Making Business Intelligence as Easy as Search

Andreas Schmitz

Lothar Burow likes simplicity. As the head of business intelligence at the Bayer Group, he wants every employee – not just the controlling experts – to be able to perform their own analyses. And this makes him part of a growing trend.

Really, it should work as easily as a mobile search function for a restaurant: You install the app – like one from Yelp – on your smartphone, activate geolocation services, and then, at the mere tap of a finger, you get the Italian, Greek, and Thai restaurants around the corner displayed with ratings.

If Lothar Burow (60) has his way, it won’t be long before business intelligence in companies – that is, the detailed analysis of business performance and results – works in a similar way. “Let’s take a look at the global financial crisis of 2009,” says the head of business intelligence at the Bayer Group, headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany. “Then, it was important to get information as fast as possible about how demand was developing in the regions.” And also about any possible signs of economic recovery and, for example, when it might be possible to end reduced working hours at the plants, he adds.

How to improve usability?

However, in Burow’s opinion, the commonly available front-end tools did not provide what was needed. Burow, a physicist who has been working in the business intelligence field for more than 15 years, more often than not encountered “a dry world of numbers and poor usability.”

So what should be done?


“Of course,” says Lothar Burow, head of business intelligence at Bayer, “iOS improved usability, but it works on PCs, too.”

Business intelligence requirements

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson recently outlined some important business intelligence trends in his blog. Three of them are: the best tool for each job instead of IT standards, do-it-yourself rather than get it delivered, and mobility as the BI mantra.

Everyone should be in a position to understand the pie charts and bar graphs on the screen and to create them themselves. The tool itself – be it software like SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence software and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, or tools from competitors Tableau Software or MicroStrategy – hardly matters to Burow. “Good usability, high performance, and availability,” are for him the three magic specifications for business intelligence at the Bayer Group. “It’s important for the complexity to disappear into the background,” he says.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean aiming to be an Apple clone. “Of course,” says Burow, “iOS improved usability, but it works on PCs, too.”

Business intelligence solution

Viewed in this light, iOS and its outstanding usability elevated tablets to the measure of all things, but for Burow the mobile connection is only the last step in the development. Beginning with the back end, which is mainly dominated by SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Burow takes an approach that, above all, leaves options open with regard to the front-end tool. Even when he was responsible for BI only in the area of material science, a number of different tools were in use until, finally, the custom development roi (PE) came into being. It was developed on the Flex platform and initially for PCs only. Burow invariably found that generating a report was too much work. “You had to go through an endless Customizing tree before you eventually got a report out of it,” he says, “not to mention drag-and-drop functionalities.”

In 2007, Bayer’s controlling department finally started scouring the market for a tool that could execute a report without help from the IT division. WebFOCUS from the New York-based company Information Builders was the name of the solution they found. As far as the functionalities were concerned, it was “a dream,” but more JavaScript code was required than expected, so the increasing costs finally meant that continuing BI on this basis was not possible. “As a result, we didn’t look at any more tools, but developed our own,” Burow says.

Not the lowest common denominator, but rather specific needs – especially concerning usability – were finally the reason for preferring the homegrown solution.

BI tip

Business intelligence consultancy BI Scorecard, based in Sparta, New Jersey, believes that other companies will also take such a path in the future. If the functionalities of the major providers are not sufficient in terms of suitable dashboards, decision-makers will mix different tools and integrate them into an individual BI landscape.

The competition will become increasingly tough, as even large IT companies will have to get used to keeping up with small specialist enterprises and software designers. That’s why Bayer’s BI man Burow stresses the importance of integration capabilities for his environment. “No one can guarantee that our custom development will still be the best solution for us in a year’s time,” he says. The cards will be reshuffled again and decisions will be made according to new criteria.

Today, however, Bayer is planning to roll out its BI solution throughout the group, before preparing it for iPads, Android tablets, and mobile devices based on Windows 8. Maybe then the Bayer employees will have the “Yelp BI” experience that Burow wants for the future.


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Mobile Finance: Why Now And Key Challenges

Lindsey Nelson

Recently, the SAP Mobility team created an iGuide all about the power of mobile finance, how you can get your own off the ground and running to change the game, as well as how to measure success. This is part 1 of a 2 part series providing you an overview of the iGuide.

You’re a CFO at an enterprise, doesn’t matter the size, and you hear this fact:

According to IDC, there will be 1.3 million mobile workers by 2015

Now I’m just a curator/writer for one of the best corporate blogs out there (shameless plug), but I would make a safe guess that you don’t want to be the leader of the department left out of that number.

Why now for mobile finance?

mobile financeMobile finance applications are changing finance for the better and for all levels of employees. Why? Because mobile apps allow teams, not only finance, to be strategic, operational, and collaborative.

For the executive team, they have real-time access to their performance. Whether it’s performance metrics or opportunities they can capitalize on.

For your department managers, they can forecast, filter, and approve. Forecast by keeping an eye on everyone’s budgets and internal spending. Filter the industry news and relevant financial reports all from their tablet.  Approve expense reports and payments, no longer requiring these typically busy individuals to be strapped to their desks all day.

For employees they now have convenience to information and submitting expense reports. Convenience to corporate information like a customer’s financial transactions makes their job nice. Giving them the ability to submit T&E while waiting in the airport makes them happy. So, in turn you should be in full support of providing T&E apps to them. Why? Because happy employees are productive employees.

Why Mobile Finance Is the Best Path

It’s no longer a “nice to have”, it has become a cog in the machine critical to success. Not only does it improve collaboration, mobile finance empowers the organization in four ways:


  • Compliance Risks
  • Approvals
  • Operational alerts

Existing Content Made Mobile

  • Dashboards & Reports
  • Explorable Data Sets

Next-Gen Mobile Analytics

  • “Why”, “when”, and “what if” knowledge
  • Flexible, ad hoc analysis

Prebuilt Apps

  • Delivered out of the box and ready to use

Although it is the way to go, there are a few challenges you may encounter.

The Challenges in Mobile Finance

Before you get too excited, you should know there are a few challenges with taking your finance department from the cube to the device. So prior to diving into the mobile transformation, guide your team through an in-depth evaluation to determine which high priority functions are a must on a mobile device.

Security is a huge concern, but being taken very seriously by those building the platforms. In order to combat these challenges, a few best practices like encryption, access limitations, authentication, and so forth can really make a difference. Another way would be to buy a mobile device management system to help you with the data monitoring. However, as always my advice is to do your homework before buying.

Stay tuned for part two, Mobile Finance, Getting It Off the Ground and How to Measure Success.

Click here to read the full iGuide for deeper insights and a look at how mobile finance is impacting the enterprise.


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Move From Branded Content To A Content Brand

Michael Brenner

Red Bull as Content BrandOur most recent Future of Marketing interview explained Nick Kellet’s suggestion that we focus more on our Customer’s Brand than on our own.

Previous interviews covered Marketing CreativityBig DataBig TestingCustomer ExperienceThought Leadership, creating a Content Culture, the roles of Content and Technology, the Future of Search, the Science of Marketing, the rise of Content Brands and we asked whether the customer or the Content is King.

Today’s interview is with Andrew Davis (@tpldrew), the Author of “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships”. You can also find more about Drew at and on Google+.

What do you see happening in Content Marketing today? How is it changing?

As I’ve watched digital content evolve over the last decade three monumental shifts have occurred that will shape the way we create, distribute, and promote content in the future.

Quality over quantity

First, the most successful content creators are focusing on delivering quality content over a high quantity of content. We all live in a world where we’re overwhelmed by the amount of information available to consume. Smart content marketers are cutting through the clutter by creating high-quality content that builds a valuable repeat audience (think like Gary Vaynerchuk and his Wine Library TV.) Cut through the clutter and create content people actually want to build a relationship with.

The power of subscribe

Second, we all have the ability to garner, maintain and grow an audience for the content we create. In the past, magazine publishers, television networks, newspapers and radio stations owned “subscribers.” Today, your fans on Facebook, your followers on Twitter and your subscribers on YouTube or iTunes are a valuable audience. Hell, even your e-mail database is a content subscription opportunity. Smart content creators will start to focus on building highly-valuable subscription-based audiences, instead of just looking for passing readers, listeners or watchers.

Content as an asset instead of an expense

Finally, brands are creating content designed to actually drive revenue, instead of thinking of content as a marketing expense itself. In fact, I heard earlier this year that Red Bull will generate more income from its entertainment properties this year than from selling energy drinks! Other brands are creating content so valuable that consumers are purchasing their content as books on Amazon. The more valuable your content is, the more likely you can transition from seeing your content as a marketing expense to an actual intellectual asset.

What about the longer-term? Do you have a provocative prediction on the future of marketing?

Content Brands instead of Branded Content

I believe that there’s a big difference between treating your content as a marketing asset and treating it like a product. In the future more and more marketers will focus on creating content as brands themselves. Brands that increase demand for the products they sell. Here’s a quick anecdote:

Selling powdered milk…

Defiance, a powdered milk company, was having a really hard time penetrating a crowded market against 300 other brands. They’d tried advertising, but it didn’t seem to sell more dried milk.

The advertisements did spark thousands of consumer inquiries on how to take care of a newborn baby. Instead of ignoring those inquiries, the CEO Joe Nathan hired Nurse Kennedy to answer every consumer inquiry on behalf of the company.

Word got out that Defiance would answer any infant health-related question, and before they knew it, Nurse Kennedy’s staff of 11 nurses answered hundreds of questions a day. They also started selling more and more powdered milk.

That’s when Defiance got smart. They published a book (treating their content like a product) for new mothers that answered every single question they’d been asked. (Only one question was related to powdered milk, by the way.) They scaled their internal knowledge and the people who powered their brand by turning it into a book – a content brand. Powdered milk sales skyrocketed and they distributed millions of copies of their baby book.

That company went on to become Glaxo and that book was first published in 1908. That’s right, Glaxo Smith Kline, the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world (worth more than $73 billion today), owes its century-long success to Nurse Kennedy and the Baby Book.

Treat your content like a product and you’ll cut through information overload, build a valuable audience and create quality content that drives demand for whatever you sell.

Tell us about yourself

Drew Davis on Content BrandsAs a child actor I wanted to be the next Kirk Cameron. It turns out, I’m not a great actor. Instead, I focused on working behind the scenes, producing, writing and managing everything from local television programming to the Today Show. In the late 1990’s I landed my dream job at the Jim Henson Company in New York working on movies such as Muppets From Space and iconic television programming like Sesame Street.

It’s at the Jim Henson company where I realized how powerful content inspired people to buy stuff. The merchandising and licensing teams at The Jim Henson Company drove millions and millions of dollars in revenue by leveraging the success of the content, characters, and brands they’d created for products ranging from books to lunch boxes (and everything in between.)

In 2001, I co-founded Tippingpoint Labs with Jim Cosco (a television producer himself,) and we built a content marketing firm focused on creating valuable content that drives demand for whatever it is you sell. Last year, I sold Tippingpoint Labs, wrote a book called Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships, and bought a bigger boat.

Today, I travel the world preaching the power of content marketing, teaching marketers to focus on quality over quantity, and helping others embrace the lessons I’ve learned over the last twenty years.


Now it’s your turn: Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

The post Move From Branded Content To A Content Brand appeared first on B2B Marketing Insider.


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Brite Conference 2013: Brands, Innovation, Technology – Pt 2

Luisa Ruppert

I recently had the pleasure of attending Columbia Business School’s Brite Conference around Brands, Innovation, and Technology with representatives of the school as well as renowned brands such as Intel, Vimeo, PepsiCo, SAP and many more.

Day Two  Agenda 

After a first day of lots of valuable insights the second day started. Unlike the first day where the only location was the Alfred Lerner Hall auditorium this day we were ‘forced’ to choose between talks and break-out to different rooms. Hence I was not able to attend all the talks in person but I tried my best to gather all the information from other attendees and online. 

The Power of Habit:
How Target knows what its customers want before they do

Book-author and award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg told us stories about Target and Starbucks, and how we are all steered through life as slaves of our habits. Notably 40-45% of daily activities are based on habits, with neurological activity tapering down during habitual routine.

Charles explained the three parts of the habit loop: Cue, routine/behavior and reward. He went on with showing us the Stanford Marshmallow experiment on behavior of four-year olds. It turned out that the kids that had the greatest willpower were the most successful later in life.

Charles advice: “Willpower is what correlates best to future success. So turn it into a habit”. Starbucks strengthened employees’ willpower habits to improve performance via their Latte Method: Listen, acknowledge, take action, thank the customer, and explain why the problem occurred. The coffee chain suffered greatly from an angry customer video gone viral. After this experience Starbucks started creating a unique training for new employees to prevent this from ever happening again. The coffee brand profits from all their loyal customers’ every day habit to get their Starbucks fix and they have to keep them happy.

Next Charles told us the story about Target: Over the years Target had collected vast amounts of data about their customers; whenever possible it had assigned a unique customer ID to every shopper. Through predictive analytics they thought they could predict when a female customer is expecting and started sending them special offers and coupons for baby related products.

Charles went on telling us about an upset father who had called the store and asked why his 18-year old daughter was receiving coupons for diapers and such. After the store had apologized they received a follow-up call from an apologetic father who broke the news that his daughter was in fact carrying a child.

Target has learned from this that they had to be more careful with suggesting certain products, which led them into a more ‘sneaky’ approach: They added baby and pregnancy related vouchers next to other coupons so that they seemed more random, and it worked. Target’s predictive analytics has resulted in huge sales uptick in their ‘Baby and Mom’ category. Read more about it in the New York Times and the Forbes article.

Branded Content and Online Video: Opportunities and Obstacles

Jonathan Knee with Evercore Partners moderated the panel with Kerry Trainor, CEO of Vimeo, John Montgomery with GroupM Interaction who were joined by Michael Keriakos of Everyday Health and Larry Aidem, CEO of IconicTV to talk to us about branded content and online videos.

“The partners in crime are the most important asset and
guarantee for success or failure.”

They started off with showing us the Vimeo and Old Spice Muscle Music video which garnered 20 years worth of brand engagement from views, impressions, time spent, clips shared; One great example of a productive brand partnership. The next they showed us was the cooperation between three DJs, A-Trak, Skrillex and Diplo, and Iconic TV in hopes of reigniting a bit of music television’s past. The electronica inspired branded content YouTube channel is called “Potato Will Eat You” and launched February 2013.

Iconic TV president and founder Larry emphasized that his company could not be as successful would it not be for Google and YouTube. The video platform even made it possible for Everyday Health’s YouTube born show ‘Recipe Rehab’ to be the first one to move to a national TV network, namely ABC. Read the WSJ article here. Advice from the experts: Success recipe for branded videos is the 80/20 rule: 80% influenced by the consumer and 20% by the brand.

The Coo of GroupM Interactive, John Montgomery, showed us a great best practice for this principle: Degree Men deodorant’s “Masters of Movement” video. The film of a professional parachutist snowboarder includes great advice for marketers: “Stop thinking, stop preparing, just go!” Sometimes we all need to be reminded of that, says John. The next topic was measurement of online videos. At the moment the most obvious would be the numbers of views and comments and sharing. Vimeo’s CEO admitted that Internet video is too fragmented for proper measurement but has great opportunity through leveraging data analytics tools like Sprinklr.

Anticipating and Navigating the Convergence of Digital Marketing

In one of the other rooms Brennan Carlson, VP of Corporate Strategy with Lyris Inc. was talking about the importance that today’s digital marketer has to be continuously evolving. “Failure of most marketing automation software is the assumption that the sales funnel is linear”, says Brennan to underline the significance of constant progress. Also given new technologies, anything can be a messaging channel and should be leverages as such.

 The End of Competitive Advantage and the Innovation Imperative

Rita McGrath, author of ‘Discovery-Driven Growth’ and associate professor of the business school talked about innovation and how disruption continues to catch smart people by surprise. She describes today’s businesses: “There is a new idea, it launches, it’s being worked on and then it gets disrupted by the next innovative idea.” She suggests we need to think of differentiation and competitive advantage, as being transient and that only few companies understand how to build innovation strategies and processes. Her advice is when making decisions based on assumptions to track those assumptions over time and create a habit out of it.

Strategic assumptions made for uncertainty are half forgotten six weeks later, that’s why documentation is essential. She was referring specifically to the tendency of companies to allow themselves to be blindsided by disruption because they have such heavy investments in their legacy businesses. Companies need to think more like venture capitalists with investments with options: Expect a certain rate of failure, with high upside. “You can afford a lot of failing if it’s cheap.” Read more here and also check out her working paper about: “Is Your Business Biased Against Innovation?”.

Global Brands, Unconventional Marketing Investments

Mike O’Toole, President of PJA Advertising + Marketing was leading the discussion about unconventional marketing investments to create brand experiences with Shiv Singh, Global Head of Digital of PepsiCo and David Haroldsen, Creative Director of Intel’s Creators Project. It is essential to integrate branding across multiple media; potential combination is video plus social. Intel had difficulty connecting with non-tech individuals, especially young people. Partnering with Vice Media was a huge risk for Intel but they took to connect with the youth launching the Creators Project bridging art and technology, David explains.

PepsiCo took a similar approach of working with young startups. Shiv clarifies: “Those with whom you partner at an early stage are more likely to become staunch advocates of your brand as they grow.” Further he describes the experience of working with startups like Foursquare: “It was like being a venture capitalist without the checkbook” – a huge risk for PepsiCo. The company invests 10% of their digital media budget in risking opportunities. The notion of startup and digital culture is not separate from marketing; it builds brand and credibility with the consumers. Not only did Pepsi engage with Foursquare, Bluefin Labs (Social TV Analytics) and other startups early on but they maintain an ongoing relationship through maturation and monetization. But to drive innovative ventures the management has to be convinced through measurement, even for unconventional and guerilla campaigns.

It is all about data and research and that is why Pepsi teamed up with Nielson to measure conversations that happened around a live-streamed Twitter concert. Most important is to always be authentic and connect with your audience at a deep level to grow a brand. Intel’s Haroldsen: “The power of authenticity is so strong, especially with youth.” Collaboration with startups gives immense reach to communities and impact corporate culture. The panel closed with Shiv’s comment about the importance of partnerships: “We need more strategic relationships with venture capitalist that’s how we influence bigger business decisions.”

Market Simulation Modeling: Attributing the Value of Every Touchpoint to ROI, Sales, and Brand Equity 

At the same time Greg Silverman, CEO and founder of Concentric ABM told the attendees about agent-based modeling. He reminded everyone that it is time for marketing professionals to reframe the conversation. Marketing is not only a cost center it is most and for all a growth driver – a profit center.  He advised to use both judgment and stats together to create predictive models. The future of marketing lies in peer-to-peer. Individuals, not aggregates. It does not matter if you are a B2B or B2C business; in the end we are all in a P2P (peer-to-peer) business: Humans selling to other humans. Read more here.

Brands Need to Be Human, Marketing Needs to Run Like a Business

SAP’s very own Jean Brandolini-Lamb, Vice President of Global Branding, and Madhur Aggarwal of the Office of the CMO talked about branding, measuring, and the human element bridging the theory and practice of branding at SAP. It started with some background on the German business software company: It is not only the big German ERP cooperation but only 1/3rd of revenue comes from ERP alone and only 30% of employees are based in Germany. Fast fact: SAP’s customers produce over 70% of the world’s beer and chocolate. In the process of changing its image and perception to a more friendly and open company their messaging approach is now: CIAO – Clear Insightful Approachable Optimistic. Conscious visual rebranding to be more human from SAP is part of their strategy leading to one billion-customer goal by 2015.

The human element became core of their strategy: Revised blue of the logo, font, images, and introduction of illustrations and infographics. Five pillars marked the transformation of the brand: Simplify and humanize the brand, invest in people, develop pull marketing and strengthen ties to businesses.

SAP also uses predictive analytics to their advantage as they became official NFL cloud software sponsor and developed the analytics dashboard for One achievement of their re-branding was reaching number 25 among Interbrand’s Best Global Brands. It is a long way to go but SAP is prepared to work hard to be the best-run business that helps other businesses run like never before.

The Athena Doctrine: How Women (And the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future

The last talk of the day and conference was John Gerzema, author of the Athena Doctrine, who suggested that men should think more like women and the world would be a better place. From his book:

“The most innovative among us are breaking away from traditional structures to be more flexible, collaborative and nurturing. And both men and women from Medellin to Nairobi are adopting this style, which emphasizes cooperation,
long-term thinking, and flexibility. Informally, and in countless ways, they are following the Athena Doctrine, named after the
Greek Goddess, the warrior whose strength came
from wisdom and fairness.”

John started his talk with a study that should most of the world population is dissatisfied with the status quo. “Leadership, success, morality, happiness are globally viewed as in crisis”. He said that it is human nature to act more feminine in times of crisis. The world is increasingly social and interdependent hence ideas of compassion and flexibility are leading change. He made clear that this is not a ‘men vs. women’ approach but a method of collaboration to achieve higher goals.

Men and women are leading with feminine strengths, skills, and values; implementing passion with nurturing. To show us an example of the application of the doctrine he told us about ‘Cans of Hope’, a project that generates awareness and funds through recycling efforts to help the survivors of sexual trafficking, slavery, and abuse. In his study 66% agreed that feminine’ values of expressiveness, flexibility, intuition, loyalty, empathy, selflessness, patience, and openness is what is needed to address major global challenges. Another example of feminine values in action comes from the Nordic states, which introduced a shared embassy.

More examples: The highest ranking female in Israeli Defence approaches military strategy in the same way she approaches motherhood, Silvia Loli started her own female only police force to address domestic violence in Peru, Maria Damanaki is working toward freeing the sea of plastic and fishhook at a time. John’s study furthermore suggests that the more feminine values in a country the greater the GDP and quality of life. You can find his presentation here and watch his talk at TED here.

After 1.5 half exciting days the Brite Conference 2013 with around 400 attendees came to an end. Looking forward to next year!

Follow the conference on Twitter @Briteconf and check out their Storify compilation.

For more on the Brite Conference 2013, read the Day One report


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Monday Metric: Falling Short With Big Data?

SAP Performance Benchmarking

By Simran Kohli and Bill Ward

This week’s analysis focuses on the impact of big data and new analytical capabilities in business.

Creating and unlocking value in an organization starts with knowing precisely where things stand, and where the opportunities for improvement lie. To help, SAP’s Performance Benchmarking group publishes a short analysis each Monday, highlighting hot industry topics and high-impact strategies.

KEY QUESTION: How extensively are you leveraging big data opportunities?

MM 130318 Big Data








Exploding data volumes and new analytic capabilities are hot topics in many organizations today.  Indeed, thanks to in-memory technology and other advances, business leaders and analysts can perform dynamic modeling on so-called big data sets at real-time speeds.  The insights can help organizations get smarter, faster and more efficient.

The reality, however, is that despite the increasing focus on big data and analytics, many organizations have not yet developed full capabilities to effectively mine big data in “real real-time.”  According to a recent study by SAP Performance Benchmarking, fully 68% of companies surveyed reported limited or even no capabilities to perform predictive modeling with big data.

In addition, a big gap exists between the most advanced companies and the least.  For instance, organizations where top management champions high-performance analytics have on an average 38% greater use of real-time performance data and predictive analytics to run business operations.  It may be an intuitive step, but it underscores the reality that developing a ‘High Performance Analytics’ strategy holistically across an entire organization is a critical first step in capturing advantage from big data.



Note to readersSAP’s Performance Benchmarking program is a strategic service sponsored by its Value Engineering organization. Originally launched in 2004 together with ASUG as a forum to exchange metrics and best practices, the program today has grown into a global effort and one of the largest such programs in the industry—with more than 12,000 participants from more than 4,000 companies and studies available in 12 languages. Participants receive—free of charge—customized and confidential benchmarking comparisons against industry peers as well as aggregate analyses. To participate in the SAP benchmarking program, visit


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