I’ve had quite a few HANA Moments since beginning to work with the product in late 2011, some bigger than others, but all very important. For this fairly short engagement of just nine weeks, we were focused around Special Purpose Ledger data coming out of ECC. The customer was focused on a few key metrics they use to drive their profitability, with sales, margin, and promotional mix being the three largest. The customer had some reporting capabilities built around these metrics already in place in BW but they were terribly slow, highly aggregated, and not real time.
The Customer Need:
· One source of truth on sales, promotional mix, margin, and overall profitability
· Analytics supporting all levels of the company, executive, store manager, product manager
· Ad hoc analysis of real time data
· Understanding of how product mix and promotions impact profitability
A Big Roadblock Threatens Success:
The first two main deliverables were accomplished fairly quickly, things were moving along great, and then we ran into a sticking point that threatened the overall satisfaction of the customer. Exception Aggregation is a BW Functionality that is only possible in replicating using BW on HANA or by employing the use of a Universe and Web Intelligence. The fact that this was an Agile Data Mart scenario and not BW on HANA coupled with the fact that the customer was only using Business Objects Explorer and Analysis for Office made this impossible and caused a fair amount of tension. After three weeks of attempting to design a solution to meet this need at the customer’s request they pulled the plug.
In the End the Power of HANA Prevails:
On my last day, about an hour before I was set to head to the airport, still feeling like the customer was only partly happy with our results, the customers’ business sponsor came in our conference room. He sat down with a big smile on his face and said that he had just gone through a demo with their business representatives and it went phenomenally well and that everyone was extremely excited. He decided that he would show the technical team the demo he had just given. This was the start of a great hour.
The Business Impact:
He brought up a report he had built in Analysis for Office. No charts or graphs, just rows of data in an excel spreadsheet. You could tell he was excited. We started high level, company codes, which countries were more profitable for them than others, and finally, the last addition he made to the report was at an individual purchase order level. In about 5-10 minutes he had gone from a worldwide view of the business, down to an hourly view of each purchase order for each product at an individual store, explaining along the way what he was looking at. When the report refreshed in a second or two on this final level of granularity he stopped and looked at us, and said something to the effect of, do you realize the power of this, we are now looking at an hourly snapshot of every product we sold today, do you know what we can do with this type of analytical capability?!? For the final few minutes that I was in the room listening to him he was talking to the technical team about the limitless possibilities of having a reporting system that was built in real-time, that had the ability to go from the highest perspective of the business to the lowest, and how once they fully adjusted to having a tool this powerful how it would help them to craft their business processes around it, helping them to Run Like Never Before.
Think about that last statement, now, because of the power of HANA, instead of creating a report to track progress on a business process, the report is driving the creation of the business process itself as a result of analytical capabilities that were not possible before SAP HANA.