SVP & GM of SAP Analytics
The Future of BI, Analytics, and Performance Management Is Here
For 20 years transactional vendors such as SAP have focused on making organizations more efficient with innovations like ERP, SCM, SRM, CRM, and PLM that automate the lives of numerous workers. Increasingly, however, the focus for the agile enterprise is making the information worker more effective. It’s no secret that we’re experiencing an explosion of data — IBM research estimates that information doubles every 11 months in 2007, but will double every 11 hours in 2010.
You can’t make sense of that much data, much less convert it to information and knowledge, without a robust analytic infrastructure. This infrastructure at SAP is called the business intelligence (BI) platform, a key part of the SAP NetWeaver platform that, while deploying more than 14,000 installations, has evolved into one of the industry’s most mature analytic infrastructures. Recently, innovations like SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator (BIA), a pioneering in-memory appliance, have brought a quantum leap in performance to the data-consuming information worker. BIA returns queries at “Google-like” response times. Disruptive innovations like these will fundamentally change the price/performance curve, reducing the need for exorbitant database licenses.
Solutions built on the BI platform and tools are called “analytic applications.” They cover a wide range of functional areas and vertical domains. For example, HR analytics might help the HR director analyze compensation patterns versus industry standards. “Spend analytics” might help the VP of procurement reduce “maverick spend” and facilitate supplier rationalization. If BI is the platform and analytic applications are the solutions, “performance management” is the umbrella benefit these solutions provide. In essence, analytic applications built on a BI platform help you measure and manage your performance.
Performance Management Can’t Be Just “Bolted On”
Early on, performance management belonged to IT and business analysts. You had to be trained on query and analysis tools. Typically, they were created as “bolt-ons” to a business process. But the future of performance management is one where analytic solutions are embedded in business processes. You don’t have to leave the business process you’re running (HR, CRM, SCM) to launch a BI tool to find the answers you need. You expect the analytics to be there. Consider that analytics are increasingly built into GPS systems so automobile drivers can find the fastest route between points A and B, even with traffic or weather hazards. Another example: Amazon.com uses sophisticated analytics to suggest the books a buyer might be interested in reading by correlating like purchases from other buyers; the buyer hardly notices the power of analytics made simple in the purchase experience.
By extension people expect, when working with business information, analytics will seamlessly guide them through their jobs, making their decisions smarter, without requiring a Ph.D. in mathematics or understanding the alphabet soup of acronyms (DSS, OLAP, EDW). Nirvana is when analytics are embedded in every decision-making process, making every decision a “smart” one.
To get here, SAP has invested a significant amount of R&D to more closely integrate SAP NetWeaver into the core transactional applications it sits on (ERP, CRM). Major drivers for this push are customers that want standardization and consolidation of the IT architecture so they can better control and manage their TCO. The complexity of maintenance and the overall TCO multiplies exponentially the more disparate the solutions that customers stitch together. SAP’s goal is to provide best-of-breed and integrated performance-management solutions. It’s no longer a choice between best-of-breed and integration; customers get both without using bolt-on tools or applications.
Analytic Applications at Work
SAP is making analytics part of the embedded business process. For example, all companies have procurement professionals seeking to analyze the total “spend.” They also spend on indirect materials (paper, pencils, erasers). Big manufacturing companies spend a lot on the direct materials used to build their products, be they cars or industrial products. SAP’s imminent Spend Analytics solution (due in Q3 2007) is a sophisticated analytic application that automatically cleanses data, categorizes it, and presents it in easy dashboards and guided analytic workflows. This lets the VP of procurement view the spend holistically and decide where to further rationalize suppliers, reduce maverick spend, and save what may be millions of dollars.
Similarly, SAP is rolling out a new suite of Corporate Performance Management (CPM) applications in 2007 (including next-generation Strategy Management, Planning, Consolidation, and Profitability Management). This suite will provide an elegant, yet integrated experience to the CFO — tying to other important CFO applications like Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC), a category SAP has pioneered. For instance, SAP Strategy Management (from the acquisition of Pilot Software) is an analytic application that fundamentally improves how strategy ties to execution.
For example, C-level executives begin their annual strategic-planning process by setting objectives, such as, “Next year, we will grow customers by X, reduce costs by Y, and increase service levels by Z.” These objectives are tied to metrics that the CEO agrees will be the company’s barometer of performance for the next year. Then, those objectives, metrics, and initiatives cascade down the organization, to SVPs, VPs, directors, and maybe even managers, who use the framework to structure their own goals and metrics. The manager responds with a budget-planning process to meet the objectives, and the budget plans flow back to the CEO. This process may cycle a few times until strategy and execution are completely aligned. Today, the process is typically done via countless emails — a painful, error-prone process.
SAP Strategy Management drastically simplifies this process, allowing customers to make the business process more structured and easier to use, while maintaining a single system of record for all objectives, initiatives, and metrics. Large customers are rolling this analytic application out to thousands of users in their quest to build alignment.
A good example of a vertical analytic application is one called SAP Manufacturing Intelligence and Integration (xMII; acquired with Lighthammer Software). xMII allows a manufacturing company to get visibility “from shop floor to top floor,” allowing plants to collect information from disparate shop-floor systems and integrate it into a dashboard where the plant manager can track the whole process.
The Role of the Ecosystem
While SAP has an unmatched suite of horizontal analytic solutions, as well as industry analytic solutions for 26+ verticals, it’s impossible for one company to build every possible solution. A testament to SAP’s transformation from the leading applications company to a strong platform company is the rich set of partners in our ecosystem that provide solutions our customers are seeking in the “white spaces.”
For example, while SAP offers an analytics application called Bank Analyzer, to help banks analyze their customers and product lines, we also partner with one of the leaders in predictive analytics, SPSS, for sophisticated banking credit-risk validation. Recently, SAP announced a partnership to resell Acorn Systems’ advanced profitability solutions. These small or mid-sized companies often bring innovation to SAP’s customers in white spaces SAP doesn’t cover. We require integration with SAP NetWeaver from every partner in the ecosystem, so customers can count on getting best of breed and an integrated solution, whether from SAP or a partner.
SAP has some crucial partnerships with large vendors, too: for example, Duet, our partnership with Microsoft. Duet is at the forefront of what is probably the most significant trend in analytics — making them understood and part of day-to-day life experience for non-power users via the familiar Microsoft Office tools. Expect to hear a lot more about our plans to bring performance-management solutions to the Office interface.
Making It Simple and Relevant
As data volumes explode, simplicity and relevance become core competencies of the next generation of analytic and performance solutions. Analytics are an integral part of every business process. For example, SimCity is a kid’s simulation computer game that builds a make-believe city. It uses sophisticated rules hidden within the game-playing process, but it’s easy to play. Analytics need to be as simple to users as SimCity is to kids.
To be effective, analytics also need to be relevant. Sales reps need to see their customers’ relative profitability; procurement managers need insight into their suppliers’ performance history; plant managers need to know at a glance the health of their shop-floor systems.
SAP has some of the industry’s best talent in this domain teamed up with veterans from within the company to drive continuous innovation. We are laser-focused on building the next generation of analytic and performance-management solutions on a state-of-the-art BI platform. Our customers expect it, and we demand it of ourselves.
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Tech. Sols. SAP Practice
Manager, Technology Solutions SAP Practice
Bridging the Gaps Between Your Core Systems
Composite applications from BearingPoint and SAP provide the linkage between your enterprise technologies to deliver value more rapidly.
No matter what industry you are in, your most important goal is clear: to create value for shareholders and customers. To accomplish this goal, you need to achieve top performance from the systems that power your enterprise. Often, one of the foremost challenges in achieving breakthrough performance is tearing down the silos between your ERP solution and other transactional applications and business intelligence systems.
BearingPoint has developed a suite of analytic, or “composite,” applications that bridge the gap between your transactional processes and key reporting and business intelligence systems. Whereas in traditional BI systems the focus centered around “read-only” analysis of data, users of composite applications can take direct action on the data. When implemented, these diminutive, yet powerful technologies can help you extract more value from your SAP investment and deliver it to the business.
Discover Nimble Applications
Chances are your company made a sizable investment in SAP technology and soon began to see marked improvements in how it managed key enterprise data. Since that implementation, however, you likely deployed add-ons to the ERP solution, such as APO, CRM, SCM, HR, T&RM, Business Warehouse, or point solutions, which increased overall complexity and created unintended silos of information.
Composite applications can help fill the gap between these silos by bridging your key enterprise applications to create a powerful, closed-loop system. In essence, these applications provide the flexibility to meet both your predefined and evolving requirements with a single, homegrown, demand-driven solution instead of multiple large-scale solutions.
Using the SAP® NetWeaver® Visual Composer tool, composite applications are simple to build, deploy, and update. Perhaps more important, you don’t need to develop these tools from scratch. Hundreds of composite applications, including powerful examples created by BearingPoint, are available today from SAP and BearingPoint.
Three Steps to Value
Achieving a more fully integrated SAP environment using composite applications requires a simple framework built on the following three dimensions: think big, start small, and deliver quickly.
- Think big. Look closely at your organization’s business objectives and vision; then identify those systems and processes that can provide more value than they do today. With a clear roadmap, you can begin to apply composite applications and see incremental, yet profound improvement.
- Start small. By defining and prioritizing initiatives and carving out meaningful phases, you can deliver more value in a shorter amount of time. Through this iterative approach, you can quickly identify increased value and then expand the functionality to other mission-critical processes across the enterprise.
- Deliver quickly. The small footprint of composite applications supports a rapid deployment and a quicker time to value. And, with more than 100 of the applications available out-of-the-box, you can begin to realize your vision incrementally while providing tangible benefits to your business along the way.
Getting Started: Follow the Demand
We believe your business can reach its goals sooner by more fully tapping the potential of your SAP technology. To do this, we suggest you follow demand within the enterprise. What information is your management team currently lacking? Are there obvious gaps in your transactional applications and business intelligence systems? If so, you could benefit from composite applications available from SAP and BearingPoint.
Whether you develop your own composite applications or decide to use those created by SAP and BearingPoint, you will be taking a significant first step toward transforming your processes, bridging the gaps between core systems, and delivering increased value to the business. Please visit us at www.bearingpoint.com/sap for more information.
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SAP Enterprise SOA and Citrix Application-Delivery Infrastructure:
Citrix Shifts Your SAP Solutions into High Gear
The flexibility of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI) makes it a powerful ally in your struggle to provide timely, accurate reports and analyses to the rapidly escalating number of regulatory agencies, business analysts, stockholders, stakeholders, and partners who need them. And SAP NetWeaver provides a technical foundation for SAP’s enterprise service-oriented architecture, an enterprise SOA that can help transform inflexible data silos and legacy applications into integrated systems to meet changing needs.
But providing a secure, high-quality end-user experience for large, data-intensive reports and spreadsheets can be tricky. Large data transfers are likely to collide with competing network traffic and to suffer further delays resulting from poor network conditions.
Similarly, if you’ve been contemplating an enterprise SOA, you know that the standards upon which these Web-based applications traditionally draw — HTTP, HTML, and XML, for example — are inherently “chatty.” This increased network traffic can cause even well designed architectures to suffer problems on slow networks, which in turn can degrade the users’ experience and undermine their productivity. Also, reinventing legacy applications as Web services can be costly. Exciting new application-delivery technologies from Citrix Systems address these and other pain points.
As a member of SAP’s Enterprise Services (ES) Community, Citrix recently tested its application-delivery infrastructure on an SAP ERP Discovery Server system in the ES Community’s Enterprise Networking Lab (ENL). The tests show that Citrix’s infrastructure components produce remarkable results. For example, they can:
- Reduce SAP user’s wait time over networks 50% to 99%
- Improve overall network performance by as much as 97%
- Reduce SAP NetWeaver Portal server workload by up to 60%
- Deliver significant management and security benefits
- … and more
To simulate a user’s eye view of the effects large data transfers can have across a variety of access scenarios, the ES Community devised a test script around the SAP Knowledge Management module. A key measurement for this test was the time it took users to download 5MB of data — a download size that represents data-transfer challenges users often encounter in BI scenarios. Citrix executed this script using the following products, all part of the Citrix family of application-delivery infrastructure solutions:
- Citrix NetScaler: A single network-optimization appliance that combines the functions of many point products — including server load-balancing, caching, compression, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) acceleration, and attack defense
- Citrix WANScaler: A high-performance application and data-delivery appliance for branch-office users; automatically applies to each data flow a combination of performance-boosting techniques depending on the application, data, and network conditions that allow it to help deliver LAN-like performance across the enterprise
- Citrix Presentation Server: Citrix’s flagship application-delivery system; securely provides end-to-end application access to users anywhere, on any device, with any network connection, using virtualization and application-streaming technologies
- Citrix Access Gateway with Advanced Access Control: A universal SSL virtual private network (VPN) appliance that provides secure, anytime access to enterprise applications and data (Advanced Access Control manages both information and users’ actions based on their roles, locations, devices, and network connections)
- Citrix EdgeSight: A quality-assurance tool that monitors users’ actual application experience; provides the summary and detailed data companies need to ensure their IT resources run at peak efficiency
Citrix also used this product family to execute test scripts measuring SAP’s enterprise SOA in both open and saturated network conditions. Citrix performed all tests using its products alone and in combination on simulated wide-area networks (WANs) of various qualities. Tests revealed Citrix’s ability to offload CPU-intensive tasks from SAP NetWeaver Portal, thereby enabling the system to support more users with fewer resources.
Tests measured response-time improvements over network qualities ranging from local-area network (LAN) conditions (0% data loss, 4-millisecond [ms] latency) to remote-worker or branch-office conditions (1% data loss, 150-ms latency). As the graph below illustrates, Citrix application-delivery infrastructure significantly improves the users’ experience across a wide range of networking conditions.
Test results proved conclusively that a single, centrally located NetScaler appliance can improve large-file download times by about 80%.
For WAN scenarios, WANScaler appliances (one at each end of the test WAN network) delivered a first-time view of the 5MB data download 95% faster than did the SAP baseline configuration alone and subsequent views 99% faster.
In combination, NetScaler and WANScaler shaved WAN response times until they were virtually indistinguishable from LAN response times. This means branch-office users halfway around the world can enjoy the same rich application experience as their colleagues at company headquarters do.
Citrix Presentation Server
This product reduced SAP response times by 60% to 97%, but the benefits of using it extend far beyond LANs and WANs. Citrix Presentation Server virtualizes client-side application interfaces for all users, thereby eliminating the task of assessing or configuring individual users’ PCs and laptops from the project team’s to-do list.
Sending little more than screenshots, keystrokes, and mouse clicks across any type of network, including the Internet, Citrix Presentation Server offers rich, LAN-quality application experiences to users who access SAP from any computing device as well as many additional benefits.
For example, your company’s SAP users need a variety of applications to perform their jobs: SAP GUI, BEx Analyzer, or Web browsers. Problems with delivering such a varied array of client applications abound.
Citrix Presentation Server brings all these moving pieces to your company’s data center from users’ PCs — simplifying management responsibilities, lowering costs, and improving user performance. Better yet, your company gets complete control of what data, reports, and other information users save to PCs and laptops outside its protected network, eliminating inadvertent data leaks via lost or stolen computers.
By adding Citrix Access Gateway with Advanced Access Control, your company can also protect data by controlling access to applications on a role-based, case-by-case basis. Every time users connect, Advanced Access Control considers their location and device and grants an appropriate level of access. If you include Citrix’s innovative EdgeSight, your company can monitor each user’s personal experience and provide issue-resolution analytics, thereby helping your company deliver on its performance service-level agreement (SLA).
The SAP and Citrix Advantage
While you could use other architectures in an effort to reap the competitive advantages of Web-enabling your company’s business-critical SAP applications, SAP’s enterprise SOA provides a faster path with fewer risks and lower costs.
Likewise, you could cobble together several point solutions to approximate the optimization and security benefits of Citrix’s application-delivery infrastructure. However, only Citrix offers a complete family of integrated solutions that work together flawlessly. With Citrix, you can ensure secure, cost-effective, high-performance, anytime, anywhere access to the applications and Web services that drive your company’s business — and simultaneously lower the total cost of owning them. For more information about Citrix application-delivery-infrastructure solutions, visit www.citrix.com.
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Director, Product Marketing
Single Truth or Multiple Consequences:
Reporting on SAP and Non-SAP Data for One Version of the Truth
We’re tired of meetings where people are comparing apples and cats.
As this manager’s quote illustrates, ensuring a single version of the truth is central to your performance-management initiatives. Complicating the picture is the ongoing complexity of IT and business environments. Even with a solid reliance on SAP, your enterprise IT application and data environment is not likely to be homogeneous. You have multiple applications, data sources, and versions of both. The moment your company expands with an acquisition, you add new layers of complexity and integration challenges.
Even if your IT environments are relatively standardized, your business users are not. Competing requirements from organizational functions and lines of business further complicate the task of providing performance answers to a diverse, global user community.
Finding Common Ground
Leading organizations answer these challenges with best-of-breed solutions that draw more value from their SAP investment, and leverage legacy applications and data sources. The key is getting an overarching architecture that can handle complex IT and business environments.
A best-practice approach to performance management is “normalization” of heterogeneous applications and data sources across business and IT. Companies don’t constrain decision-making to the single-source data and inputs. Instead, they make decisions based on data dictated by the business need. Typically, this dictates cross-data source inputs.
This approach leverages IT and business data normalization through reporting, analytics, scorecards, dashboards, planning, and business intelligence (BI) from a single, integrated, and overlying platform. Such a performance-management platform shields end users from the complexity of heterogeneous back-end applications and data sources. It also reduces the burden on IT to support such cross-data source reporting.
Benefits include reduced time and cost to address end-user requirements, faster and more effective decision cycles, faster planning and budgeting cycles, and the accompanying reduced burden on IT resources.
Many organizations leverage SAP and non-SAP data using best-of-breed reporting, analysis, and other performance-management elements from Cognos:
- Nexans: This multi-billion Euro manufacturer of cables and cabling technology uses a proven and complete performance-management solution to bridge SAP and non-SAP data. Nexans Switzerland implemented Cognos to work in conjunction with SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW), Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and other databases.
“….We rapidly realized that Cognos had the ideal solution for standardizing BI across our SAP and non-SAP data. It would unquestionably enable us to move further ahead in our reporting.”
Cognos: Certified by SAP
Cognos was the first BI and performance-management vendor to attain the Powered by SAP NetWeaver designation. Cognos solutions seamlessly integrate with SAP NetWeaver Portal, are deployable on SAP NetWeaver Application Server, and leverage SAP BW and SAP R/3 through SAP-certified drivers.
Thousands of customers worldwide choose Cognos to leverage their SAP investment. Learn more about Cognos Powered by SAP NetWeaver, the value Cognos brings to customers, and the latest analyst perspective on Cognos and SAP at www.cognos.com/solutions4sap.
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