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  Today,  it's all about the data and using it to make strategic, informed decisions. Data is everywhere, in various forms, and it's all growing and changing. Organizations are looking to increase their speed and agility while tapping into deep data analytics insights. However, many data analysts have to deal with legacy tools and approaches that can't handle these evolving needs.

The challenges customers face using outdated tools to manage their data, or not having the right analytics tool, can cause roadblocks such as data deluge, lack of visibility, manual processes, and no unity all leading to slower insights and decision making.

Let’s look at how five customers addressed these challenges.

Challenge: Slower Insights

While insights from data analytics can help with strategic business decisions, many organizations face the challenge of dealing with legacy analytic approaches and processes. There's only so much spreadsheets can do because they can’t support advanced data analytics.

To augment agility, organizations need data insights in real time. BallanceAgri-Nutrients, an agricultural company, needed to enhance the availability of customer data to make decisions more quickly. With SAP S/4HANA and SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions at the center of their innovation, Ballance created real-time dashboards for full visibility into data and improved decision making, as well as improving their customer’s experience across all touch points throughout the business.

Ballance accelerated sales reporting from 2 hours to 20 minutes, in some cases turning years of data into insights in less than 1 second, an 83% reduction in time required to create the reports. Real-time dashboards helped translate into substantiated insights to better define customer’s needs, enhanced customer engagement through personalized views, increased sales productivity, and connected Ballance’s customer experience systems to digital core for online and mobile access.

“The journey we are on will allow us to connect our employees, suppliers, customers, and networks to our digital core. With SAP S/4HANA at the center, we are designing and building solutions that are mobile, intuitive, robust, and valuable, enabling our customers to be more autonomous and productive and to easily do business with us.”

  • David Scullin, CIO at Ballance Agri-Nutrients

Teams can now enable employees, suppliers, and customers to be more autonomous, productive, and do business with more ease.

Challenge: The Data Deluge

  Organizations are looking to tap into Big Data but there's not only the obstacle of sheer size, but often data is coming from disparate sources. Cisco, for example, deals with a massive amount of data that is often distributed across multiple systems, regions, and business units.

Cisco tapped into SAP HANA and SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics to help transform their sales processes. They enabled non-specialists to use self-service tools to try their own predictive analytical models. Sales no longer had to rely on IT staff to configure analytical frameworks, which sped up the analytics cycle and improvements in sales productivity. Social selling is now possible with the combined knowledge and experience driving more informed sales processes across regions and teams. Models created in SAP HANA can be done on demand, instead of 2-3 days.

“We get our sales people to use data to optimize their pipelines, getting from away from ‘gut feel’ and into real data-driven decision making about which of their hundreds of opportunities are viable.”

  • “Larry Goryachkovskiy, Worldwide Sales at Cisco

Teams can now manage and meet their aggressive targets by having access to critical data analysis, much faster.

Challenge: Lack of Visibility & Manual Processes

Spreadsheets are great, but they're not made for today's data analytics needs. Reporting processes were error-prone, running reports took longer, and aggregation of multiple systems was a challenge. There needed to be visibility on all the different analysis across the business and geographical locations.

  These were some of the challenges Mead Johnson, a pediatric nutrition company, faced when running their financial reports. To meet the demands of their company, they looked for a solution to solve these challenges to reduce the complexity of their environment without interrupting their end users.

Mead Johnson looked at SAP BW/4HANA and SAP Business Planning and Consolidation to help solve their challenges. Now they are able to produce accurate financial reporting for board meetings helping make the process lessdisruptive and bring reliability to their reports. they sped up their month end close by 70% with improved accurancy and confidence and reduced IT support by 25% with self-service reporting. Their technical infrastructure landscape saw reduction in complexity; from 110 to 74 servers all the way to reducing the amount of total data storage from 115 TB to 68 TB, making it more manageable for IT.

“I’m very energized by the fact that this will allow our function to spend more time on analysis versus just pulling data!”

Now senior management has a clearer view of the business, while making the end user’s job easier.

Challenge: Lack of Unity

This lack of unifying analytics is not limited to the private, corporate sector. The U.S. Army was faced with the obstacle of disparate infrastructure with multiple systems. Decisions, based on outdated information, could impact missions and deployments. On top of that, security risks increased when deployed soldiers needed to connect to slow systems over low bandwidth communications in the field.

The U.S. Army, using SAP HANA, improved transactional performance up to 135X faster with real-time unified data.

To enable Army staff to manage information and knowledge, they use SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence for dashboards and visualizations of data. This allows commanders to create, maintain understanding, and make decisions supporting unified land operations. These dashboards help balance bottom-up and top-down understanding, enabling adaptive learning organizations, and informing warfighting operations to execute mission orders.

Deployed soldiers are now able to securely and effectively provide near-real time updates on supplies and logistics over low bandwidth connections to inform command decisions.

“Gaining access to “near-real time” data is the most significate transformational activity in the history of Logistics Information Systems (LIS). To have a way to finally gain access to Sustainment data, near-real time, will be a “Game Changer” that enables Sustainers to assess situations and inform Warfighters, with timely vital information, to execute mission orders.”

  • Harold Whittington, Deputy Director, Enterprise Systems Directorate (ESD) at CASCOM

Commanders and units can now visualize decisions informed by this near-real time data, as well as ones that are optimized by a central, unified view of operations, instead of requiring the access and querying of multiple, disparate systems.

Common Thread for SAP Customers: SAP HANA Innovation 2017 Awards

What do these 5 analytics customers have in common, besides thinking outside the box and innovating unique solutions? They're all winners or honorable mentions from the SAP HANA Innovation 2017 Awards.

Each one of these customers used the power of SAP Analytics solutions to transform their business. These SAP customers overcame challenges and pushed their industry forward with creative solutions

Looking for more innovativeinsights from these organizations and others?  are? Be sure to download the free SAP HANA Innovation Awards 2017 analytics ebook!

To learn more about the SAP HANA Innovation Award, I encourage you to check out these related resources: