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BI 2017 and HANA 2017: Insights from Deloitte’s Penny Silvia

by Nicole D'Angelo, SAPinsider Assistant Editor

March 24, 2017

As a longtime speaker of 15 years, Penny Silvia is no stranger to SAPinsider events. And her expertise is a familiar feature to frequent attendees. On Wednesday morning, I sat down with her to learn a little more about her areas of expertise and what kind of content she brings to the SAPinsider events.

Silvia, Managing Director, SAP Analytics Leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, mentioned that she enjoys SAPinsider conferences because the focus is around content. And she models her sessions the same way — they exist to help organizations optimize their solutions and processes. Her first session, “The power of becoming an insight-driven organization — Valuable techniques to engage and empower your user communities and embrace the power of analytics and insight,” was designed to be completely tool agnostic. Instead, the focus was on helping organizations assess the needs of value of their information and data, and then determine how to best turn this raw data into meaningful insights.

Silvia’s second session, “Assess the readiness of your organization to move into or step further into the world of SAP HANA, whether it's SAP S/4HANA, SAP BW/4HANA, or ‘standalone’ SAP HANA,” built off that theme by examining how organizations can examine their data to assess their readiness for SAP HANA and other solutions that are based on SAP HANA (including SAP S/4HANA and SAP BW/4HANA). Even though this session examined specific SAP solutions, the focus again was strategic, not solution based. Silvia used that forum to help organizations examine how to best get started based on their current SAP landscape’s strengths and maturation level.

Her dedication to helping attendees is evident in how knowledgeable she was of attendees’ most frequent questions. She spoke of common confusion around the future roadmap for business intelligence (BI) tools, how to best implement them, and whether investments from previous years will continue to pay off. To these users, she gives a simple piece of advice: “Don’t panic.”

Silvia went on to explain that while yes, tools are changing dramatically, the goals of what you are working to enable for your user community is not changing – but perhaps expanding. It is not the business function of BI that’s changing, but the speed, agility, and performance that you can get with modern BI tools. Therefore, the intention is not to completely scrap the investments that have already been made in BI; it’s to build upon those foundations that have already been laid.

Another source of concern that Silvia has seen among attendees is the question of when to move to SAP HANA if they’re satisfied with their current IT landscape. According to Silvia, the answer is to time the transition to SAP HANA with another transition within the business – incorporate the IT changes into an overall business case. As soon as an opportunity arises to do things differently, businesses can seize that opportunity to revitalize their IT landscape.

An organization that is SAP HANA ready, according to Silvia, is an organization that is ready to change and optimize its processes at the same time that it optimizes its systems. The two go hand in hand, and transitioning to SAP HANA without transitioning to optimized business processes won’t be nearly as effective.

At the end of the day, it’s ultimately not the tool but how you use it that delivers success. That focus on strategic content is something that Silvia finds valuable about SAPinsider events. Everyone is at a different stage of a similar journey, and at these events, she can speak to attendees, other speakers, and even representatives from other vendors about what they’re doing and where they’re going.

Everyone’s a part of the same ecosystem, Silvia says, and at SAPinsider conferences even vendors who are competitors can come together, discuss their experiences, and help attendees solve their problems. They’ll go back to competing with each tomorrow, Silvia says with a smile, but SAPinsider events bring them together in a truly collaborative environment.  

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