Expand +



Convert Data into Business Insights with Analytics Solutions from SAP

Empower Your Employees, Customers, and Stakeholders with Visually Effective Predictions and Analysis

by Padmini Ranganathan and Swati Sinha | SAPinsider, Analytics, Columns, Volume 14, Issue 4

October 1, 2013

A series of surveys by SAP found there is a clear need for meaningful insights for every individual at a company is at an all-time high, yet only few have them. This article explores that data.


Everyone is talking about how business is changing every day. But has it really changed? Remember how mom-and-pop bakeries used to know the exact flavor of cake you would like? Now, retailers such as Macy’s or Target know what your next purchase will be. Personalization and customer-centricity are taking center stage in big and small businesses, while they continue to operate optimally.

Many industries are transforming. Power-generation companies are no longer focused only on the grid — they want to know consumer preferences and patterns. Retailers are no longer looking only at the number of stores they have worldwide — they need to operate in a multi-channel environment featuring online, telephone, and onsite sales. Last year, smart retailers won despite falling onsite sales by pushing their Christmas inventory online.

With competition and options available, consumers have become more demanding. To top it off, they have information available to make the right decision. A few years back, if you had to buy a washer-dryer, you had to talk to a sales representative. Now you have reviews available on websites. This also holds true for the business-to-business (B2B) world.

According to the IDC 2012 Buyer Experience Study, 45% of the buying decision is made before the buyer has even said hello to a sales rep.1 In the case of the telecommunications industry, it is easy to quickly change service providers and go after the most affordable plan from a competitor. The banking industry has long seen low customer churn, but when Bank of America added a fee for each ATM withdrawal, it started losing customers to competitors quickly. Tracking new business signals and aligning actions with insights from new information in an agile fashion are the needs of the hour. The data sources and signals are growing and are no longer constrained to systems of record — ERP systems.

What does this mean for businesses? Businesses compile vast amounts of information, including sensors, emails, service center calls, log files, videos, points of sale, and smart meters. They can now use technologies and methods that can help them tap into analytics technology to produce golden nuggets of precious information, and provide simple visualizations to everyone in the enterprise, enabling quick and easy collaboration for high impact.

The Case for Self-Service Analytics

SAP recently sponsored a series of research surveys with Bloomberg Research Services across multiple industries. One finding stood out among all: The need for meaningful insights for every individual at a company is at an all-time high, yet only few have them. Figure 1 shows an example from the banking industry.

Figure 1 The banking industry is heavily involved in customer centricity and big data analytics (Base: 100 executives of small, midsize, and large banks worldwide. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek 2013 Banking Customer Centricity Study.)

Analysts and data scientists can communicate only so much information organization-wide on a daily basis. There is a need for self-service access to intelligent insights with analytical and predictive capabilities that employees can use. Consider these cases in which specific workers or companies would benefit from analytics:

  • A clerk in a retail store armed with details about customer-buying patterns can better approach a frequent customer with offers to convert interest into a sale.
  • A truck driver with real-time insight into alternate routes can optimize a delivery schedule.
  • A utility company can better forecast and plan for the production and transmission of power if it is armed with the consumption patterns based on frequent readings of smart meter data, combined with social sentiment and the adoption trend of solar power generation by location.
  • A maintenance crew at an airport with real-time insights on wear and tear of various parts of an in-flight aircraft can prepare a maintenance plan that minimizes the ground time of that aircraft.
  • A marketing manager armed with consumer and market behavior trends can enter a new market with the right strategy and promotions.
  • A CFO or CMO can understand customer or product profitability to better manage resources, thereby helping to decide whether to continue investing in a high-maintenance customer or service. Similarly, they can know whether to continue or discontinue a certain product line to optimize resource use or discontinue to better utilize the resources.

At SAP, we have seen many companies enjoying the benefits of enterprise-wide business intelligence (BI) deployments. Many companies have started their journey of empowering every individual in a line of business with relevant solutions by implementing out-of-the-box content that delivers quick ROI and adoption. To get started today, you can download predefined content by visiting

Agile Visualization Empowers Employees

With SAP Lumira and SAP Lumira Cloud, companies can use rich visualization to enable employees to see data in a new light and collaborate using visuals such as:

  • A word cloud that calls out the brand sentiment of consumers
  • A geospatial map to identify problems such as a  power outage
  • A bubble chart view that empowers employees to see the size and scale of a success or problem
  • A scatter plot to identify the profit destroyers, whether it is a product line, customer, process, or service
  • A geo heat map to track the spread of an epidemic
  • Visualization of specific data sets, such as baby boomers’ mobile usage, including popular plans, music, content, and regions (see Figure 2)

Figure 2 Analysis of baby boomers' mobile phone usage for targeted marketing (note that this is not real data)

Visualization affects a variety of employees. For example, a financial controller is now tasked with transforming all operational data from various departments — HR, procurement, purchasing, or merchandising — into financial key performance indicators (KPIs). With an advanced visualization tool, the controller can easily see the amalgamation of data and have a good sense of the business’s financial health. 

Start your journey for better  visualizing data by downloading a free personal version of SAP Lumira at

Advanced visualization capabilities help visualize predictive models and outcomes in a simpler fashion, empowering every individual to understand the impact of the predictions and make better decisions. Furthermore, the ability to share these insights collaboratively with key stakeholders, partners, and even customers can improve loyalty and trust and simplify day-to-day operations. A recent report from Aberdeen Group called “Visualization: Set Your Analytics Users Free”2 states that “74% of the organizations using visual data discovery enable business users to customize and tailor their solution to their needs,” which ensures the right information at the right time for individual managers.

Here are a few companies that have used analytics to improve their business processes:

  • HSE24, an online retailer, addressed its massive customer returns issue by deploying real-time analytics and visualizations, enabling tele-sales and tele-shopping teams to operate more effectively. See a video of HSE24's story here.
  • Vantage Drilling enabled command center and off-shore site personnel with the right insights based on sensor signals from drilling equipment to reduce service and maintenance costs.
  • Cisco brought its sales and engineering teams together to more effectively meet its customer requirements with innovative products. See a video of Cisco's story here.
  • Unilever was able to cut its product cost and pricing analysis to one-tenth of the time with in-memory database accelerators, and reduced its time to track raw materials by 80% with an analytics platform strategy.

Embark on your journey and share the business outcomes of converting amassed data into actionable intelligence, personalized to perfection. Share your experiences on the community discussion page at or with us on Twitter @padmniranga and @SNSinha


IDC, “The 2012 IT Buyer Experience Survey: Accelerating the New Buyer’s Journey” (October 2012).

Aberdeen Group, “Visualization: Set Your Analytics Users Free” (August 1, 2013;

An email has been sent to:


Padmini Ranganathan
Padmini Ranganathan

Padmini Ranganathan ( leads a team of analytics experts dedicated to industry- and role-based applications of analytics, finding impactful uses of business information. Padmini brings more than 20 years of experience in business applications. 

Swati Sinha, SAP
Swati Sinha

Swati Sinha ( is Global Director Solutions Marketing at SAP, specializing in line-of-business sales, marketing, and service. Her experience spans product development, solution management, and solution marketing, touching various aspects of CRM solutions.

More from SAPinsider


Please log in to post a comment.

No comments have been submitted on this article. Be the first to comment!