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Bridging the Data-Driven to Insights-Driven Gap with SAP BW/4HANA

by Thierry Audas, Senior Director of Product Marketing, SAP SE | SAPinsider, Volume 19, Issue 2

April 25, 2018

Bridging the Data-Driven to Insights-Driven Gap with SAP BW/4HANA main image

Discover how SAP BW/4HANA integrated with SAP Analytics can help your organization distill data into actionable insights that can spur the growth of your business. Learn about three challenges related to data and analytics and how SAP BW/4HANA enables your business to take three strategic steps toward evolving into an insights-driven organization.


Digital transformation continues to permeate and disrupt every business, from healthcare and transportation to telecommunication and retail. To compete effectively in a tech-driven economy, digital must be a strategic priority; failing to make it a priority and resisting change can often impede business growth.

Digital transformation is an organizational change brought about through digital technologies. These include cloud, data warehousing, big data, and analytics, which combine with rejuvenated business models to drive business growth. Organizations slow to adopt a data-driven approach are now being urged to move toward an insights-driven strategy, which translates into a more streamlined customer experience, better customer relationships, and an emphasis on actionable data.

As a leading player in the data management and analytics market, SAP’s next-generation packaged data warehousing solution, SAP BW/4HANA, enables businesses to become insights-driven and to reimagine business performance. 

Adapt or Die

Digital transformation creates more dynamic and more diverse data. Collecting all this data is only the first step. The more critical step, however, is turning that data into actionable insight through digital technologies. Some experts have expressed that the situation is dire and believe that 40% of businesses will fail in the next 10 years if they don’t figure out how to accommodate new technologies. 

In 2017, SAP commissioned global research organization Forrester to develop thought leadership strategies focused on how businesses can bridge the gap and transition effectively and efficiently from a data-driven to an insights-driven organization.1 The benefits gathered from this research were clear: 

  • Insights-driven public companies are growing by an average of 27% annually and it is projected that the collective revenues of the top 30 insights-driven companies will be $1.8 trillion in 2021
  • Insights-driven businesses are predicted to grow by between 8 to 10 times faster than the global economy

Data allows companies to evaluate what has happened in the past and enable more effective planning. Gathering data into one central data warehouse lays a solid foundation for an insights-driven culture by providing the capability to analyze and translate disparate data sources into intelligent, actionable information the business can use. 

Modern Data Warehousing Benefits.

The development and deployment of new data warehouses are driven by agility, leveraging the cloud, and the next generation of data. Driving digitization is achievable with a true big data warehouse, which offers several advantages for businesses seeking to adopt effective strategies. These include: 

  • More self-service access to any data
  • Improved system performance and scalability
  • Faster and higher return on investment
  • Improved business intelligence and immediate, live insights 
  • More consistency and quality in ongoing strategic decision making 

An effective digital strategy requires an organization to have an in-depth understanding of its customers, people, processes, and the digital changes that impact its real-time performance. On that basis, a roadmap to change can be formulated to disrupt and transform business processes. 

SAP BW/4HANA integrated with SAP Analytics solutions enables a massive adoption of trusted actionable analytics across a business, offering deployment options in the cloud or on premise. 

More Data Does Not Equal More Insight.

For the past decade, businesses have been drowning in data but found themselves starving for insight. Organizations struggling to adapt to change may assume that more data equates to more insight, but this is not always the case. Transforming data into insight requires an organization to have a complete understanding of the customer journey, coupled with the right tools and people with the right skills to turn that data in actionable insight. 

The Forrester research previously cited identified three key challenges relating to data and analytics, namely: 

  • Inconsistent quality of the data available among the sources utilized
  • Data materializing far too rapidly for organizations to manage it effectively (SAP has found that the closest estimate suggests 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day) 
  • An abundance of unconnected data sources, which may result in “noisy” data (for example, meaningless or unstructured data that cannot be interpreted correctly)

For many businesses, data is an underperforming asset that fails to provide essential insights. Furthermore, most businesses simply aren’t equipped to make the vital decisions needed from this data. 

Systems of insight power insights-driven businesses. The real challenge lies in distilling the information available down to create pertinent insights required to drive positive growth. Data analytics and management must become more agile and flexible to support the urgency with which insight is required. The answer lies in data-centric alliances for greater efficiency and the adoption of technology that is equipped for future business needs. 

Bridging the Gap with SAP BW/4HANA

 The study also highlighted the need to ensure strategy embraces technology that is equipped to respond to future business needs and unifies data around a single, multi-layered data platform. SAP BW/4HANA, which is built on SAP’s advanced in-memory platform SAP HANA, empowers businesses to transition to an insights-driven organization in three strategic steps: 

  • Simplify the provisioning of timely business insights
  • Capitalize on the value of all business data already available
  • Innovate with one trusted source to create a truly insights-driven business

Data practices are transformed for agility and efficiency, offering live and immediate insights that are deployed at scale on premise or in the cloud. Data management and analytics becomes more agile and flexible, reducing business costs and risks while driving growth. SAP BW/4HANA is a new big data warehouse solution that complements SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics and enables SAP BW customers to modernize enterprise data warehousing.

Creating an Insights-Driven Business

The SAP BW/4HANA solution enables innovation with analytics use cases for insights-driven organizations that weren’t achievable before with classic SAP BW. For example:

  • Construction services start-up Katerra runs SAP BW/4HANA as a natural extension to SAP S/4HANA for real-time analytics and integration with other data sources. Simplified operations and implementation enable Katerra to stay nimble.
  • An industry leader in lubricants and automotive chemicals, Valvoline, plans to run SAP BW/4HANA in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. Its goal is to become more insights-driven and ensure agile insights are more readily available to the data analysts community throughout the organization.

Businesses that learn to leverage the insights from their data as a strategic asset are the ones that will deliver better insights to drive decisions and deliver a more profitable business. Senior executives from forward-looking organizations agree. Omar Bumann, Head of SAP Services at Swisscom AG, said about the SAP BW/4HANA project, “Our biggest accomplishment is that we have created a single central data warehouse that is adaptable as situations change. It allows us to work nimbly with the business to react to market developments.” Insight-driven decisions are critical to achieving digital transformation and to make more informed decisions. SAP BW/4HANA enables those insights with true big data warehouse capabilities that leverage modern digital solutions, maximize business adoption, and reimagine business processes with automated intelligence.

Learn More

To learn more, about the new SAP-commissioned thought leadership study about becoming an insights-driven business, visit https://bit.ly/2GOvR51. Also, be sure to listen to this SAP webinar, where you’ll hear insights from experts from Forrester Consulting, Valvoline, and SAP: https://bit.ly/2FBEWsx. You can find out more about SAP BW/4HANA by visiting https://bit.ly/2JChzlW, and engage with the SAP BW/4HANA community at https://bit.ly/2IIPUyk

How to Become An Insights-Driven Business, a January 2018 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP [back]

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Thierry Audas, SAP
Thierry Audas

Senior Director of Product Marketing
SAP SE



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