Mimosas at dawn, SAP serves up new cocktail for analytics

SAP staged a press ‘breakfast with mimosas’ session at the ASUG SAP Sapphire conference and exhibition in Orlando, Florida this year.

For the uninitiated, a ‘mimosa‘ is what would normally be referred to as a Buck’s Fizz, the key difference being that the Americans pour equal quantities of champagne and orange juice, whereas the Brits pour two parts champagne and one part orange juice – figure out the cultural difference rationale for yourself.

And yes, that was alcohol served at a 7am press conference.

Cocktail culture notwithstanding, after the ‘applewood bacon’ (one of America’s better gifts to the world) and Mexican cheesy egg cake things, SAP served up a selection of executives to discuss the world of data analytics.

Speakers included SAP senior VP of Analytics and SAP Leonardo Mike Flannagan; director of SAP program management office at Pratt Industries Stephen Filreis; lead data scientist at L3 Techniologies Jason Shearer; and manager for data analytics and engineering at Mercy (a care provision company) Jamie Oswald.

A new analytics cocktail

Into the discussion then, SAP’s Flannagan made note of the news that SAP is embedding S/4HANA analytics cloud into more of its applications including SuccessFactors (for human resources). It’s all about not having ‘learn analytics’ if you are working in another area of work, so that a wider range of professionals can get more analytics power.

“The expanded capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud are now directly embedded within SAP S/4HANA Cloud to ensure organizations can plan, execute and analyse in one system, breaking free from spreadsheet proliferation or stand-alone tools,” noted Flannagan.

Additionally, SAP Analytics Cloud now delivers contextual news feeds.

SAP says that the combination of machine learning and Natural Language Query (NLQ) technology augments human intelligence, leading to faster, more accurate results and greater business agility. The new feature “search to insight uses conversational AI to quickly provide insights into data by answering ad hoc questions in natural language on any device.

L3 Technologies’ Shearer referred to SAP Analytics Cloud technology as, “One of the most beautiful BI tools I have ever seen. A lot of people view analytics as a task where you have to take data from one place and then do something with it. You can do so much more if you are able to work on the data where it resides.”

Data connectivity & blending

Flannagan suggested that ‘live data connectivity’ plus ‘live data blending’ and being able to leave the data where it is could be key to enabling more analytics to be brought to bear across enterprises.

Mercy’s Oswald suggested that his firm has been using SAP analytics to improve the way the firm’s supply chain is able to operate. “What we have done with SAP is be able to get data into operation and actually use it to improve patient care and also feed that information forward in the electronic health records we’re now able to create.”

Pratt Industries’ Filreis explained that his firm has used SAP to work on business forecasting. His firm is using detailed 100 page reports on a nightly basis that details each of his firm’s operations budgets. This is directional management information that is available, useful and real and helps us deal with issues right away down to a granular level.”

Oswald from Mercy further noted that his company has been hesitant with cloud initially because it is a healthcare company. But, as the firm now moves forward, the company has taken steps to progress. “We do consider our data to be a strategic asset and we have had a good experience with the SAP HANA cloud so far — I’m always surprised by SAP’s ability to create analytics tools that people have a real passion for,” he added.

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