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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

After the preconference and Day 1, here’s a roundup of analytics goings-on at SAPPHIRE NOW / ASUG 2013 on Day 2, with links to resources and on-demand repeats of the sessions.

Wednesday morning saw another lovely dawn over the Orlando Conference center:


The show floor had a dedicated area to show off the SAP Scouting app used by the San Francisco 49ers, powered by SAP Analytics:


And another one to show off the power of personalized medicine (SAP HANA is capable of running the algorithms required to decode DNA directly in-memory, thousands of times faster than previous techniques)


Next, it was the turn of Jim Snabe to give his keynote: “Over millions of years, nature has proven that those who adapt best to change are those who survive”


The highlight of the session for me was Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of McLaren, who gave an update on their SAP HANA project. McLaren are in the process of implementing it internally – to better run their business – but also with the vast amounts of telemetry data that is generated during race days.

This is how he explains the power of SAP HANA to non-techies: during each a race, McLaren harvests six and a half billion pieces of data from each of their two cars, so around 13Bn in total. This is twice the world’s population. SAP HANA is like simultaneously putting a question to twice the world’s population, and being able to get an answer back in less than a tenth of a second.

He concluded:  “It’s just an amazing tool to put in the hands of both our engineers and our management”

Fred Samson came up on stage to demonstrate the latest prototype racing dashboard, that reacts to the data in real time:


The dashboard also shows the results of SAP HANA’s sophisticated in-memory algorithms, predicting the likelihood of various different outcomes:


Jim went on to cover a wide range of topics, including healthcare: “it’s not about curing diseases, it’s about preventing diseases.”

He also talked about how in-memory can improve sustainability. “With HANA, we can predict demands, we can predict capacities, we can dynamically calculate prices, and with that, maximize the value of the energy… have an opportunity to take out the peaks in such a system: they’re the ones that cause the trouble. We estimate that in Europe alone, if you take the peaks out, we can reduce the need for raw materials in utilities by 15% without reducing the access to energy.”

Next, I attended a great, detailed session by Ty Miller on Business Objects 4.1, which went RTC at the conference.


Next, Nike did a presentation on their self-service SAP BI strategy (some more shots here)


Then there was a great presentation by Pirelli (view the recording). The company has a product called Cyber Fleet, where embedded sensors in cars beam a stream of information. Fleet managers can use this to optimize the running of their vehicles by ensuring optimal tire pressures.

In the future, Pirelli plans to federate all the data from all the different vehicles in order to offer benchmarking and other services. You can see a copy of the slides here. The initial Proof of Concept is on around 40 billion events per year generated by over half a million fleet vehicles.



Here are some quick chart examples using SAP Lumira:


Next was a panel hosted by SAP’s Vijay Vijayasankar on driving business warehouse performance, with customers including Medtronic, Synopsys, Adidas, and Marathon Oil (watch the replay). The panel covered a lot of the standard reasons for moving to BW on HANA, including speed, flexibility, and meeting business user expectations. Medtronic saw query times of five minutes go down to just a few seconds, and load times were 40-60% faster. General challenges encountered included teething problems with hardware.

Medtronic: “I used to say you should never chase performance, because you’re always going to lose, but it’s really an exponential increase in query performance”.

Adidas: Our slogan is ‘All In’. We went all in, and I think it was the right decision. We have made BW much simpler, lower cost, and faster to implement business requests.


Next, off to the Global Communications center for an Executive Q&A that had some great quote from Vishal and others (unfortunately, I do not think a recording is available, although you can watch a Q&A with SAP’s co-CEOs)

In particular, in response to a question about the big areas of opportunity, Vishal mentioned healthcare:“we’re still in a dark age of medicine where we see a doctor just once a year. We see a huge opportunity for personalized healthcare, and we believe we’re processing genomic data >400x faster than the alternatives.

Jim Snabe added that financial services has been fastest growing area for SAP three years in a row, and with the ongoing massive changes in the industry, he believes there’s a big opportunity for SAP technology to help.


In the next session I attended, Ken DeGennaro, VP NBA Information Technology explained why his organization had chosen SAP HANA over other alternatives. The goal of the project was to use “dark data” – currently unused statistics on every game since the 1960s – to create an immersive statistical experience for fans, driving deeper engagement with an easy to navigate interface, available from any device.

The NBA needed technology that was scalable and highly available, able to accept data from multiple sources, able to provide continued performance during peak usage teams (e.g. during championship finals), and capable of supporting the growth plans in the future. After looking at various solutions, including NoSQL and Microsoft Analysis services, the team found that only SAP HANA was able to support their needs.


Next I interviewed Craig Bassin, CEO of EasyAsk, one of more than 400 different startups that have chosen SAP HANA as part of their platform. EasyAsk was chosen by Gartner as one of the “Cool Vendors” in the Analytics and Business Intelligence space in 2012. The Massachusetts startup is using SAP HANA to allow enterprise customers to ask questions about ERP data verbally, in plain language, and get an immediate answer.


I hope to have time to actually post the interview soon!

And that was it for day two…