Business Objects or HANA? A guide to SAP analytics environments
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ARI, the leasing and fleet management business, has used SAP HANA to boost business intelligence (BI) and predictive analytics.
The family-run company operating 950,000 vehicles across North America, Canada and recently expanded operations into the UK market.
Its customers include Argos, Network Rail, Travis Perkins and FedEx in the US.
“Our main focus is to differentiate through technology and improve efficiency in terms of how we deliver the service to our customers," said UK managing director Keith Allen.
He said ARI uses technology to help its customers manage cost and reduce risks. Keith Allen said: “If you have a fleet that is managed properly and you can manage driver behaviour, insurance premiums go down.”
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HANA is being used to help ARI differentiate its business from other operators, according to Allen.
He said: “In the UK we see a need for more pricing transparency, which means we need information and this must be delivered in a cost effective manner."
The company started on the HANA journey a few years ago when it invited one of its customers – a pharmaceutical company that also uses SAP – to SAP’s labs in Germany, to show the benefits of real-time analytics. ARI now uses HANA to power its data warehouse, which is used to improve fleet management.
Many ARI customers use telematics units. ARI acts as a data integrator, providing customers with fuel card information from fuel companies, accident data, telematics and maintenance data.
Allen said: “We have all the data required to help a fleet operator manage a fleet. We can analyse fuel spend, how efficiently cars are being driven and we can start to benchmark driver,” Allen explained.
ARI’s IT department runs a customer technology advisory event in Las Vegas each year. Bill Powell, IT director at ARI said: “We have open and frank discussions with our customers. We use the event to help us establish our IT roadmaps for the coming year. We get their feedback and find what information is most relevant to them.”
The output from the event is ARI’s customer portal, which customers use to manage their vehicle fleet. The data in the portal allows customers to see servicing information and how vehicles are being used. Such records may previously may have been kept in manual record.
Previously IT had to build and optimise reports for the business. Powell said IT had to work closely with the business to optimise ARI’s Oracle and SQL Server environments.
“There was a sea of information coming in and it could take up to two days to pull together, which affected our service levels,” said Bill Powell. “In-memory HANA means we can answer questions in seconds.”
He said IT built data models in HANA, which could be reused by the business directly. Using HANA also means that the business can generate their own reports rather than relying on IT. He added: “There is no need for IT to go back and forth with the business to build reports.”
Allen added: “Our goal has been to drive greater efficiencies. The business can ask questions [of the data] and get responses directly. Customers can also build their own dashboards. It is self-service BI.”
The tools IT has provides means in the consulting side of the business ARI can work strategically with customers to solve business challenges by mining the data.
For instance, the system was used to help a US-based toilet cleaning firm used ARI to help it determine whether its cleaners were spending the right amount of time at each site, by measuring how long the vehicle was parked at the location.
In the UK, ARI helped a company that operates 7,000 vans to collate data on vehicle usage to ensure compliance with HMRC taxation on private mileage.