconds rather than hours, it makes a big difference.
We cleaned up the environment, and eliminated something like a thousand reports — and not one person asked about it. Instead, we gave people access to the data so that they could create their own reports – but we do provide certified reports, about things that are important to the business. And we weren’t planning on this, but we ended up reduced the amount we spent on BI, by simplifying and getting rid of five or six other tools, and saving the maintenance costs.
In the future, there are some things we need to do, for example we need to continue with data acceleration in order to stay ahead of demand. We’re also going to implement SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. We hadn’t planned on doing it quite this early, but because of the explosion of self service, we have to do it before the second phase.
In general, BI is about agility. But too much agility leads to problems to do with accuracy and stability. But we needed to move away from a too-rigorous BW installation and introduce more agility, self-service.
HANA is a real part of where we want to go in the future
You can’t really “do data quality” – it’s too big a problem. We’re focusing on the first-tier, essential data, and the quality of that, and then figuring out the second-tier – customer retention and planning. Historically, people have been using spreadsheet. They know what “the answer should be” based on their experience, but these are fast-moving markets, and the answers are really no longer that obvious.
Looking forward, we see real value in simulations and predictive analytics, and because of the explosion of data, and the explosion of the need, we need to think about how we’re going to handle technologies like in-memory in our landscape.
Innovations in Business Intelligence
This session will explore the potential of SAP In-Memory Appliance software (SAP HANA), combined with the next generation of SAP BusinessObjects analytic applications, Aurora, and mobile capabilities through Sybase, to improve self-service for the end user and deliver increased productivity and efficiency within the data warehousing industry.
Hettie Tabor, Global Lead, SAP Business User, Accenture
I’ve been working with SAP and business intelligence for the last 25 years or so, and it’s an industry I’m passionate about. There’s been a lot of consolidation in the last few years, a rapidly changing landscape. Here’s what we’re hearing from our customers.
And here are the key trends we see: in-memory, mobile, pivot-like access, predictive
Mobility is provided through Sybase, and the BusinessObjects mobile Web Intelligence later this year, and predictive modeling through the Predictive Workbench product.
I mentioned that in-memory is really revolutionary. It started with products like BW accelerator – we have customers where introducing it lead to 100x-plus performance, although it wasn’t always cheap. In the future, the industry is moving to full in-memory data warehouses. This is happening a lot faster than most people think. There’s SAP HANA, but we’ll also see offers this year from Microsoft, IBM, etc. We’re all used to the old methods, and we will need new data modeling skills, such as columnar data models, the need to keep the data flowing, etc.
Hettie gave a great overview of where SAP has been, and where it is going in terms of infrastructure and tools – and ended with a nice “hi to the web audience”
SAP Runs SAP: Enterprise Mobility
SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann discusses how SAP has mobilized its business. Learn how SAP formulated its internal mobility strategy, how we executed this strategy, what challenges we faced, and what benefits we’ve delivered to our lines of business.
Between sessions, I switched over to catch Oliver Bussman (@sapcio on twitter) discussing how SAP provides mobile data to SAP employees, with a demonstration of the new SAP Exploration Views prototype running on an iPad 2.
Transform Forecasting and Budgeting with SAP BusinessObjects EPM Solutions
Enduring economic uncertainty has made agile planning and forecasting a top priority. Hear about the Coca-Cola Company’s vision for transforming budgeting, and learn how the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application, part of SAP BusinessObjects enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions, helps improve organizational agility.
David Williams of SAP kicked off the session.
He talked about agile planning with SAP BusinessObjects EPM solutions. What are the goals and challenges?
What do people find hard today? An Aberdeen study
What does “dynamically account for change?” mean – it means the ability to do rapid reforecasts, being able to do variance reports, doing scenario planning. And it means managers being accountable for their plans.
A best practices report by Aberdeen came up with several common characteristics for best-in-class performance:
This week sees the launch of the new version of SAP BusinessObjects EPM 10
David then game some customer examples and invited Jerome Amand, Finance Transformation Manager for The Coca-Cola Co. up on stage.
He talked about his journey, working for finance for the last two years, supported by Deloitte and SAP. The company is undergoing a financial transformation with three core global initiatives.
in this session, I’m going to focus on the second one: integrated performance management.
EPM has big enabler, but the real effort has been in the process redesign, to a more efficient and effective process. We’ve spent a lot of time on change management.
We’re focused on three things – integrated framework, integrated financial statements, and integrated processes. We spent a lot of time looking holistically at what was planning and forecasting actually delivering and trying to achieve: “How are we going to measure success, how are we going to set targets”, etc. Once we’d decided that, we were more easily able to set in place planning. This was the most critical aspect of the project. One thing that isn’t on the slides, was that we wanted to use a full driver-based model, and did a lot of regression analysis, setting up of assumptions, etc.
Here’s the high-level timeline:
One key message: the tool was not the important thing. It took 18 months of work to start even thinking about choosing a tool, and this helped us be successful. We decided to use BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, and set up a proof of concept. Building the solution only took from April to July – five months, pretty impressive. Of course, we had quite a lot of things already firmed up from a design and methodology point of view. We then invested a lot of time in testing – nine months, almost twice as look as the initial development. We brought people into our offices from around the world.
Lessons learned. in previous projects, we have sometimes focused too much on technology. This time, it was about change management.
This is an example of the transparency we brought into the process testing.
Leveraging Sybase Solutions for Better Business Performance
The acquisition of Sybase opens up a host of new solutions that can add substantial value in managing your IT landscapes and meeting business challenges faced by your organization in today’s competitive and volatile market. This session will introduce you to the Sybase analytics product line and outline the key value of each new solution.
Dan Lahl, Director of Marketing, SAP
Dan’s slides pretty much spoke for themselves, but spiced up with extra anecdotes about how organizations around the world use Sybase IQ for business value.
The World that Lenovo Built with In-Memory Analytics
In-memory analytics at Lenovo is revolutionizing the way the company does business. Running purely on CRM data, in-memory analytics is enabling Lenovo to adjust its business tactics immediately, especially in the high-volume markets in which Lenovo competes. And all of this on its very own Lenovo hardware device. This story shows you how.
Moderator: Lenovo is an early adopter of HANA – why?
Lenovo: The challenge: we’re in a real-time business, but we didn’t have the real-time data to support it. Today we have to move the data to another system in order to analyze it. Today, it takes a couple of hours to get data to the decision makers. With HANA, the data will be replicated instantly and available to the decision maker in seconds, even though it’s huge amounts of data.
How did you know HANA specifically was the right solution for you?
Lenovo: We’ve been looking for the right solution for a while, . We think in-memory is the right solution for us. HANA is the only solution we’ve found in the market.
SAP: SAP and Lenovo works hand in hand, sitting side by side, working on the project. Helps co-innovation. At the Lenovo booth, you can see a demo of the solution in action.
Using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, on data that has been instantly replicated to HANA.
Then the same data available on a mobile device (Android)
Moderator: “with HANA, you need real-time employees!”
How do you convince people to invest in the machines necessary to run HANA?
SAP: It simplifies the IT landscape, big return on investment compared to other solutions.
Where are you going in the future?
Lenovo: We’re looking at lots of different areas – anywhere where we can get an advantage through real-time information.
SAP: Very surprised about the performance of HANA – 400x faster for some of the queries.
Customer View: Solving Critical Business Needs with Analytic Applications
Hear visionary customers discuss the emerging role of industry and line-of-business analytic applications within their enterprise business analytics strategy. They will share their real-world perspectives and experiences on selection criteria, architectural considerations, acceleration of time to value for business users, and bottom-line benefits.
Jim Newkirk of Colgate, Don Head of Maple Leaf Foods, Greg Gough of Dean Foods
Jeff Veis of SAP
Spend performance management (SPM). Savings opportunities. Had built a systems using BI technology that we needed to replace, and it wasn’t very intuitive. We wanted to empower users to create their own reports, and reduce the dependency on IT – cumbersome, takes a long time to create reports that might not be what the user expects. We have over 200 procurement users live. Have lots of internal and external data.
Almost complete with our rollout globally.
Maple leaf foods. Based in Toronto. 24,000 employees.
Our cost structure was terrible. We wanted to eliminate the different ERP systems we had grown over the years
We have a very aggressive program in place – we don’t allow any customization. This has allowed more than 24 go lives in less than two years. We’re going to go for a single version of SAP for the company.
Very vanilla and inflexible. Now, going to take a pause and see how we can use tools – we’re in ramp up with BI 4.0 – to take our data to the next level.
Two very different businesses. Path towards being data driven. Going to be a multi-year process. Started with a roadmap. Get agreement on KPIs, sequence to roll them out, and a technical platform. Did that in 2009. In 2010, we rolled out supply chain KPIs. Linked those metrics to the management operating structure. Did a lot of root cause analysis. Holy grail: what’s our conversion cost per gallon. Have been able to keep this flat to slightly down despite rising costs. We did this in a custom, brick-and-morter. We’re going to move to something that looks a bit more like prefab in the future.
After this, want to move to more of a packaged application. In discussions around the net profit analytics module from SAP BusinessObjects.
Donald: For us, we see a huge fit for the way we’re deploying SAP. Our success to date has been about targeting a 70% good enough level, and then we’ll optimize. So the analytic apps fit well – gets us going fast, and then we can optimize after. I’d rather take some off the shelf and do it fast, and then spend time getting more out of it. It’s bang on, it’s all about speed from our perspective.
Steve: I’d echo Donald. We’ve have 12 years of developing analytic reports with these types of applications, we can plug it in, as we’ve been used to with SAP, without having to start with a blank sheet of paper. My expectation is that we’ll be able to cover 80% or 90% of the need, and get a running start.
Don: It’s about acceleration, and also standardization. We’ve grown through M&A. If we have a standard way, that will help us.
Jeff: Challenges, as you evolve from custom build to hybrid?
Jim: the data is the data. The data has to be right. That challenge remains the same. Change management is very different, compared to developing something with/for the users.
Don: I ask one of the functional heads: “Explain to me why you’re different from the rest of the industry!” It’s about the governance.
Greg: Our concern is about conformity. Can we get our data to fit the predefined model.
Greg: so many of our custom-built applications are built around exceptions. I hope that this will set up the rule, and streamline the whole development process.
Don: to deploy a purpose-built application, I’ll be looking to use a much more agile type methodology compared to, say, waterfall.
Jim: when you start with a blank sheet of paper, it can quickly spiral out to a much larger scope. You inevitably get into “I know I told you what I wanted, but…” – this way, you set the scope from the beginning, and you’re just managing the exceptions.
Jeff Veis. Where do you think you’ll spend more and less time compared to before? How will the partnership with the business be different?
Jim: real-life example, with spend performance management. We were able to spend more time on the process, on the analytics they needed. At the end of the day, the end users can take control of their own analytics. Saves time for everybody.
Don: end up spending more time training and customer-facing. Education, training and consulting vs implementing.
Greg: it changes the dialog. “how do I operationalize this, and how quickly?”
Jim: When we implemented SPM, it forced them to think of other ways they could look at the data, to get more insight into things that they weren’t necessarily already thinking about. My expectation is that we’re going to take analytics to the next level, run the business better, and make us more efficient.
Don: This will never end. It’s a journey. Right now, looking at trade promotion effectiveness. Get it in, get them comfortable with it, then generate more need, more dialog, what-if scenarios, and get more out of it. Hana and mobility come in to our roadmap. Give you the analytics you need today, but plant a seed for the future.
Greg: In moving from pure reporting to analyzing and what-if. If I look at a product that is not making money – would could I do? If I delivered less often? Start predicting what would happen – that’s what gets me excited.
SAP In-Memory Computing: Helping Customers Overcome Big Data Problems
SAP customers discuss experiences leveraging SAP In-Memory Computing technology to solve challenges stemming from managing large volumes of data. Three customers discuss why they choose SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator software; SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software, accelerated version; and SAP In-Memory Appliance software (SAP HANA).
Daniel Kearnan, Director Marketing, SAP
Jeff Duly, Senior Enterprise Architect, Dow Corning Corp.
Kurt Hughes, General Mills
Ruben Panizza, Global IT Director, Colgate-Palmolive
Dan Kearnan moderates a panel, looking at customers of three different generations of in-memory technology: BW Accelerator, BusinessObjects Explorer Accelerated, and SAP HANA.
Jeff: Dow Corning was one of the first BW customers. We’ve had it for quite a while. Took a look at the usage. 25% of the company using it on a regular basis. But on a daily basis, down to 5% of the organization. But decisions are made every day, so why is that? Employees are different. I didn’t like the BEx analyzer, didn’t like having to use Excel. As we looked at Explorer, we believed that it would . Our BI engine was running fine, but our car didn’t have any kerb appeal. It’s a bit like having a sports car – it can’t go everywhere, and sometimes I going to go off to places that look a bit muddy – at that point you can get out of Explorer and get into another tool. But if you’re not exploring, you’re never going to get that far.
Our queries went from 43 seconds down to less than 3 seconds. Some people who had been coming in at 5am to run their reports, now just come in at their regular time. We plan to roll out #SAP Explorer to everybody… since every user is a casual user of somebody’s data
Ruben: We have some pain points in our ERP reporting, and this is where we see the opportunity for the first version of HANA
Dan Kearnan: Best practices, advice to somebody moving to BW accelerator?
Kurt – I think we took us too long to get there. Hard dollar cost, soft dollar savings, but once we got it, there was a real impact. Wish we had accelerated it somehow. Definitely worth the investment, we feel.
Jeff – first, talk a hardware partner to come in a do a test on your data. Took a day to set up and a day to put data in. Kept it for three weeks, were able to look at our own data. Second, we don’t see the point of using BW accelerator without using Explorer – we’re going to make everything available.