Big Data: How Could it Improve Decision Making Within Your Company?

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In July 2017, we ran an event in conjunction with itelligence UK at their offices in London where we looked at the evolution of Big Data. During the day’s events, the itelligence team spoke, demonstrated and explored how the intersection between SAP applications, analytics and Big Data analytics can help to transform decision making within your company.

itelligence is a company that helps businesses achieve goals quicker through appropriate use of SAP technologies. Their methods, intellectual property and methodologies help companies, big and small, to meet challenges head-on with all the SAP tools they need to transform their business.

During our Big Data event, we were able to deliver scenarios that can be used to drive tangible business opportunity. We also had labs for users to perform against a Live HANA system. This included modelling and accessing large datasets, real-time data loads from Twitter and finally, text analysis to extract entities and sentiment from a social media stream.

Big Data and What it Means

As technology is changing and business thinking is evolving, there is a real necessity to stay ahead of the curve and look beyond data held within SAP Applications to deliver breakthrough insight. This means being proactive rather than reactive to certain changes in the market, as well as thinking about future challenges alongside what is happening in the present to become more agile and responsive.

“If data is fuel in a digital world then analytics is the engine,” said itelligence in their talk. And this is perfectly true when you think about it. In fact, in a recent study from Oxford Economics, 75% of executives in leading organisations agreed that: “decisions can be mapped directly to company strategies”; 78% said: “decisions are data driven”; 62% said: “decisions are made in real time”; and 63% said: "decision making is distributed across the organisation.” As we can see, data has an impact on decisions in different ways across businesses.

So what is Big Data? Well, explained simply at the event, “Big Data is a blanket term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.” So, is Big Data new Business Intelligence? According to itelligence, the answer is no. Big Data typically uses inductive statistics and concepts on large unstructured data sets to reveal relationships, dependencies and perform predictions of outcomes and behaviours. Whereas Business Intelligence uses data with high information density to measure things or detect trends.

Big data can in fact transform how decision makers actually view business problems overall and shape decisions that concern strategy. This then allows them to rely upon objective data. If your business has good data, the ability to analyse it efficiently and derive valuable insight, then preventing risk will be much easier; as well as the ability to build a competitive edge.

Market environments are also evolving, which means that companies have to adapt faster and make decisions in real-time. Because of this, companies will, at some point, have to:

  • Decide faster
  • React quicker - Be a lot more flexible and react earlier than you may have in the past
  • Act - not only for what is happening currently within your business, but also being a lot more predictive
  • Make bullet proof decisions
  • Make decisions on high quality data
  • Decide collaboratively
  • Take decisions outside the box

The Road to Better Decision Making

Taking a step by step approach is key here, so breaking your goals and intended outcomes down into manageable chunks can help you to make decisions a lot better than in the past.

First of all, you must identify business goals before then identifying a relevant database; you must also become big data savvy, so do as much reading as you can; ensure that you really understand your data before making any business-changing decisions on it. Then take the following steps to lead you to the results that you desire:

  1. Develop a strategy and methods that deliver fast results
  2. Enable cooperation between business and IT
  3. Build up a powerful and competent team
  4. Identify appropriate big data technologies and tools
  5. Start small
  6. Start a pilot project - test the waters before you get carried away
  7. Learn from achieved results
  8. Entrench a method to begin measuring your success - and to benchmark future efforts

You must remember that time is money, but of course you already know that. Keep in mind that big data analytics can provide you with the real-time insights that you require to keep your business running ahead of time. If you can harvest, analyse and understand this data quickly, then you can most certainly gain better value in the long run.

The Evolution of Business Intelligence and Data Provision in SAP

So how is Business Intelligence and data provision changing in SAP? Business Intelligence and Big Data are evolving, yes. And the need to convert data into decisions is paramount; the role of Business Intelligence and analytics is changing rapidly. Remember that most business problems are analytics problems. Once companies can effectively segment and analyse the abundance of quality information they have that’s being stored on their servers, they can then begin to streamline their activities to what the data and current understanding tells them their customers actually want.

What about SAP strategy? We know that the historic portfolio and choice of technologies is wide and complex and that HANA and analytics are fundamental to the SAP roadmap. We’re also seeing functionality evolving and that SAP innovations, including analytics will be Cloud first. So how can we take this information to start delivering success? Try out the following:

  • Be honest about your current maturity levels
  • Align your analytics and Business Applications Roadmaps
  • Use the 5 habits of Successful BI; Drivers for insight, Deliver value quickly, engage with the business, develop capability and reduce TCO

The main key takeaway overall here? It’s to always ensure that you “improve the performance of your organisation by bridging the gap between data and decisions.” Still need guidance on how you can harness your data to make the best business decisions? With our membership you can gain access to exclusive events and webinars, just like this one. Contact us on 01642 309930 to find out more. Alternatively, you can drop us a few lines on support@sapusers.org and we will come back to you.

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