insiderPROFILES’ Top 10 SAP Customer Case Studies of 2012

by Lauren Bonneau, Managing Editor

December 17, 2012

2012 brought big acquisitions and new technologies for SAP and excitement amongst the user base about what these new technologies would mean for them. This year, insiderPROFILES magazine profiled some amazing SAP customers and published some terrific stories of their projects implementing SAP technology. Each of the business and technology leaders at these companies candidly shared their thoughts and experiences with us, giving us an inside look at the challenges and benefits of implementing these solutions. While these compelling articles amounted to a laundry list of case studies of businesses of various sizes and industries, I’ve narrowed down my list what I think are some of the most intriguing SAP case studies we’ve published in 2012.

10. Vodafone Goes Mobile with One of the World's Biggest SAP ERP Rollouts

The Vodafone name alone is noteworthy as the world’s second largest mobile service provider – surpassed only by China Mobile. The company has been in business for over 25 years and today serves over 400 million people worldwide – actually over 500 million people if you include the Verizon Wireless subscribers, a business of which Vodafone owns 45%. The mobile statistics are staggering. It’s undeniable that the world is going mobile – people feel lost without their cell phones constantly at their sides -- and businesses are becoming just as dependent on mobile technology. So I was not surprised when Niall O’Sullivan, Global Finance Transformat ion Director at Vodafone shared that the business plans, in the short term, to deliver 80% of its internal transactions on mobile devices – being that the company is in the mobile business. But what did surprise me was how seamless Vodafone’s global SAP rollout was, considering it was one of the world’s largest SAP ERP implementations to date.

9: Nu Skin Fights Aging Systems with New HR Software

With so many people talking about the SAP acquisition of SuccessFactors this year, I was happy to see HR in the spotlight as such a hot topic. Even though human resources are at the heart and soul of every company, I find that HR IT projects often don’t get the attention they deserve. I was thrilled to be able to work with health and beauty products maker Nu Skin on a magazine profile. Nu Skin’s story represented a fairly common situation – a company with no centralized HR system to collect employee data or provide standardized HR reporting – and so the business elected to implement SAP ERP HCM. During the interview, I was struck by how NuSkin genuinely put its people first, because its people include more than 800,000 independent distributors. Lots of companies say they are people-centric but don’t follow through when you look below the surface. NuSkin’s project involved personal attention every step of the way, and is a great model for others to follow.

8: Fast, Detailed, Actionable Analytics at Graybar

Every company needs to focus first and foremost on getting new customers and retaining existing ones. However, it’s easy to see how salespeople naturally gravi tate to paying the most attention to the customers that are spending the most money. Graybar’s story tells of a business that changed the way it managed its customers by providing sales with detailed, actionable customer analytics leveraging the processing power of SAP HANA. While the concept of customer stratification was a new one to me, after hearing from John Mansfield, Vice President of Business Development, I was sold on the idea and wondered how my own company could benefit from adopting a customer strategy like this.

7: Kraft Foods' Recipe for Successful Business Intelligence

The folks on the Business Intelligence team at Kraft Foods were such a pleasure to work with. They candidly discussed their experiences with adopting SAP BusinessObjects solutions, including the pitfalls, and were kind enough to share their four-point plan for speeding BI deployments. And speed was the main takeaway I got from their story. They sped up their report creation process enormously, where some reports that used to take weeks to create now only take minutes. And 500 million rows of data now render in less than three seconds. It’s amazing to think of what this means for business users and decision makers at Kraft. Not only the time saved but the faster analytics that can result, such as identifying and responding to trends like never before. That way they will know to keep up with product demands so they can ensure my favorite Kraft food -- Velveeta Shells and Cheese – is always stocked and ready for me at the local Ralphs market.

6: Mr. Potato Head Meets New Markets at Hasbro

Hasbro isn’t just all fun and games – there’s a serious si de to the business and that was evidenced by the Way to Work initiative that Hasbro’s executives described in this profile. This initiative involved an IT-supported business transformation to standardize systems and processes on SAP software, ensuring that as the business expands into emerging markets those local businesses can be brought up onto the core systems quickly. In addition to this article, there’s a fantastic video that CIO Denise Clark and Dan Ratigan, VP of Global IT, participated in available for streaming, in which they provide some additional insights.

5: NVIDIA Saves Millions Through Improved Forecasting Accuracy

NVIDIA is really a giant in the electronics and computer chip-making industry – along with competitors like AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm. To stay competitive in this field, it’s imperative to forecast customer demand and consequently inventory levels accurately. If demand dips, NVIDIA could lose millions of dollars from excess inventory. Deploying a new forecasting solution (SAP APO) and SAP BusinessObjects solutions brought about amazing changes to the supply chain. In addition to being able to visualize and plan chip production a year in advance, the business was able to reduce forecast inaccuracy by 2%. This reduction might not seem like a significant amount at first glance, but putting into perspective that this percentage translates to saving millions of dollars of potential inventory write-offs, it’s a pretty jaw-dropping result.

4: Early Adopter Surgutneftegas Takes SAP HANA for a Test Drive

SAP HANA was front and center at both of SAP’s events this year, SAPPHIRE and TechEd. Customers w ant to know what it is, how it works, and what it means for their businesses. Because the technology is still new to many users, and companies are just starting pilot projects with the software, it was not easy finding early adopters that were willing to speak about their experiences. I was overjoyed when Surgutneftegas’ CIO Rinat Gimranov agreed to share his story with insiderPROFILES readers. In the interview, Gimranov shared the real-time analytics and reporting advantages he sees with SAP HANA, even though the functionality is not yet in production for commercial operation. Anyone considering a HANA implementation or just wanting to know more about the technology should not miss this article.

3: New Balance Picks up the Pace and Closes Financial Books Twice as Fast

Not every customer that implements an SAP application is necessarily running SAP software for its back-end systems. New Balance is a great example of a company that continues to run non-SAP legacy systems, but has implemented an SAP application – SAP Business Planning and Consolidation in this case – for a specific business purpose. When support for its financial consolidation system was ending, New Balance selected the SAP application to replace the existing solution. This new application ultimately helped the company cut its average financial close time in half. In addition to dramatically streamlining the closing process, the business improved visibility to let the finance team focus on more strategic functions. And clearly, the less time people are bogged down running reports, the more time they have to analyze the data in those reports.

2: How McCormick Cut Its Database Size in Half with No Negative Effects

All companies, whether big or small, need to think about data storage. They need to question how long it is necessary to hold on to data, what the process is for data retrieval, and what back-up plans are in place. With a rapidly growing database at McCormick, the IT team became concerned about the time required to back up the company’s database — in some cases, it took as long as 24 hours. The team identified data compression of its IBM DB2 database as the solution and was able to reduce its database size by 50% without affecting performance. Previously, backup was taking 24 hours, and after compression, the process was cut to about 10 hours. For those thinking of ways to cut back on database size, the lessons learned from McCormick’s experience will be invaluable.

1: Standard Bank Shows How Mobile Devices Can Help Reduce Poverty in Africa

Living in a major city with an ATM a block away from my house, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like living in a remote area of Africa with no access to a bank branch, or better yet a computer terminal to do online banking. But that’s the reality for a large amount of the world’s population. And without easy access to banking services, people can have a hard a hard time doing simple tasks that I take for granted such as applying for credit cards, managing savings, or paying bills. Standard Bank saw an opportunity to leverage SAP and Sybase technology to originate new accounts by offering a way for people to easily open bank accounts and access banking services with their mobile phones. Not only did this story pull on my heartstrings but it also showed how SAP technology is not just helping businesses run faster, better, and stronger, but could actually help improve economic conditions in nations in ways I never c ould have imagined.

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