SAP BW/4HANA is heaven sent

(Source - SAP Website)

Customers get what they want with SAP BW/4HANA – next-generation data warehouse. Imagine you are a global bicycle retailer and all your relevant data is stored in cubes in a structure like a Rubik’s Cube. You notice that sales have increased in Modesto, California, but you don’t know why. Could it be the weather, the topography, the income levels? Inserting a new ‘cube’ of demographic information would help you understand the local environment, so you could further increase sales.

“Inserting a new info cube in your current data warehouse would be like inserting a new cube into a Rubik’s Cube. It would be impossible without taking the entire cube apart and actually replacing one of the existing cubes, because the structure is inflexible and does not allow you to make changes easily,” said Bernd Leukert, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Products & Innovation, while addressing the crowd at the SAP BW/4HANA launch yesterday at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco.“But if you were managing your data with SAP’s new data warehouse solution, SAP BW/4HANA, you could add new data sources in minutes, run simulations, analyze the outcomes, and make decisions based on the insight you acquired. For example, you might decide to run a personalized email campaign aimed at those 600,000 people in your database of 1.5 million customers who have similar characteristics to the population in Modesto, California,” he said after demonstrating the new product on stage.

Customer Consensus

Several customers shared their SAP BW4/HANA experience on stage, and all three had a similar story to tell. SAP BW/4HANA is exciting because it addresses their pain points. Customers in the retail and consumer products space bring in a lot of external data from retailers, points of sale, trade promotions, and sentiment intelligence. The power of the retail shelf and dynamic pricing impact the supply chain all the way back to production.  The way they manage all that data is crucial to business, so being able to eliminate large numbers of info cubes is heaven sent. 

“The biggest challenge is understanding which data is actually relevant to the product portfolio,” said Andy Xydakis, VP of IT Strategies at ConAgra Foods. “SAP BW/4HANA allows us to eliminate lots of data models and objects; it’s an opportunity to simplify. Now, it takes less complexity to maintain our services and that automatically reduces costs.”

The Resourcefulness of Digital Immigrants

Greg McStravick, GM and global head of Platform GTM at SAP hosted the customer panel. He calls SAP BW/4HANA customers like Colgate and ConAgra ‘digital immigrants,’ in contrast to digital natives like Uber that start from scratch and are free of burdensome legacies. Unlike digital dinosaurs like Blockbuster that go out of business because they failed to transform, digital immigrants are on a continuous journey of transformation. They are future focused, flexible and embrace change.

Media is an industry particularly hard hit by digitization. Companies like Australia’s FairfaxMedia face declining print readership, more competitors, and pressure to deliver at low cost.

“We have had to extensively broaden our portfolio. We have new business units like real estate sales and events. This means a huge surge of new data requiring new business insights. We are using SAP BW/4HANA to analyze the profitability of the events we support.  That enables us to quickly decide which event to continue to support and which ones to eliminate from our portfolio,” said Diego Lombardini, head of Finance Systems at Fairfax Media.

AWS and SAP: A Long-Lasting Partnership

SAP BW/4HANA will soon be available as  either an IaaS – Amazon Web Services (AWS) – or a managed cloud service – SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud — so companies can conveniently modernize their data warehousing  and accelerate their digital journey into the cloud.

The SAP and AWS alliance itself is an important milestone. Terry Wise, VP of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem at AWS, said the partnership with SAP is extremely exciting for Amazon Web Services: “We are experiencing the most dynamic business climate ever. Digital transformation is forcing enterprises to think differently about building and deploying software, and especially about using data. The biggest trend now is the acceleration of the move to the cloud. We are very proud of our innovation journey with SAP.”

Neil How
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Neil How

Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 21 years working both client side and for various consultancies running numerous SAP programmes. After successfully completing over 15 full lifecycles he took a senior leadership/board position and his work moved onto creating the same success for others.

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