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In the world of mobile phones, you may think that everything has already been invented. Sleek designs, larger screens, 16 megapixel cameras or the ability to use your personal phone as a TV. Sure, we will see more innovations coming because these personal devices offer so much to our daily lives that being without them just feels uncomfortable…. We cannot function without them. Neither in business and nor in personal life.

Amazon innovates again

Amazon * recently launched its new mobile device called Fire. We all know that Amazon has already shaken up the retail industry. Their way of suggesting products we would “maybe “ like since other people bought the same products as you did, they pioneered personal recommendations based on prior buying behavior and have really mastered that to the nth degree (and it works, I have to admit) plus are pioneering the supply chain with attractive delivery models. Drone delivery ? Well at least the idea makes you think about what the future looks like. And pushing peoples’ thought process to a new level is key when it comes to innovation.

But what was worth discussing in the Amazon’s Fire release? Why are we so excited about it ? Of course this is Amazon’s first foray into the smartphone category. They already stirred up the e-reader market with the Kindle, and are now entering an already crowded market with strong players such as Apple, Samsung, HTC and new lower costs, entrants.  Even some retail chains have started offering their own branded devices. On top of this challenge, Amazon offers its smartphone with its own operating system, which may be quite a bet in a market dominated by IOS and Android. Even windows phone is fighting an uphill battle for space. But the reality is that Amazon understands consumers, and focusses on a content-first approach. This has an impact on the users behavior. The Fire, like the Kindle, extends the storefront of Amazons digital products to bring an experience that is convenient to you. Personal, direct, easy to act on. Consumers love that.

But that is not all. The Fire offers the opportunity to predict the future. That’s right. Your device will predict what type of video or music you want to hear next. Happily called the ASAP feature (as in all the ASAP mails you usually get…. The ones that need your attention immediately or at least pretty quickly), it predicts and preloads the piece of video you want to see next so you can watch it next time you’re feeling bored, waiting in queue for something or just going some place by car in the passenger seat. The idea being (that is what I predict) that there will be some advertisement somehow that will make you buy something instantly, out of emotion which is exactly the type of shopping Amazon benefits from.

Predicting the future ? How does that work ?

Now of course the phone does not predict anything at all. Although, in the coming future, smartphones will become so powerful that they will be able to predict based on what they see, hear, usage, or how they are handled. Today’s technology concept behind that predictive capability of the phone is based on the combination of data from different data sources and the processing of these vast amounts of data (device data, click data, profile data etc…) on a fast and intelligent platform that produces outcomes that lead to new business insights. 

The key is that it relates big data – defined in this context as as all the possible relevant data gathered, including vast amounts of structured and unstructured data - to the ability to predict and influence individual behavior of consumers directly to content they want to consume or feel is important for them. And for the consumer it feels extremely comfortable as it is packed in a device they favor every day. Being able to predict consumer behavior, or influence buyers’ behavior, is a great use case of Big Data and the power of predictive analytics. And it is being deployed by big names in the industry.

Admittedly, Amazon always has led the way in using innovative predictive and behavioral analysis techniques to improve the propensity to buy for consumers. Although the techniques may be complex, the idea and consumer experience always strikes me as logical and amazingly simple.

Other industries as well are using the power of predictive analytics to drive a new set of business insights and better customer strategies. For example we helped a manufacturer of building products achieve significant reduction in warranty costs by using predictive analytics. Predicting which components will fail most likely and understanding what drives this, allowed this customer to better estimate and with that lower the need for excess spare part stock and offer better service at the same time. Another example was a co-innovation project we started with a passenger cruise-line company that achieved significant increases in spending by its passengers during their onboard stay. Combining consumer profile data, spending patterns and actual POS data this customer was able to give its passengers offers that perfectly fitted their expectations and influenced their spending patterns at the right moment at the right place.

Let’s get started

Do you think BigData is important to you ? Then think of how you want to get started with BigData. At SAP Services, we believe that it helps to start a Big Data project from the beginning in the right way. Starting at discovering the business drivers and developing a BigData concept around that. 

An interesting aspect of this and many other cases that we have seen was that successful customers of BigData used innovative ways of running their projects too. DesignThinking for example was used to develop really innovative cases and not just optimizations, communication with business users was cited as an important reason for success and having a vision and strategy around the deployment of BigData were amongst the most deployed elements of these exciting real-life customer cases.

Here at SAP Analytics & BIG Data services, we have services available for you to get that process started and be successful. So if you are thinking about or even working on a BigData project, it is something worthwhile doing right now. Go ahead and visit

Author bio: Edwin Van Geel is a key member of the Global Analytics& Big Data Field Services team and global practice lead for Enterprise Performance Management Services. Edwin contributes regularly on thought leadership topics and content in Finance, Analytics, Big Data and Innovation for Business.

* The specifics on Amazon and Amazon Fire are retrieved from public news sources and are not related to the use of SAP Software or Services