Business Intelligence Summit: The power of data

Getting to know the diverse world of Business Intelligence in a compact form – this is how the BI Summit 2020 of IBsolution can be aptly summarized. Unfortunately, the Corona pandemic did not allow the participants to meet in person. But even in virtual form the event offered BI interested people a great opportunity to learn everything about the future SAP strategy in the area of Business Intelligence. They were also given valuable insights into the successful implementation of BI projects in order to derive insights for the challenges in their own company. During the Business Speed Coachings, like-minded people were able to exchange ideas intensively under the guidance of BI experts. In the panel discussion, Helge Sanden, Editor-in-Chief of the IT online magazine, Lothar Henkes, Vice President Product Management SAP EDW at SAP Germany, and Loren Heilig, Managing Director of IBsolution, discussed current trends and future perspectives for reporting, analytics and planning

Give Data Purpose – with data on the intelligent enterprise

Ramin Mirza, Head of Platform & Technologies at SAP Germany, impressively demonstrated the potential of consistent and comprehensive data analysis in his keynote speech #GiveDataPurpose. He explained that currently only 0.5% of the data produced is actually used. In order for companies to extract business-relevant information from their data, they need a holistic data strategy that takes into account not only technological aspects, but also the process and business level.

With the concept of the Intelligent Enterprise, SAP wants to accompany its customers on their way to becoming data-driven companies. The SAP portfolio offers the possibility of evaluating experience data in addition to operational data. After all, the experiences of customers and employees play an increasingly important role in business success. At the heart of this intelligent enterprise is the Business Technology Platform with its four core areas of analytics, intelligent technologies, database & data management, and application development & integration.

Practical experience

The presentations and interviews of the virtual BI Summit 2020 gave the participants ideas on how to succeed on the path to a data-driven company. For example, the fashion company s.Oliver and Optima packaging group, a medium-sized company for packaging machines, reported on their respective migrations to SAP BW/4HANA. Both companies had chosen IBsolution as project partner.

s.Oliver chose the In-place Conversion as migration scenario. Among other things, this was the obvious choice, as around 75% of the objects were already BW/4HANA-compliant. With the help of the migration tools provided by SAP, the project expenditure could be calculated very precisely. In addition, the decision to keep the scopes small by migrating model by model proved to be advantageous when implementing the system change.

The initial situation at Optima was different: There, the classic BW architecture with SAP BW 7.0 had gradually reached its limits, so the desire for faster, more flexible provision of the relevant information grew. A HANA infrastructure was not yet available in the company. Consequently, greenfield implementation crystallized as a suitable path to SAP BW/4HANA. One of the advantages of this migration scenario was that the existing BW system initially continued to run in parallel. The available business content also spoke in favor of the greenfield approach, because the required content could be set up quickly.

Uniform reporting with the SAP Analytics Cloud

The Refratechnik Group, a manufacturer of refractory materials, also provided insights into its latest BI project at the BI Summit 2020: the introduction of the SAP Analytics Cloud with a live mobile connection to SAP BW/4HANA. The aim was to establish a uniform group reporting system and to strengthen the self-service approach. In addition, predictive analyses were to help derive future events and trends and set up plan data models.

In view of the requirements for the future solution, the modern reporting and modeling approaches spoke in favor of the SAP Analytics Cloud. At the same time, Refratechnik also introduced the in-memory database technology in the company with SAP BW/4HANA. Here, Refratechnik relies on predefined key figures and up to 70 dimensions per data model. In other words: The specifications for reports and analyses are almost fully exploited. Only live connections to the SAP Analytics Cloud are realized, data replication only takes place for planning models. The SAC is now used throughout the group.

Know-how on selected SAP solutions

In addition to project reports, the BI Summit 2020 also offered participants the opportunity to gain know-how on current business intelligence products and functionalities from SAP. The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud offers a platform for creating data models and integrating data and was developed specifically for the cloud. The scalable solution integrates data from on-premise and cloud systems. This data can either be replicated and persisted or accessed live from the data source.

SAP S/4HANA offers the functionality to map operative reporting via CDS views directly in the ERP system. The participants learned in which use cases embedded analytics can be used to supplement reporting in the business warehouse. The functionality and the available tools were also explained in detail. A live demo illustrated how embedded analytics can be used.

Outlook: The path to the data-driven enterprise

In the concluding panel discussion, Helge Sanden, Lothar Henkes and Loren Heilig discussed the question of what role data plays in the business processes of companies and concluded that all companies face the same challenge: To be successful in the future, they must become data-driven companies.

SAP provides the necessary tools for this and leaves it up to the companies whether the data is consolidated on-premise or in the cloud. In principle, there are suitable solutions for both strategies: Those who want to run their data warehousing on-premise or in a private cloud can choose between SAP BW/4HANA and SAP SQL Data Warehousing. Conversely, the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is SAP’s strategic offering when it comes to offering data warehousing in the public cloud. It is also possible to combine the cloud and on-premise approach in a hybrid scenario. In this context, Lothar Henkes expressly emphasized that the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is not intended to replace on-premise solutions in the medium to long term.

Which variant a company ultimately chooses is therefore not dependent on the availability of suitable solutions, but rather on the individual prerequisites that the company has with regard to its IT infrastructure. It is important to keep an eye on a specific trend: As Loren Heilig described, the volume of data outside of the classic ERP system is growing rapidly and companies are keen to integrate data from external sources, for example from sales and marketing. In such a scenario, he said, it is certainly advantageous to choose a public-cloud approach for reporting. Conclusion: Companies must develop a holistic data warehouse strategy in order to get the most out of their data and thus secure competitive advantages.

TECH TRENDS 2020 – 8 TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE YOUR BUSINESS

Digital Transformation

  1. Language continues to gain ground
  2. Multi-Connected Businesses and the crux of the matter
  3. The advantages of online and offline for retailers: Connected Retail
  4. Creating a technical basis for the future: API Readiness
  5. New Mobility – Catch me if you can
  6. Internet of Things (IoT)
  7. Augmented Reality – slowly it gets serious
  8. 5G – new networks for new opportunities

LANGUAGE ON THE RISE

Even if the current digital assistants like Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa are not yet perfect – they learn quickly. In 2019, speech, voice input and voice control will continue to be an important topic. Companies that have no experience with voice applications or have never created a skill for Google or Alexa should start now at the latest. The artificial intelligences behind the speech systems are learning at an exponentially increasing speed, which means that those who have no experience in using the speech systems will quickly lose touch with the rest of the world.

The topic of Voice-as-UI has been on our minds for some time now:

Voice-as-UI: Where we are and what we know
Whitepaper Voice-as-UI: What does Voice-as-UI mean for future web and online applications?

MULTI-CONNECTED BUSINESSES AND THE KRUX WITH THE CONTENT

The trading business has been shifting towards marketplace dominance for years. Whether Zalando, Amazon, Alibaba or Otto – to be able to exist as a trader, there is often no way around marketplace participation. This requires not only high data quality per se, but also an increasingly strong ability to import this data into marketplaces and to post and deliver sales. Due to the further expected growth of speech as a user interface, contextuality and sensor technology will be added to the already high demands on the responsiveness of the content. This means that the content currently produced by companies (images, descriptive texts, instructions, buttons, etc.) must no longer be optimized for different screen sizes (responsive content), but in the future also for different senses (sensor technology).

This will probably not start to become noticeable until the end of 2019, when online shops and media providers will notice traffic losses because the produced content simply cannot be played back on voice assistants or other audio devices, the appropriate Call-2-Action is missing or the user is simply overwhelmed with the information offered. We think that content will have to start becoming multi-sensory and contextual as early as 2019 – because what the user does not hear is simply not present in their world.

THE ADVANTAGES OF ONLINE AND OFFLINE FOR THE RETAIL INDUSTRY: CONNECTED RETAIL

In 2019, the connection between the online and offline worlds in retail will continue to grow. About two years after the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon, digital technologies are increasingly being tested in the Amazon universe. In addition, more (stationary) retailers are expanding their digital expertise, driven by technologies such as AR. Pure Players are pushing into the area and using flagship stores both for a special customer experience (Amazon, bonprix, Mister Spex) and, more recently, for sales (Zalando outlet in A-locations). In addition, the digital technologies at the offline POS are linked to the digital channels.

There are some exciting examples of this:

Amazon Go Stores offer Cashierless Checkout (products taken along are assigned to the buyer directly in the store)
Kroger (US) builds a digital store together with Microsoft
Saturn with an increasing networking of its stationary surfaces
bonprix is also planning to open a digital store in the centre of Hamburg
Companies will increasingly be available on a larger number of digital touchpoints (after desktop & mobile, perspectively also on all Internet-enabled devices); in the future, this will only be possible with an interface-based strategy. In 2019, the topic of APIs will gain further momentum in the business context and will be the digital homework for many companies. Headless systems fill the gap and will in future advance the paradigm of (modular) API-based systems. Almost all major shop systems (e.g. commercetools and Hybris) are now investing (or are based) in the development of functional APIs that are available independently of the front-end. So the goal for many exciting new e-commerce developments is no longer “mobile first” but “headless API first”.

NEW MOBILITY – CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

2019 and these questions are still open: What will move us in the coming years, how do we finally get our cities car-free, when and how do we switch to electricity, do we always have to have four wheels and how do we organize everything on our mobile phones?

The classic German car manufacturers seem to be waking up, are upgrading their e-mobility production with gigantic sums of money, are investing massively in charging concepts and digital strategies, and are joining forces in the fight against Tesla, Uber, Waymo, etc. It seems that the real race is no longer taking place on the streets and in front of car dealerships – it’s more about getting onto the mobile devices and in-car systems of customers. So there it is!

This year, Daimler and BMW are marrying their car sharing subsidiaries Car2Go and DriveNow with the highly successful mobility app MyTaxi into a new billion-dollar corporation. Finally understood and finally together, “Mobility as a Service” is less about the vehicle and its features than about availability, access and smartness. The right use case at the right time (read more in our whitepaper Digital Business Models of Car Manufacturers) wins customers and fills coffers. MyTaxi, for example, boasts a substantial increase in turnover of 75 percent last year and a 60 percent growth rate of more than 40 million trips. As you can hear, the success is also due to concepts that were copied from the competitor Uber. Customers now have the opportunity to share a taxi with other passengers and thus get from A to B even more cheaply. Based on our own big-data analyses, algorithms and targeted benchmark analysis, we take the decisive leap forward and invest heavily in our own digital excellence – then we succeed in what everyone wants: profitable, serious mobility solutions that will scale globally.

What is still to come? Germany is getting ready for the e-scooter boom! With the expected registration this year, we will see more scooters with electric drive in our cities. In Switzerland, Denmark and Spain, they have long been very successful, in Asia and the USA anyway: as a last-mile solution and ideally as a sharing offer. And here, fortunately, start-ups also have a chance. The US models Lime and Bird show how quickly a real mobility alternative to the car can be put on the road nationwide and affordable for the user. Everything is data-centric, digitally networked, shareable and app-based and pre-financed by promising investors. Can be something. Have you heard of Hive? The latest spin-off from MyTaxi (with Daimler in the background): From concept to launch in the Lisbon test market in a few weeks. Hive is the new app for electric scooter sharing, ready to roll over Europe. Catch me if you can!

INTERNET OF THINGS

The Internet of Things is and remains the trend topic, especially for industrial applications. Here the demand for networking, communication and smart use of data is particularly high, as the investment costs are considerable. In the B2C market, the trend in the smart home area is becoming noticeable and is moving networked products such as security systems for house and apartment as well as various lighting systems into the spotlight. Food and furniture discounters have taken up the trend and will continue to bring IoT-enabled devices onto the broad market in 2019.

The increasing market penetration is made possible by the investments made (technology development, IoT platforms, development of efficient communication hardware). This area will consolidate the wide range of solutions with which industry standards and best practices are being established. Further innovations such as 5G will ensure the sustainable trend of IoT, so this topic will remain with us continuously over the next few years.

AUGMENTED REALITY – SLOWLY GETTING SERIOUS

For end customers Augmented Reality becomes a piece of more everyday experience. In the Gartner Hypecycle for Emerging Technologies, Augmented Reality is at a point where seriousness will follow. There are a whole range of drivers.

On the technology side, it will be Apple – with the solid integration of AR in the iOS operating system – and the WebXR standard, which may finally be adopted in 2019. This will allow immersive content to be seamlessly integrated into everyday browsing. The fact that Google’s search for “shoes” will in the near future display 3D models instead of images on smartphones is just one of the many obvious applications. Enhanced reality will also give stationary retail a whole range of possibilities for improving the customer experience. Whether navigation or further information about a product, an outfit or a store itself – there is no way around the curation of real and digital content if retailers want to remain in business in the coming years.

And then there is Niantic. The company that brought us Pokemon Go has just received $190 million in funding for its successor, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. As the title of the game suggests, players will be able to work together to enchant and transform their surroundings in what is arguably the first Massive Multiplayer Game on AR. In addition, the game will be a test for the edge computing of mobile network operators during organized events in real life (which already existed in Pokemon Go) (see New Networks for New Possibilities).

NEW NETWORKS FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Regardless of how long the auction of 5G radio frequencies in Germany will take, we will see the first market-ready business models and applications in 2019. They are driven by the technologies Edge Computing and Massive Machine Type Communication, which are part of the 5G cosmos. The fast data transmission promised by 5G will initially play only a minor role. Much more important will be the less publicly discussed technical features of the network: the very low latency, the – at low transmission rates – extremely high reliability with low energy consumption, and the ability to address many more devices per radio cell than today. 5G will thus become a driver of AR/XR, IoT and autonomous driving (or flying?) applications even in city centres.