Driving The Intelligent Enterprise

Karl-Heinz Hoffmann

A Formula 1 racing car is bristling with the latest technology, from sophisticated energy recapture and drag reduction systems to state-of-the-art materials and aerodynamics. But to fulfill its core purpose of winning races, it still needs the best engine.

The same is true of the modern business. To get the best out of technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, advanced analytics, robotics, and blockchain – and become a truly intelligent enterprise – you need the most powerful business data platform under the hood.

So, what makes a world-class business data platform? Let’s take a look at some of the key components and characteristics.

Accelerate with simplicity

In-memory computing is the transformative technology breakthrough, enabling both analytic and transactional workloads to be combined on a single instance of data on a single platform. This vastly simplifies application development and data preparation and eliminates the need for separate operational data stores and many data marts. Built-in advanced analytics and multi-model processing enable storage and processing of advanced data structures on the same platform, dramatically reducing data sprawl and the need for specialized data management technology. All of this helps IT organizations deliver unrivaled speed, reducing time to value while simplifying application architectures and IT landscapes. But beware of imitations: A true in-memory database was built from the ground up on a simplified architecture, rather than merely bolting an in-memory capability onto an existing database.

Fuel performance with live intelligence

Winning and losing often comes down to small margins. The ability to get instant insights from all your data and make rapid decisions is a vital competitive advantage. A business data platform for the intelligent enterprise delivers next-generation transactional and analytical processing with the broadest array of advanced analytics capabilities on any data – graph, documents, text, search, spatial, streaming, machine learning, and predictive. It will help create a single trusted view of the truth from any number of sources – including Hadoop, IoT, and the cloud – with high data integrity and minimal duplication. And it provides a single business interface for all users, with radically simplified data access without moving data from place to place to act on it.

Drive innovation

The pace of innovation is relentless. The intelligent enterprise needs a business data platform that enables rapid, trusted, business outcome-based innovation without the risk of security or privacy compliance breaches. This flexible, future-ready platform supports application development with open interfaces and tools to leverage existing assets and skills, and business content and algorithms to accelerate applications and insights. These will include prepackaged in-database services for recurring business data processing that integrate with industry standard development environments, and extensive libraries of optimized machine learning and predictive algorithms. The platform also supports hybrid and multi-cloud environments so you can develop once and deploy everywhere.

Compete with the best

Companies around the world are already leveraging the power of a business data platform to differentiate their solutions and services, create new business models and revenue streams, deliver a best-in-class user experience, and rapidly build, modernize, and extend business applications that deliver data-driven outcomes. Here are just a few examples.

Anyone who’s extended their house knows how difficult it can be to coordinate all the different contractors and materials so the project is completed on time and on budget with minimal wastage. Multiply that a thousand-fold and you get an idea of the complexities of managing a major building or engineering project.

Seeing an opportunity to disrupt an industry lagging far behind in digitalization, Berlin-based start-up Sablono has created a state of the art web-platform and mobile application specifically designed to manage, document, and oversee complex construction and delivery management processes. For the first time, project managers get access to real-time information about their detailed construction sequences to keep everything on schedule, resulting in tremendous time and cost savings and happier customers.

Manufacturers also face a constant rise in customer expectations for customized products and shorter lead times. Intelligent technologies like the Internet of Things, cloud, and cognitive computing are really making a difference by enabling the creation of smart factories, but other business processes are struggling to keep up.

Singapore-based independent software-as-a-service provider In Mind Cloud is addressing this problem with a solution that brings configure, price, and quote (CPQ) processes into the digital age. Using live data from the manufacturer’s ERP, CRM, and sales applications, the solution quickly produces real-time quotes that are based on the customer’s specific requirements and the manufacturer’s own needs in terms of production, costs, and margins.

Similarly, in the utilities industry, customers expect greater transparency into their energy usage and pricing, yet many providers are struggling to make the most of the huge amounts of valuable meter information they collect. To address this issue, Itron Inc, a US technology provider to the utilities industry, is intelligently combining Big Data, IoT technology, and advanced analytics on a single real-time business data platform to optimize operational efficiency and provide a better customer service.

Improving the customer experience was also behind Hagleitner Hygiene International’s decision to move from a commodity product-based business model to a service-based model. Powered by a leading business data platform, the Austria-based hygiene solutions provider has combined IoT and advanced analytics to deploy a new generation of “intelligent” soap, disinfectant, and towel and paper dispensers. This new approach means that washroom facilities are always fully stocked and customers enjoy higher standards of hygiene, service, and employee satisfaction – enabling Hagleitner to stay ahead in a highly competitive market.

Based in The Netherlands, Wolters Kluwer is a leading global provider of professional information services to finance departments across the world that are struggling to make sense of the growing mass of corporate data from fragmented systems. With its CCH Tagetik software, the company is using Big Data, advanced analytics, and cloud technology through a powerful business data platform to help revolutionize the world of corporate performance management.

Win the data race

Data sprawl is becoming a major issue for many companies. Although volumes have increased dramatically, most enterprises have their data spread across six to eight clouds – reducing accessibility and increasing the risks from a lack of governance, such as a GDPR privacy breach. Yet in the age of the intelligent enterprise, it’s more important than ever for businesses to harness the power of their data and provide users with the right information in context at the right moment for the task in hand. The data needs to be instant, trustworthy, compliant and accurate – and only a modern business data platform can deliver this.

Visit the SAP Build Better website for more examples of how SAP partners are leveraging SAP’s business data platform as their core technology to drive the intelligent enterprise.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

Karl-Heinz Hoffmann

About Karl-Heinz Hoffmann

Karl has been helping organizations deliver software value for nearly 25 years. At SAP he is responsible for leading the Global, ISV Value Engineering practice. This organization helps ISV’s (Independent Software Vendors, companies that make and sell software) identify, quantify and define the success blueprint for using SAP Technology as part of their software. Prior to SAP, he worked at BEA, Sybase and end-clients, in various leadership roles to define, lead and help execute software strategies.