We love SAP (data) !

By | Wednesday April 19th, 2017

We love SAP! Who wouldn’t, and who can argue with this sentiment given their success in utilities and many other industries. For all the bad press they occasionally get about failed projects they were central to such as the well-publicised situation at RWE Npower[1], many utilities operations run relatively smoothly with SAP at their core. And just to prove I am being genuine in my praise, I have worked on very successful legacy to SAP migration projects myself in a past life!

Back to today, a little more about exactly why I really do love Germany’s best export since the Volkswagon Golf GTI Mk1[2]:
• SAP looks after all that day to day operational stuff which means people like us can focus on innovation and pushing the boundaries.
• In both the customer and asset worlds SAP often holds a static data view of customers and assets which we can use alongside lots of other data at the heart of the new digital utility.

Building on this second point, you hear a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT) and the ability of these things to create and send back data to be used for cool new stuff, often as part of a digital transformation programme (as an aside and on the subject digitalisation – check out this summary of the presentation by Enedis at our EMEA conference last week[3]). To simplify the IoT for the purposes of this blog, these things are usually assets (large or small) or people about which basic information, or if you like specifications are often held as data in SAP.

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The digital utility is built on data and relies on integrating this data from SAP[4] with a wide range of other data such as IoT sensor data, maintenance logs, corporate and financial data, HR data, marketing and communications history, external data about the weather, or cities, or…. the list is genuinely infinite. Again coming back to my second bullet on digital innovation, this is how we roll at Teradata. To clear up another myth, SAP HANA is not an option here. It will help in that day to day operational space to provide extra horsepower and performance for baseline BI, but this integration of SAP data with other data at scale remains an issue.

The other important point to note is how hard it is to get data out of SAP. Looking back at that migration project to get data into SAP, there was a combined team of 50+ people working on that alone for well over two years! Flip this around and you can see why getting data out of SAP in order to use it alongside other data becomes such an issue. Luckily we have some sharp guys and girls at Teradata that have made it their lives work to get at this data quickly and automatically so you do not need to worry about how to do it, or the cost of employing a small army!

To conclude, getting data out of SAP requires some unique tools and capabilities. But it’s well worth the investment. Used alongside other data it can fix today’s problems and lower costs in your asset businesses, keep customers and boost margins in retail and do much more besides. And this is all is a key part of your digital future. SAP is a key component of any business, but especially from a data perspective it is not the be all and end all.

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Footnotes:

[1] I am not expressing a view on how culpable SAP may or may not be! I am sure they dispute these claims!

[2] No, the Mk2 is not better than the original… and yes I will own a Mk1 one day!

[3] This presentation had nothing to do with SAP specifically, but is an excellent example of why digitalisation is so important and how important data is for digitalisation.

[4] Other customer and asset repositories, and wider ERP systems are available clearly! SAP is very dominant however.

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