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IT Investments in Analytics: Changing the Way You Do Business

by Stephanie Buscemi | SAPinsider

January 1, 2012

Most CIOs would likely agree that the ability to demonstrate deep business knowledge and a clear impact from IT investments is important to success. This feat is not always easily managed, however, as new trends and technologies create challenges in the business world. Familiar with these challenges, SAP is giving businesses a way to turn them into opportunities by using technology to harness data assets and enable systems of engagement. This article looks at four organizations that use business analytics solutions from SAP to gain more value from their data.
 

As CIOs work to empower the business, several new trends are creating a challenging yet opportunity-filled environment:

  • A host of new technologies for analytics, mobility, social media, and cloud computing are providing ways to glean more meaningful data and insights, and CIOs must figure out how to manage this data influx.
  • The increasing pervasiveness of mobile devices has led CIOs to recognize that they'll have a limited ability to control this mobile explosion and that they must consider how to embrace the variety of available platforms when developing or selecting business applications.
  • A Gartner study found that 66% of the CIOs surveyed said being able to demonstrate deep business knowledge and show clear business impact from IT investments will be most important to their success in the coming years.1

A clear way to directly link business value to IT investments is to make corporate information more easily accessible when and where it is needed. Our SAP BI Benchmarking 2011 study highlights best practices for improving business insights, such as extending access to users at all levels of the business, enabling real-time analysis, and investing in self-service improvements.2

Capitalize on Your Data Assets with Systems of Engagement

Familiar with these emerging trends and the challenges they bring, SAP has considered how to best support its customers. With business analytics solutions from SAP, we address one of the needs for IT — the need to harness valuable data assets, enabling deep business knowledge and clear business impact. In short, we are helping customers use technology to enable "systems of engagement."

Traditionally, IT organizations have invested heavily in operational systems designed to manage business processes, capture generated data, and act as "systems of record." In a system of engagement, on the other hand, users can create and share views of data, indicating whether the information is factual or directional. A system of engagement allows users to look at all relevant information, consider its value and trustworthiness, and make recommendations accordingly.3

In this new paradigm, business users become fully empowered to gather and analyze their own data, but within a corporate infrastructure and with safeguards. To get to that point, a company must understand its most important moments of engagement — those activities that are most critical to its performance — and how better or more timely information can improve outcomes.

Enabling Systems of Engagement: Customer Snapshots

Business analytics solutions from SAP help companies set up systems of engagement and find ways to get more business value out of their data. Let's look at some customer examples.

Fairfax County Water Authority

Fairfax County Water Authority uses SAP Business­Objects Analysis and mobile business analytics solutions to make project cost information available to managers on their iPads in near-real time, so they can make decisions about how and where to apply resources. These resource decisions are critical moments of engagement. "SAP Business­Objects Analysis is extending business intelligence beyond the IT department to other parts of our organization," says Tammy Powlas, a senior business analyst with the Fairfax County Water Authority. "Information that was once buried deep in Excel spreadsheets is available to many more managers and analysts. One of the most valuable aspects of the new solution is the fact that the staff can get key finance and operational workbooks sent directly to their iPads," says Powlas.4

Deloitte Services

With SAP HANA, organizations can instantly explore and analyze all of their transactional and analytical data in real time from virtually any data source. Global accounting and consulting firm Deloitte Services uses SAP HANA, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on the iPad, and SAP Business­Objects Business Intelligence (BI) 4.0 to provide visibility into profitability, talent, and internal IT projects across its organization. "Mobile business intelligence is crucial to our practitioners and our partners in the field. It is not conducive to have a laptop and have a conversation with a customer over that. A tablet is a much better paradigm to work from in order to have a conversation with a customer on where they stand on the project, what the billables are, and what the receivables are," says Christopher Dinkel, an IT leader with Deloitte Services. "Instead of taking hours and days to get information, we are returning that information now in seconds and minutes. That is completely game changing," he says.5

Etisalat Misr

Next consider Etisalat, an international telecom company with subsidiaries in 19 countries around the world. "SAP BusinessObjects solutions put all of our operations data to work so we can streamline processes and give our managers the information they need to make the right decisions quickly," says Hatem Hassan, business intelligence manager at Etisalat Misr, one of the subsidiaries. Even periodic monthly and quarterly financial reports are available almost instantly. "We complete the financial close on the first day of every month so that our consolidated reporting is always up-to-date," says Hassan.6

Altron

High-tech company Altron uses the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite to track its key performance indicators. "What-if" scenarios provide information to frequently out-of-the-office executives who need to receive results and analyze data from mobile devices. Debra-Lynn Marais, group information manager at Altron, says, "Being a global company, for Altron the delivery of the information is just as important as the information itself. We need to get information into the hands of the right people at any time, in any place. Because we operate in pretty much all the time zones across the world, with our executives on the move all the time, being able to take our information to where they are with the mobile platform has allowed us to make decisions wherever, whenever, however, and brought us to being an agile, forward-thinking company."7

Learn More

To learn more, visit www.sap.com/solutions/sapbusinessobjects.

Stephanie Buscemi (stephanie.buscemi@sap.com) is the Group Vice President of Marketing for Business Analytics at SAP. She is responsible for go-to-market plans and product strategy for SAP BusinessObjects business analytics solutions. Her recent book, Driven to Perform, is a resource for all business professionals, showing them how to "close the loop" on strategy, execution, measurement, and improvement. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA.

1 Gartner 2011 CIO Survey. [back]

2 The SAP BI Benchmarking 2011 study is based on data from more than 400 SAP customers and non-customers across more than 25 industries. [back]

3 See "Beyond Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement" by Stephanie Buscemi in the October-December 2011 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

4 SAP Customer Success Story, Fairfax County Water Authority, October 2011. [back]

5 SAP Customer Video, Deloitte Services, October 2011. [back]

6 SAP Customer Success Story, Etisalat Misr. [back]

7 SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, May 2011. [back]

 

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