SAP Analytics Consultant Maik Bender explains why the SAP Analytics Cloud makes a company’s system environment fit for the future.
Mr. Bender, you’re a specialist in SAP Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI). Why did you choose to take on this kind of task?
I became interested in the topic back when I was studying business informatics. I looked into designing and implementing analytical solutions and soon found it was an area that really spoke to me. What was particularly fascinating was that SAP’s software brings together both technological and business management aspects. Instead of offering one single product to visualize analytical solutions, SAP offers a huge range of different products all with an analytical approach. This fit in with my interests twofold: I was able to gain a great deal of knowledge about a broad range of subjects and now have the opportunity to break new ground when it comes to development, rather than focusing on a certain product. The variety SAP offers is a huge asset in my everyday work and always allows me to present new solutions to customers that fit their needs perfectly.
But how can you find out which solution is right for the customer, given how much variety SAP offers?
I have provided my input to many different projects that varied significantly, both in terms of the technology implemented and the people involved. The key is to understand the depth of technical expertise the customer has and what kind of criteria the existing legacy architecture offers. There may be a case where a customer wants to reorganize its analytical system environment. First of all, we have to look into the extent to which the existing system has been developed, where the company wants to go moving forward and how the surrounding environment has changed. Which of the company’s departments do I have to involve? Who is already integrated as part of the system and who isn’t? Do we require additional sales channels? These discussions with the customer often throw up completely different requirements to the ones defined earlier in the briefing. Identifying the potential of a company is much easier if the customer has an extensive understanding of new technologies.
Rapid technological change at SAP is a challenge for customersMaik Bender, SAP Analytics Consultant
To what extent does SAP Analytics Cloud help leverage this potential?
SAP Analytics Cloud is a software-as-a-service concept that allows us to place the analytical functions and visualization opportunities of an on-premise system into the cloud. What’s more, SAP follows a “Cloud First” strategy. New applications and functions are usually developed for the cloud first, and are therefore released earlier to cloud users than to other users. If company data is already in place in a database structure, we can quickly change the front end and set up an improved reporting system that offers new insights thanks to state-of-the-art technologies and is also available through mobile devices.
If customers choose a hybrid approach instead of a cloud-only architecture, they can first test out the system. In this case the data remains in the company’s system environment and only the front end is replaced.
We have just been talking about front end solutions What about the back end?
The back end is the beating heart of any company. This is where data is stored and prepared. We use SAP BW/4HANA when it comes to modernizing the back end. The main advantage here is that new functionalities are developed and released for SAP BW/4HANA first, just as with the cloud systems. This means it is possible for us to implement requirements for analytical solutions that were just a pipe dream in the past. For instance, we only used to be able to link together and evaluate certain volumes of data. Now we can even add information to the data and use innovative technologies to recognize patterns and make forecasts. What is also key is that operational reporting can be implemented much more efficiently using SAP BW/4HANA.
What advantages does this have?
This gives you the opportunity to perform analyses in direct proximity to business processes. This opens the door to a much higher level of automation of business decisions compared to conventional architectures. Data doesn’t have to be transferred into another system first – it can be directly evaluated and retrieved while the business process is still ongoing. This, coupled with various data connectors in SAP Analytics Cloud, allows hybrid data access to key systems, paving the way for holistic reporting. The reports can then be supplied conveniently in browser form.
In your opinion, what areas should companies look into in the coming years so as not to lose touch with the pace of development?
Project-based work is all about agile project management methods. In the traditional analytics-based field of SAP, this area is only just starting to gain momentum. Here companies need to create new frameworks. Constant technological change is also a relevant topic from a customer perspective. Terms such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning or predictive analytics should be part of our everyday vocabulary. Customers should also be open to integrative systems if they want to leverage their full potential.
About Maik Bender
Maik Bender studied business informatics before working as an SAP Analytics Consultant. He has been working in this role at Lufthansa Industry Solutions at the Wetzlar site since 2016. He focuses on BI strategic consulting, SAP Analytics Cloud and integrative scenarios.