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SAP HANA Breaks Through Crowded Fantasy Backfield

by Kenneth Murphy

September 5, 2013

By Ken Murphy


SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott is on a sports kick. From the SAPPHIRE NOW sports-heavy keynote, to his recent USA Today column on innovation in sports and the reshaped game-day experience, to his sixth-ever Tweet, below, on the new SAP HANA-powered fantasy football app, McDermott is the front-man for SAP’s foray into sports and entertainment as the company’s 25th vertical industry market.

It’s a smart move. Sports fans, after all, permeate every demographic and industry, and most don’t work for companies using enterprise software. Yet with SAP HANA now powering the new NFL Player Comparison Tool for fantasy football, as well as the stats page, every sports fan has the opportunity to interact with in-memory technology.

I can include myself in that group. Over the past year, I’ve written my share of case studies on companies that have improved various business processes by implementing SAP HANA . But interviewing someone about their company’s implementation of SAP HANA, while educational, hasn’t actually afforded me the opportunity to see and feel the technology.

With SAP taking the plunge into the sports market, that all changes. SAP HANA has now come to me. So with the start of the 2013 NFL season kicking off tonight with a game between the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens and the Denver Broncos, there is no better time to test drive the new NFL Player Comparison tool. All in the name of research, of course.

While it’s hard to proclaim Week 1 of the fantasy season as a “must-win,” this week is a little different, as it’s my debut in a league comprised mostly of co-workers, and I want to come out of the gate strong. So I popped onto the player comparison tool to compare my top running back, Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin, with my opponent’s top back, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. Within a millisecond of hitting the “Analyze” button, the app delivered the bad news: Lynch is the “recommended” player:

One of the great things about the tool, though, is the abilty to customize the metrics. This close analysis (49.3-49.1) certainly falls into the acceptable plus/minus margin of error, but it warranted deeper analysis. So with ‘Upside’ favoring Martin (and really, what’s more important than upside?), I was able to weight that higher and downgrade the relatively unimportant metrics of performance, consistency, matchup, and intangibles, and re-analyze the two players. Voila:

As you can see, Martin is clearly the favored player by a longshot. SAP HANA likes my team, what else is there to say?

Having now seen SAP HANA in action up close and personal, I can see why McDermott is so bullish on SAP’s foray into sports. And to free him some time to pursue more sports possibilities, I’ll offer to personally present the NFL Fantasy Player of the Year presented by SAP to Martin after he leads my team to the championship.

Ken Murphy is a senior writer for SAPinsider and insiderPROFILES. His first fantasy football team featured Steve Young and Emmitt Smith. He came in third.

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