See Clearly Through Big Data

Jeremy Stierwalt, Jeremy Thomas Stierwalt, SAP Advisor

By Sam Sliman, President, Optimal

Deriving actionable insights — correlations, trends, outliers, etc. — in real time from terabytes of big data — operational, transactional, structured, unstructured — is vital to success for businesses of all sizes across all industries in today’s increasingly global, hyper-competitive, always-on, Internet-of-everything business world.

Businesses lacking the capability to effectively leverage big data are at a marked disadvantage. According to Gartner, most organizations are ill prepared to address both the technical and management challenges posed by big data, and as a direct result of this, few will be able to exploit big data for competitive advantage. Putting a finer point on this observation, Gartner predicts that through 2015, 85 percent of Fortune 500 organizations will be unable to exploit big data for competitive advantage

This rather bleak observation stands at odds with a worldwide survey conducted by Gartner (of 2,053 CIOs, representing more than $230 billion in CIO IT budgets and covering 36 industries in 41 countries) that ranks analytics and BI as the top technology priority for 2013.

Given that the majority of organizations have invested significantly in core backend systems — ERP, EIM, EPM, CRM, SCM, HCM, etc. — and upstream tasks such as data capture, storage, and cleansing, it is reasonable to conclude that this big data impasse can in large part be attributed to systems integration complexity, analytics skills gap, and lack of proficiency with big data visualization tools — three fronts on which SAP has made great strides over the past few years.

Tackle complexity

With speed improvements up to 100,000x, SAP on HANA is fast, empowering businesses to run in real time — to transact, analyze and predict instantly on a single platform at the moment of opportunity.

While the accolades for speed HANA has received are well earned, HANA’s ability to dramatically simplify enterprise architecture, reinforce stability, scale limitlessly, and generate big savings in the process should not be overlooked.

HANA simplifies IT landscapes by, among other things, eliminating instance redundancy caused by performance constraints of legacy hardware and relational databases. According to Ovum analysts Tony Baer, Madan Sheina, Nicole Engelbert, Carter Lusher and Warren Wilson, this simplification is one of the reasons why SAP on HANA could be a “game-changer.”

With HANA, it is economical and rational to employ an SAP-based architecture that only uses an in-memory database and a logical equivalent to offline/“near-line” storage. Sure, a relational database can chip in within this architecture, but its mission-criticality will take a massive hit. And if it’s much less important, it should be much less expensive…

Integrate tightly

The data required for effective decision making resides in numerous places throughout the enterprise — databases, data warehouses, operational applications, transactional systems, the Internet/Intranet, etc. Realizing the promise of big-data analytics/BI necessitates pulling all of this disparate data together in real time without disrupting business.

SAP BI 4.1 supports more than 140 data sources including Amazon Web Services’ Elastic MapReduce and Hadoop Hive, helping organizations bring more big data into the analytics/BI fold.

SAP data integration solutions, part of SAP’s EIM portfolio, help organizations leverage a wide range of data delivery options to integrate, replicate, or migrate data from various data sources — extracting greater value from data residing in applications throughout an enterprise and providing a single, accurate, consolidated view of information for improved real-time decision making.

The importance of systems integration expertise in today’s big-data world cannot be overstated, which is perhaps why Gartner predicts that by 2014 40 percent of spending on business analytics will go to system integrators, not software vendors.


Visualize clearly (anyone, anywhere, any device)

Big Data has moved well beyond hype. It is a top challenge businesses of all sizes must grapple with now — as in today. Drawing insight and actionable information in a timely manner from the massive amount of data available can no longer be accomplished with static graphs, spreadsheets, and day-, week- or month-old reports.

Ease of use is key to driving analytics/BI penetration in an enterprise, and intuitive visualization tools make analytics/BI more accessible and understandable to non-IT business users.

According to a recent Aberdeen survey, managers using visual data discovery tools are 28 percent more likely than their peers that use just managed reporting and dashboards to find timely information. Further underscoring the importance of visualization tools in driving analytics/BI adoption throughout the enterprise, 66 percent of users with visualization tools can initiate projects and drive solutions (versus 44 percent with no access to visualization tools.)

At SBOUC 2013, SAP announced the general availability of a free personal edition of Lumira, the visualization tool formerly known as Visual Intelligence. Lumira helps users analyze Microsoft Excel data by building interactive visualizations in a drag and drop environment in order to accelerate the decision-making process and uncover hidden business opportunities.

Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer are complementary and integrated. Lumira allows users to load, mash-up and manipulate data and then share their results back into SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for distribution over the web and onto mobile, making it easy for a greater number of workers to realize the possibilities of easy to use, self-service analytics in real-time on massive amounts of data.

According to Dan Vesset, program vice president, Business Analytics at IDC. “Close to 40 percent of enterprises are planning to increase the number of users with mobile access to their BI and analytics solutions.”

Building on its commitment to meet this need, the SAP Mobile Analytics rapid-deployment solution makes it fast and easy to create a mobile channel into the SAP HANA platform and existing SAP (BI) solutions (<6 weeks) — enabling organizations of all sizes to quickly realize the value of putting actionable, real-time data and reports in the hand of workers anytime, anywhere across the enterprise.

With SAP BI 4.1’s advanced visualizations and dashboards; extensibility to mobile devices; connectivity with SAP HANA; and integration with Jam, SAP aims to make advanced analytics available, understood and shared by 75 percent of business users with just two clicks, according to SAP SVP and GM of Analytics Christian Rodatus, who also predicts that the percentage of analytics users — most of whom will not be data scientists or statisticians — will grow from 10 to 70 percent in the coming years.

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