Struggling to make data actionable?

“Sounding familiar?”

When our CTO, Andy Steer and I put our Modern Data Platform offering together the conversation would always come back to the reasons why a business would need some form of data platform i.e. ultimately it needs information to support decision making. The systems delivering such information over the years have been given a variety of names such as “management information systems”, “decision support systems” and “data warehouses”. Ultimately, these systems needed to deliver a broad range of capabilities to managers and initiatives were hindered by technology products of the time. Why were they struggling?

SAP BW was introduced to SAP customers as the data warehouse of choice enabling business users to gain the operational insight they required from the SAP ERP investments. Different from other market solutions which took an Inmon / Kimball approach to SQL-based data warehousing, SAP chose an object-oriented route with SAP BW.

However, over time the SAP technology portfolio has been a complex subject to navigate. From the initial inception of SAP BW back in 1998, organisations have been faced with a “Marmite” moment – you either love it or hate it. For many organisations, the ability to enable business content in a reduced timeframe provided the necessary operational reporting they were seeking but failed to provide true insight. For others such as small to medium sized enterprises, the IT complexity of delivery would always be one-step too far and other methods were sought to provide insight.

Evolution of BW versions and investment in functionality

Large enterprises did not escape issues either. Their business requirements introduced additional complexities associated with Integrated Planning, EPM and POSDM along with a variety of technical solutions for dealing with very large data sets found within certain industries such as Retail and Financial Services.

Ultimately, what this has produced is a segmented landscape of customers who are:

  • Running a SAP ECC and struggling to get insight beyond basic operational reports;
  • Running a SAP ECC, extracting data and analysing it in silos;
  • Running SAP BW and struggling with technical complexity; and
  • Running a fully functional and efficient SAP BW system

SAP ECC Customers without SAP BW

For the variety of customers who did not deploy SAP BW, a great many are delivering insight through a “cottage industry” of technologies, which ultimately have:

  • Business users developing pseudo IT solutions which distracts them from their job;
  • Developed key-man dependencies around these cottage industries; and
  • Increased Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) through complexity and silo solutions

Ultimately, whatever barriers an organisation had for adopting SAP BW just shifted the problems to a different part of the business and away from IT.

Through discussions with many SAP customers, I have found continued frustration through inability to get true insight in to their business operations. Business users are wasting time extracting data from SAP ECC tables, creating Infosets, ABAP and ALV screens ultimately delivering BW equivalent functionality in Excel, external Data Warehouses and Tableau/Qlik rather than delivering insight from a trusted model of data.

SAP BW Customers

For many SAP BW customers the journey is one towards simplification; simplification of the overall technical complexity of the existing landscape. This simplification introduces agility to react to new business demands and create responses to new ways of working. To support customers with this journey, itelligence has developed proven methodologies for upgrading SAP BW customers and simplifying their overall SAP BW landscape.

To understand more about the itelligence approach to migrating SAP BW and the simplification journey see the companion blog once you have finished this one – SAP BW/4 HANA Upgrade Best Practices.

A Modern Data Platform

Set within the general backdrop needing to get operational reporting and traditional data warehousing correct, businesses are now faced with emerging trends that challenge their business models and more importantly the cottage industries they have developed. The Gartner Nexus of forces highlights these four key challenges with analytics being one of these. Enabling a trusted data platform is only part of the picture and organisations need to provide appropriate responses to analysing the data so businesses can innovate and response to the demands faced.

davidOrganisations are faced with wide-ranging forms of data, which can form the basis of further insight. These new data sources are driving the need for improvements in analytical capabilities beyond standard business intelligence and reporting and into the world of real-time analytics, geospatial analytics, predictive analytics, network analytics and sentiment analytics to name a few.

Through product development innovation, SAP has created a next generation response to data warehousing with SAP BW/4 HANA. SAP BW/4 HANA still provides rich business content now optimised for SAP HANA but also provides additional capabilities enabling businesses to respond with agility to the demands they face. In essence, SAP BW/4 HANA is a modern data platform catering for the additional demands that pure play data warehousing could never address.

The rest of this blog series will explore the nature of SAP BW/4 HANA and the benefits it brings to business users, functional managers and executives. The series will also explore the capabilities we seek to develop new responses in such a technology platform to respond to customer and competitive pressures within your markets. We will explore the capabilities found within SAP BW/4 HANA and how these capabilities can provide insight to support decisions in response to operational, tactical and strategic challenges faced by businesses in today’s digital world.

how your organisation could deliver improved insight, then please get in touch. My contact details are below.

In addition, feel free to join my colleagues and me at the itelligence conference on May 25th in London where I will be discussing the Modern Data Platform. The itelligence Annual Conference, (#itelli2017), will promote 36 sessions comprising 18 presentations, 18 interactive areas, an extended Hands-On Zone showcasing the very latest SAP solutions, plus the SAP Digital Boardroom.

Please Register here.

I look forward to welcoming you.

Posted by: David Milburn, Business Development Manager, BIG DATA & Analytics itelligence UK


Speak to David

Mobile: +44 (0)7833 236895

Email: [email protected]






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