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Dell and the Agile Data Mart

Putting an End to Analysis Paralysis

by Jonathan Byerly, Global SAP Alliance Manager, Dell | insiderPROFILES, Volume 8, Issue 1

December 15, 2016

Analytics abstract

Businesses of all sizes are feeling pressure from the ever-increasing data volumes they’re expected to handle. The growth in data often leads to “analysis paralysis” – the inability for organizations to determine just what data to trust or how to act on it. This was a prominent challenge at Dell, where reporting teams spent an inordinate amount of time moving data around instead of truly using it. Learn how Dell invested in SAP HANA to solve this problem and, in the process, developed a solution for midsize companies to do the same. 

Data processing challenges in today’s era of ever-increasing data volumes and data sources are familiar to companies of any size; standard reports aren’t ready on time, they don’t meet users’ varied needs, or a proliferation of standalone reports creates the dreaded analysis paralysis because no one knows which information to trust. Analysts spend more time pulling and preparing their own data than generating insights.

The sales operations group at Dell experienced many of these problems, with business reporting teams spending roughly 80% of their time moving data around instead of driving business insights. Dell discovered a solution to this challenge by turning to SAP, building an agile data mart based on the in-memory database technology of SAP HANA. Despite not using any SAP applications at the time, this decision proved fruitful for the company as it reduced its business intelligence (BI) costs by nearly half, improved report turnaround time by 60%, saw an 80% reduction in home-grown reports and saved millions of dollars in operating expenses.

Analytical Agility — the Dell Way

An agile data mart effectively put an end to Dell’s analysis paralysis. SAP HANA’s built-in business logic helped standardize key performance indicators and key analytical approaches and centralize their management, putting focus back on acting on insights instead of debating calculation approaches. The simplicity and speed of updating and enhancing these approaches also reduced the time to develop new reports by over 50%. The in-memory database of SAP HANA enabled the rapid response that is the hallmark of an agile data mart, providing agility and innovation at the pace of Dell’s business. Using SAP HANA, Dell was ultimately able to eliminate 80% of the 16,000 shadow business management systems that had evolved over 20 years.

Dell changed the narrative that solving data processing challenges could only be done by devoting immense cost and resources. Instead, SAP HANA was the basis for a cost-effective strategy where Dell achieved a single source of analytics truth for all data users, the capability to build new analytics and reports in real time, and the ability to keep IT focused on innovation by moving to self-service analytics.

Dell recognized that the need to make sense of increasing data volumes is not limited to huge corporations. By using SAP HANA to develop a cost-effective solution to the challenge, Dell saw a market for extending benefits to midsize companies and developed the Dell EMC Validated System for SAP HANA, Edge Edition.

This first-to-market integrated solution, specifically engineered for mid-market implementations, is an easy-to-deploy and easy-to-manage pre-packaged solution that includes not only SAP HANA, Edge Edition, but also the SAP Predictive Analytics Suite, Edge Edition, providing advanced analytics capabilities to midsize organizations. The pre-integrated solution arrives data ready and includes not only the implementation services, but also a two-week accelerator service designed to reduce time to value through workshops and hands-on training on the full suite of tools.

With this solution, the digital divide and barriers that prevented smaller companies from creating advanced statistical insights because of budget and resource constraints have been eliminated. The solution enables point-and-click access to the SAP HANA predictive analytics library and guides users through model selection and fine-tuning with simple interfaces. Analysts can save a custom model back into SAP HANA’s central business logic for all users to apply to their data sets and then use advanced visualization software to easily share the insights they uncover.

Because built-in business logic enables easy development of ad-hoc, programmed, and self-service reports, reporting becomes responsive to user needs. Like Dell’s own experience, users can focus on managing the business and not the data.

Benefits of an Agile Data Mart

The need to increase analytical agility is imperative for competing in the era of big data, but creating new or custom reports, waiting on standard reports, or even hiring data scientists are either too costly or do too little to address the ongoing challenge of achieving real insights through a single source of analytics truth. An agile data mart leads to four key benefits for both large and midsize companies: rapid response to business requirements, speedy delivery of reports and actionable insights, flexibility for self-service analytics, and increased business productivity. For more information, visit www.delltechnologies.com.

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Jonathan Byerly
Jonathan Byerly

Jonathan Byerly, for most of his 16 years at Dell, has focused on sales and marketing transformation though tools, analytics, content, and go-to-market processes. Under Jonathan’s leadership, Dell.com won “Industry’s best website” award in 2010 for its customer-centric information architecture. Jonathan helped catalyze Dell’s evolution from “offer-based” to “customer-based” selling through his taxonomy work in Dell’s customer relationship management and associated transformational sales training efforts.  



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