SAP BW/4HANA data warehouse: three customer examples

The data warehouse in practice

Swisscom has successfully implemented the SAP BW/4HANA data warehouse application package at numerous companies. The added value achieved is significant. Expert Martin Gutmann highlights some of the key application benefits for a range of customers.

Text: Andreas Kunkel, Bilder: iSTock,

Hello, Mr Gutmann. You’re part of the expert team at Swisscom responsible for, among other things, the SAP BW/4HANA data warehouse system. What kind of company benefits most from implementing this solution?

Almost any company can benefit from making the switch, including because it can be implemented independently of other SAP applications. SAP BW/4HANA offers companies a variety of benefits when it comes to consolidating data, streamlining processes and utilising real-time insights from data. I explained this in detail in the January newsletter. What’s ultimately important to me above all is the feedback from the customers for whom we have implemented SAP BW/4HANA …

… including a pharmaceutical start-up.

That’s right. Major added value in this case came in the form of real-time reporting. The data models required for an analysis – from the production area or accounting, for example – are now created in virtual form only, meaning that the data no longer need to be replicated. So this means that whenever a document is entered, for example, it’s instantly available in the reporting function. And because we also installed the SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) planning tool, it’s never been easier to perform real-time comparisons of planned and actual values. This form of comparison used to be possible only once a month and involved a great deal of manual work.

For a company in the automotive industry, the focus is on another form of added value: usability

One problem was that employees who wanted to be better able to interpret a standard report were unable to identify the causes in the details or set important filters for these. This was possible only by taking a ‘detour’ via other IT systems, which involved a lot of extra, time-consuming work and even sapped people’s motivation to contribute to continuous improvement processes. So using SAP BW/4HANA as a basis, we replaced the existing data warehouse system from Microsoft, implemented the SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) end user tool and created a powerful self-service platform. The crucial added value in this example is that the different specialist areas can now prepare their own analyses by themselves.

SAP BW/4HANA was also the basis for consolidating the IT infrastructure at Swisscom. B2B trade magazine Computerworld reported on this.

Our challenge was to consolidate more than 100 data flows and logical models. We also had to integrate a complex architecture comprising three SAP business warehouses and applications from third parties. The heterogeneity of the IT infrastructure meant that we were lacking the vital real-time data that would help us to plan product deliveries to Swisscom shops. Thanks to SAP BW/4HANA, we now have a comprehensive platform that manages all our company data in standardised form, enhances customer satisfaction and identifies previously unseen interrelationships and dependencies through data analyses. Another factor that can’t be underestimated is the extensive, in-depth experience that we have acquired and can now pass on to other companies.

The use cases prove that the added value actually achieved can vary depending on the focus. Does that mean it can’t be quantified?

Absolute figures applicable across the board don’t exist, but let me highlight a typical example. At one company operating in the banking world, night-time data processing took eleven hours, meaning that some analyses were not available until midday on the following day. But after the company switched to BW/4HANA, it was possible to begin data analyses in the early hours of the morning. The processing time had almost halved.

Every implementation project involves some outlay.

Of course. But it’s my and my team’s job to keep this outlay to a minimum. We guide our customers’ employees through the different processes step by step – from project initiation to go-live. What’s really important here is the agile approach that we pursue at Swisscom. A series of iteration loops allow companies to benefit from the gradual introduction of ever more features, which they can then use instantly. This ensures a step-by-step introduction to the broadened perspectives now available to companies. Employees enjoy a complete overview of the situation at all times and become gradually acquainted with all the different benefits, features and functions.

What is your approach?

It’s important that we look beyond the idea of a purely analytic application; for example, by putting our heads together and answering some key questions in the analysis phase, such as which data are processed? In what way? When? Why? What peripheral systems and interfaces are there? Who are the consumers? This is important for many reasons, including because our experience shows that the specific system and project context is much more extensive and wide-ranging than many think. And this is exactly why Swisscom’s creativity, ingenuity and, above all, many years of experience are so valuable: we can respond instantly and appropriately to any sudden project risks. This gives our customers peace of mind across all project phases – from costing, staffing, requirements analysis and stakeholder management through to consistent quality assurance, data migration and the scheduled go-live.

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