SAP BW/4HANA is an excellent tool for consolidating data throughout the entire company, streamlining processes and utilising real-time insights. The data warehouse solution is based on SAP HANA and is one the most interesting tools in the recent history of SAP.
Text: Sapayev Anvar, Images: iSTock,
The Tower of Babel? That certainly does not have anything to do with SAP BW/4HANA! You would think so. But there is an important analogy here: Construction could not be completed because the peoples involved spoke different dialects and used differing methods. All of the approaches were justified, all of them had developed over time, and all were intrinsically logical and robust. And yet the cooperation did not work. A Babylonian mish-mash of languages resulted that first hampered the efficiency of individual measures and then thwarted the success of the entire enterprise.
Many Swiss companies also have stories like this one to tell when it comes to the diminishing efficiency of their processes and the diversity of their systems. The new standalone data warehouse solution SAP BW/4HANA can solve this growing problem. The application package makes it possible to streamline processes extensively and provides an insight into synergies to increase efficiency. With this solution based on SAP HANA, all of the information is held securely in one place. Everything fits together. Everything can be used instantly. And the performance level that can be achieved as a result is unrivalled.
The first trick that SAP uses to increase performance is its specially developed in-memory database: Unlike conventional databases that have to transfer data from the hard drive to the fast random access memory each time in order to analyse it, now the random access memory is also used as data memory. And the data is prioritised. True to the slogan ‘hot or not’, frequently used information is kept warm there and is therefore on a higher level. Less frequently used, cold data is also kept at the ready, albeit on a less attractive level but one which still responds promptly. Only unused data stays in the archive. In addition, the data structures are always prepared so that they can be used without wasting any time on computing.
This new league in terms of performance has a variety of benefits for companies, all of which can ultimately be summed up in one: all data is accessible immediately – without having to take any detours. The evaluation time, for example, is reduced accordingly. In our experience, it is not uncommon to see it reduced by half. But there are also comparable increases in the efficiency of other functions.
I have already hinted at the second, massive benefit of SAP BW/4HANA: Thanks to the platform’s substantial openness to other systems, the “Babylonian mish-mash of languages” disappears. Companies save on translations between the individual formats. Owing to the large number of interfaces, all common data formats (also non-SAP formats) can now be read and standardised. So, anybody who uses an SQL or Oracle database, for example, can continue to do so. The data is prepared in such a way that it can be analysed in real time. This option is also becoming more and more important because companies will be increasingly turning their attention to data that requires live processing in the coming years. After all, this is the only way to enable it to be used for automated forecasts or for decision-making, for example.
The marked reduction in complexity is the third significant benefit of SAP BW/4HANA. You no longer need various modelling objects in order to create reports, for example. What is more, data no longer needs to be replicated because the interface issues no longer apply. And it is increasingly the case that users are spared the ‘materialisation’ of data. To put it crudely, if you do not need to print or scan anything, you will save time and paper.
And finally, SAP BW/4HANA offers clear advantages in terms of usability. Via the SAP Analytics Cloud end user tool, it is now also possible for the first time for specialist areas to create their own reports, dashboards or even data marts – without having to request assistance from the IT department every time. In addition, it is now possible to use planning, predictive and machine learning functionalities independently. That spares resources. Especially as the tool can also be controlled via a web-based interface and can be conveniently accessed via a PC or a mobile device.
We at Swisscom have already introduced SAP BW/4HANA at a large number of companies in the last few years. Thanks to the strengths indicated here and the openness of the HANA platform, the feedback has been consistently positive. The same is also true within our own company, where we have brought several data warehouses together permanently and extremely efficiently via SAP BW/4HANA. In the upcoming newsletter, my colleague Martin Gutmann [Link] will therefore take up the topic once more and present some case studies.
Head of Analytics & Data Consulting
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