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SAP HANA: A Year to Remember

A Look Back at Notable SAP HANA Case Studies

by Ken Murphy, Editorial Director

December 19, 2013

NBA Vice President of Information Technology Ken DeGennaro stands in front of a bank of TV's and computer monitors at the NBA office in Secaucus, New Jersey. DeGennaro spoke with insiderPROFILES for a story in our October, 2013, issue about building an interactive statistics portal using the SAP HANA platform.


You’re a business traveler, it’s the end of a long day and you’re relaxing in your hotel room.  You’re wearing your comfortable old pair of adidas track sweat lounge pants, sipping a Lipton Spiced Cinnamon Chai. A basketball game is on the TV that piques your interest; so you forego catching up on email for a few minutes to check out some NBA stats on your iPad.

You, weary traveler, have unwittingly had an SAP HANA experience.

 Hotelbeds, adidas, Unilever, and the NBA were just a handful of the organizations we interviewed in the past year for case studies in insiderPROFILES detailing how they are using SAP HANA to help their businesses run better. Hotelbeds and adidas each deployed SAP HANA as an in-memory database to supercharge their SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3) environments. Unilever initially rolled out SAP HANA as an analytic appliance to accelerate its month-end close with SAP CO-PA Accelerator Powered by SAP HANA. The NBA is using the SAP HANA platform to power its interactive statistics portal at

 This just scratches the surface of the detail to which insiderPROFILES covered SAP HANA customers this year. Heck, we covered SAP HANA so thoroughly we even put out a special issue (360°, A Holistic Guide for Your SAP HANA Journey, available at So, as we get set to turn the page on a new year, we thought we’d take a look back at a few of our favorite case studies. And, in the holiday spirit of giving, we invite you to complete our SAP HANA quiz at the end of this blog for a chance to win an iTunes gift card.  

A Fresh Perspective

For the April issue of insiderPROFILES, we interviewed Colgate Global IT Director Ruben Panizza for an article on Colgate-Palmolive’s evolution from using SAP HANA as a test project to enhance profitability analysis reporting to deploying SAP HANA to power its entire data warehouse and trade promotion solution. Panizza told us that the test project – running brand profitability for its Hill’s Pet Nutrition division – produced reports that had taken several minutes in mere seconds, and with more comprehensive data sets and without business disruption.

With this success, Colgate-Palmolive turned to SAP HANA to more efficiently run its trade promotions, setting an ambitious goal of improving performance by up to 40%. By rolling out SAP Accelerated Trade Promotion Planning powered by SAP HANA, the company quickly reached its goal. “The overall benefit that running trade promotion planning on SAP HANA has brought to the business is that our users are spending less time building plans and therefore can spend more time analyzing their plans to identify opportunities and interact with their customers,” says Panizza.

Unlocked Potential

Also in April, we spoke with Eby-Brown CIO Kevin Reilly and Chief Process Officer Nick Lagen to learn about the convenience store distributor’s implementation of SAP NetWeaver BW Powered by SAP HANA to achieve end-to-end enterprise reporting and analytics. Having each of its seven distribution centers house its own financial data had prevented the company from a fully integrated, single source of truth.

After implementing a single instance of SAP ERP 6.0, Eby-Brown started rolling out SAP ERP Financials across the organization. With SAP NetWeaver BW powered by SAP HANA, financial information held at various distribution centers could now be viewed in real-time across all seven centers. This was a fundamental change. “We would have been satisfied with faster reporting, never mind the lightning fast speed that we got from SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA,” Reilly says. “The ability to run these reports at all was a big deal to us.” 

A New Sense of Comfort

In the July issue of insiderPROFILES we introduced you to Hotelbeds, an accommodation wholesaler that sells roughly 16 million roomnights each year through an expansive network of tour operators and online travel agents who also partner with Hotelbeds for online travel services and excursions.   With real-time reporting becoming more and more essential for Hotelbeds to react to up-to-the-minute changes in the marketplace, the company opted to deploy SAP HANA to power both SAP NetWeaver BW and its SAP BusinessObjects solutions to keep pace with its rapidly escalating data volumes.  


“We quickly realized SAP HANA could meet and exceed our performance expectations."

- NBA VP of IT, Ken DeGennaro

“Reports had been taking up to 30 minutes to calculate, and with today’s technology, we knew we could have those reports in seconds,” says Juan de Dios García, Head of Information Technology for TUI Travel A&D, B2B Division. “We didn’t want to settle for less than that.”

Sweet Improvement

Another interesting SAP HANA case study published in our July issue was that of Unilever, the consumer goods company whose products are used by approximately 2 billion people each day.  Hoping to bump that to about 4 billion people each day by 2020, the company set out to consolidate its roughly 250 SAP ERP instances that in order to handle the roughly 60,000 transactions per second that would be generated if Unilever were to grow as planned. 

By implementing SAP CO-PA Accelerator powered by SAP HANA, Unilever runs 4.5 billion records for general ledger line items and more than 400 million records for controlling and profitability analysis in SAP HANA. It reduced its material ledger runtime 66% and its controlling and profitability analysis is 10 times faster. “We are running a critical business process for Unilever’s €50 billion business worldwide on SAP HANA,” says Marc Béchet, Unilever’s Global ERP Vice President.

Nothing but Net

Turning to autumn – coinciding with the start of the NBA season – we published a case study on the NBA using the SAP HANA platform to build and power its interactive statistics portal on, giving its fans a one-stop shopping experience for box scores from every game in NBA history, shot charts for every player, comprehensive splits, all-time leaders sortable by category, and any other statistic the league tracks.

“We quickly realized SAP HANA could meet and exceed our performance expectations. The system can take a collection of events and sum it up in real time, with the flexibility to split segments and display information any which way,” says Ken DeGennaro, NBA’s Vice President of Information Technology.

All Day I Dream About … Analytics

Like Unilever, athletic footwear and apparel manufacturer adidas also has ambitious growth plans – in this case an additional €2 billion in revenue by 2015 – adidas set its sights on advanced analytics by implementing SAP NetWeaver BW powered by SAP HANA, consolidating its business warehouse landscape to speed up reporting in its wholesale, retail, marketing, and planning business channels.  

Says Miguel Voegele, Vice President of Group Functions for the global IT organization at adidas group, “Simplifying complexity will ultimately lead to self-service business intelligence (BI), giving more flexibility to the business users to create reports, dashboards, and analytical tools they need without having to understand the data model in the enterprise data warehouse.” 

These are but a few of the SAP HANA articles insiderPROFILES published this year, and we’re excited to dig even deeper in 2014 to report on some other interesting ways organizations are using SAP HANA to drive efficiencies, lower cost, and increase revenues. If your company has an interesting story to tell, by all means let us know. Maybe we’ll be including your story in our 2014 SAP HANA wrap-up.   

Pop Quiz on SAP HANA Case Studies

Now, about that iTunes gift card. Here are direct quotes that appear in one of 10 SAP HANA articles that appeared in our 2013 issues. Match the quote with the company. No repeats. Email me at with the correct pairings, and you will be entered to win one of five $10 iTunes gift cards courtesy of insiderPROFILES.  

    1. “We firmly believe that the goal of advanced analysis isn’t to create reports; it’s an iterative, ongoing process where it’s essential to have the ability to quickly prove or disprove a new hypothesis. SAP HANA ONE allows us to “fail fast” and change strategy fast. So overall, the benefits to us are that SAP HANA ONE is agile, affordable, scalable, visual, and fast.”
    2. “By empowering people in an ad hoc environment to get the information themselves, we changed the game.”
    3. “It’s the next level of information. We not only have more accurate data than before, but we can manage that data with much more detail because we can do a refresh of information in real time.”
    4. “We simply took those queries we were firing into our other infrastructure, tweaked them a bit, fired them against SAP HANA, and got the results back in 3 to 3½ second. It was so fast that we were questioning the results.”
    5. “Our appetites grew. We had this ability to throw all these different dimensions of information at the tool beyond traditional statistical measurements, and we wanted to give fans all of it without it being overwhelming.”
    6. “It enables (end users) to obtain the level of details required to effectively analyze the business without system speed being a barrier. Now, with SAP HANA, users can see the impact of the event changes to their overall account plan or commercial goals within the same day.”
    7. “We have reached a point where understanding our processes better and how to optimize them will make a difference — not just procuring the widgets, but measuring our performance around how we do that. That was our business case for having a consolidated analytics platform.”
    8. “Our SAP HANA implementation helped tremendously with a business scenario where there was an urgent need. But, perhaps more importantly, we gained experience and built a foundation for SAP HANA. And as an accelerator contained to a single (critical) business process, it was a fairly secure, low-risk use case.”
    9. “By performing these predictive models, we can look forward to analyzing what’s coming next and make better-informed business decisions. The business understands the potential this brings to unlock new business models, and that’s a huge benefit.”
    10. “Before SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA, many decisions were based on intuition and gut. Many times, we’d have to make a decision before we had the time we needed to pull and analyze the data, so we didn’t have the data to help inform our decision. We’re now in the position from a finance perspective to always get the information we need.”
Match that Quote!

A. Colgate-Palmolive

B. Globe + Mail


D. Pacific Drilling

E. Hotelbeds

F. Eby-Brown


H. Unilever

I. Marathon Oil

J. adidas

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