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Five Questions Every SAP Customer Should Ask Before Getting Started with SAP xApp Analytics

by Angie Halderman | SAPinsider

July 1, 2006

To align strategic insight with execution – an objective nine out of 10 companies fail to fulfill – companies need the proper technology to roll out their strategic vision on a consistent and widespread basis. Learn how SAP xApp Analytics applications enable you to execute on strategy, and how the journey to implementing SAP xApp Analytics can begin with finding a trusted service partner.
 

Angie Halderman
Senior Director,
SAP Business Development and Strategic Alliances,
SAP Labs, LLC

Converting corporate strategy into action is one of the most daunting challenges for any company, one that, according to the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, nine out of ten companies fail to execute.1

I see two primary reasons for this. One is that most organizations lack the technologies to properly align strategy with execution. That's where SAP xApp Analytics becomes so vital. SAP xApp Analytics delivers data (historical and real-time), insights, and the means to act on these findings in a timely manner, within the context of a business process. For example:

  • The CEO is chartered to increase return on capital by 5% and improve the profitability of the company. To achieve this goal, the CEO can use SAP xApp Analytics to infuse strategy into day-to-day operations throughout the organization. For every role in the company, SAP xApp Analytics delivers the analytic solutions to measure results that roll up into the CEO's mandate. The COO and CFO are focused on driving down days sales outstanding, the finance director is chartered to decrease cash cycle times, and the manufacturing director must decrease inventory turns. This strategic alignment results in compressed decision cycles and improved performance.

  • Within the order-to-cash process, a credit manager makes decisions based on a customer's credit standing. If a customer places a large order that exceeds his credit limit, this manager can pull up the blocked order list analytic application (see Figure 1), review the customer's history and strategic value to the company, make a decision, and instantly take action. What's more, the credit manager's decision immediately propagates into the underlying systems and can be captured and correlated against desired outcomes.
Figure 1
The Blocked Order List Enables Decision Makers to Take Action the Moment a Customer's Credit Information Is Presented

The second reason it is so difficult for companies to execute against their strategic goals is that the goals are known only to a select few. This need not be the case. With SAP's newest generation of analytics for the business user, strategic goals and the ability to act upon them can be consistent and widespread. These state-of-the-art, interactive, graphical interfaces are service-enabled and very easy to develop and customize with SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer technology.

SAP xApp Analytics applications are easily generated, attractively presented, and animated using Adobe Flex. For SAP customers and partners, the product will be generally available in Q3 2006 for download via the SAP Service Marketplace (http://service.sap.com).

Taking Action with Composite Applications

Because new SAP xApp Analytics applications couple insights with the ability to take action, you'll hear them referred to as composite analytic applications. Some general highlights of composite applications include their ability to:

  • Reuse, integrate, and orchestrate functionality from existing application assets in the context of an enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA), with the selective development of new functionality only where needed to fill gaps

  • Provide new functionality beyond mere integration

  • Implement start-to-finish business processes to solve concrete business problems

  • Be configurable without code change

  • Enable a view of critical business performance metrics to allow analysis followed by action — these are "actionable insights," not just read-only views

  • Be delivered from an enterprise view for C-level executives and from a business-process view for the entire organization to leverage

  • Take advantage of existing applications and infrastructure to deliver actionable insights

SAP xApp Analytics is a robust portfolio that includes over 100 function- and industry-specific analytics applications (see Figure 2). Customers can view demos by visiting www.sap.com/community/analytics or contacting an SAP sales representative.

Overview: SAP xApp Analytics
As the new breed of SAP's analytic applications, SAP xApp Analytics:

  • Enables users to make decisions and take action on information from within the analytic application itself.

  • Allows "write backs," meaning they interact with the transactional system and are not read-only.

  • Is in the context of a process. A user can embed analytics as a part of a guided process, bringing in context from a previous process step and sending this context into the next process step.

A Sampling of SAP xApp Analytics
Generic composites (Over 50 and growing) Industry-specific composites (Over 60 and growing)
CRM
Channel Manager, E-Commerce Manager, Manage Sales Pipeline, Marketing Planning, Partner Manager, Service Manager, Win-Loss Analysis
Consumer Products
Brand Analytics, Category Cockpit, Category Price Analysis, Channel Performance, Promotion Effectiveness
Financials
Blocked Order List, Consolidation Analytics, Corporate Governance, Credit Monitor, Early Warning List, Payment Behavior Monitor, Profit Center Analytics
High Tech
NPDI Projects Analytics, SCM Forecast Analytics, Service Performance Analytics, Service Profit Analytics
HCM
Headcount Cockpit, Overtime/Illness Times and Costs, Recruiting Analytics, Strategic Workforce Planning, Travel Management Planning
Oil and Gas
Bulk Shipment, Exchange Partner/Contract Performance Analysis, Project Staffing Detail, Project Summary
PLM
Projects Dashboard, Quality Dashboard, Take from Stock or Buy Dashboard
Public Service
Grantee Management, Tax and Revenue Management
SCM
Delivery Performance, Demand/Supply Match, Global Capacity Utilization, Global Inventory View, Material Availability Analytics, Order Analytics, Responsive Replenishment, Warehouse Stock Analysis
Retail
Category Manager, Replenishment Manager, Store Manager
Figure 2
Some of the More than 100 SAP xApp Analytics Applications Available

Select SAP Partners Are Ready to Help

At SAP, we're keenly aware of the thought leadership and expertise our service partners can bring to customer engagements for SAP xApp Analytics. We began early enablement and awareness activities with our strategic partners in March 2005. Currently, SAP has trained over 150 service partner consultants around the globe and has embarked on a unique model to develop SAP xApp Analytics with our partnership community.2

Together with SAP, our partners provide a comprehensive set of strategy, implementation, and technology solutions. Our knowledgeable partners are essential to helping us address our customers' business pain points, especially in specific industries and business processes, and providing value in these areas:

  • Visioning — Partners can help assess your organization's readiness for implementing analytics and developing a framework for alignment, accountability, and visibility

  • Planning — Many service partners specialize in identifying and assessing gaps, and helping you develop a business case for the project

  • Implementation — Our partners use proven delivery methods for successful go-live and change management

  • Integration — Service partners can help connect your company's business processes with SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence and improve corporate performance through SAP xApp Analytics

  • Upgrades — Partners can help facilitate system upgrades if, for example, you're moving from SAP BW to SAP NetWeaver 2004s, or from SAP R/3 to mySAP ERP

  • Industry-specific expertise — Our partners are closely aligned with the know-how SAP provides across 28 industries, and can offer strategic, industry-specific solutions to customers

How to Find a Suitable Service Partner

The journey to implementing SAP xApp Analytics can begin with finding a service partner, a trusted advisor to your organization's technical and business needs. As you evaluate service partners, know that you do not have to pick just one, since many system integrators harness different areas of expertise. When choosing service partners, you can use the questions below as a guide to help determine which partners will work best with your business and become your trusted advisors:

  1. Does the partner have proven customer references? Make sure the partner has a track record of successful customer implementations. SAP can provide feedback regarding customer successes and partner involvement if needed.

  2. Does the partner's industry expertise complement your line of business? The partner must understand your company's business processes and have proven traction in your industry.

  3. Is the partner strong in business process improvement? Many partners have a practice dedicated to business process improvement (typically in their SAP NetWeaver BI Practice).

  4. Does the partner have trained, SAP-certified consultants and high-quality resources? Review the resumes of the consultants that will be placed on your project. Interview them if needed. SAP can also provide guidance regarding which partners have been properly trained through SAP on SAP xApp Analytics, the SAP Composite Application Framework, and enterprise SOA.

  5. Is the partner's strategy aligned with SAP's long-term vision? Are they developing and certifying innovative solutions on SAP NetWeaver? Are they a member of the Enterprise Services Community, utilizing enterprise services and Best Practices?

Most importantly, you must always analyze your options and engage the SAP field organization when needed.

Conclusion

SAP xApp Analytics provides a tremendous opportunity to accelerate ERP upgrades and deliver additional functionality to existing users while extending the reach beyond the traditional power user or business analyst.

Our partners are essential in embracing SAP xApp Analytics; they can develop and provide customized composite applications that address multiple customers within an industry or solution segment. Together with our partners, we provide what it takes to deliver strategic solutions to the business user community: intuitive, quickly deployable, and easily customizable analytic applications that integrate with your current SAP solution, along with the industry and functional expertise to support the strategic needs of your business users.

For information including online demos, Webcasts, discussion forums, blogs, white papers, and the latest news regarding SAP xApp Analytics, please visit www.sap.com/community/analytics. Interested partners can learn more about SAP's partnership model and Ramp-Up opportunity for SAP Analytics at http://service.sap.com/partnerportal/rampup.


1 Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, Strategy Focused Organization (2001).

2 Interested partners can learn more about this SAP partnership model at http://service.sap.com/partnerportal/rampup.


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