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I had the opportunity to sit down with Davide Rota, BI Expert lead at B4C Consulting at SAPPHIRE Madrid 2012 and pick his brain on what customers are doing with BI 4.0 to achieve their business objectives and run better.

Emily: With your experience working with customers using BI, how are customers are using BI 4.0 and other SAP solutions to improve their business outcomes?

Davide: More and more, we see many customers relying on BI to help their entire organization make better decisions.  And they usually start in one department then roll out to others, removing the reliance on IT. For example, CIR Foods is a customer we have been working with for several years. CIR Foods is a food service, restaurant business and operates in all areas of the food service industry. They are a mid-size company with global reach. They have over 1,100 restaurants and thousands of employees, including dieticians and nutritionists who develop menus, dishes, and culinary methods to satisfy all types of consumer needs in the Italian, Belgium, Vietnam and US markets.

They initially approached us because of their need for a planning and budgeting solution. After they went live with SAP Business Planning and Consolidation and reduced their budgeting time by 400%, they immediately saw the need to fulfill their growing reporting requests for users. But simply distributing reporting wasn’t enough. They decided to put key performance metrics in the hands of their restaurant managers through iPads, iPhones and Blackberries. And now, these managers have become reliant on access to their operational information.  Then this year, CIR Foods implemented SAP HANA so they could benefit from real-time access especially in getting these KPIs onto iPads to the restaurant managers.

But they didn’t stop there. They are in the midst of deploying SAP Visual Intelligence so that their users can navigate data on SAP HANA without IT support. Users will be able to create and navigate business data accessing POS systems. This is revolutionary as the users are now able to understand in real time what customers are eating and which dishes are best sellers. Combining data from POS and purchasing systems, they are now able to better define purchasing policy. At the same time, they are implementing SAP Predictive Analysis to help CIR Foods in several areas to improve their business functions:

  • Performing demand forecasts and predicting restaurant attendance fluctuations
  • Optimization of food purchases to reduce waste ( something like 30% of turnover)
  • Human resource planning in allocating employees to the right restaurants and food service functions

CIR Foods is a good example of how companies are using BI and the next generation of BI, DW technology to positively affect their business outcomes. They are doing this not only to improve their top line results, but removing reliance on IT which will reduce the bottom line.

Emily: What would you suggest to SME customers where they should start to ensure an immediate payback on the use of BI?

Davide: I would suggest that customers select a software vendor they can grow with. It’s important to select a solution that has the breadth of BI and analytics capabilities. But start with fulfilling those high priority projects that will show an immediate impact to the business. The days of traditional BI ways are over with the introduction of new technologies such as in-memory and data exploration. By extending data exploration, dashboards and reporting solutions to business users based on their use case and using that on top of an innovative in-memory analytics platform such as SAP HANA, you can equip your entire organization to make better decisions and stay competitive and relevant in your business. Too many times I have heard “this product is not enough flexible for our needs”.  But if you look at the SAP Business Objects BI Suite, I think you can find the best of breed of business solutions to help organizations make faster and better decisions. The most difficult part of deploying a BI solution is understanding what users need and then choosing the best fit application in a set of BI solutions like the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite to solve their business problems.

Hopefully, this interview with Davide Rota will be helpful for small to mid-sized enterprises looking to make faster and smarter decisions. If you have any other questions for future interviews, please leave a comment below!

Davide Rota is the BI Expert lead at B4C Consulting specializing in business intelligence, corporate performance management software implementations. Based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, B4C Consulting has helped numerous SAP small and midsize companies implement SAP BI and EPM solutions to support their business strategy.

Emily Mui, Ecosystems and Channel Product Marketing is a veteran in the BI industry with over 12 years of experience helping customers and working with partners, product development on the topics of dashboards, predictive analysis, mobile analytics and real-time BI.