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Series 1: Introduction to SAP xApps Analytics: A Quest Answered!

A Quick Flashback

February 2005: Thoughts! Ideas! Solutions! …and a killer application. I emerged out of the customer discussion with more questions than answers. I had spent years thinking through the performance management solutions.I thought I could now present a comprehensive solution to the customers, but I was challenged by the all familiar question: “How do I build applications which would be able to combine the need for flexibility and at the same time react to the speed of business?”

I was trying to build that silver bullet –that killer analytical application which would be the realization of a long cherished dream: to help business run more efficiently, to improve or re-engineer today’s business processes with analytics so that we could see quantum jumps in productivity.

Let me present to you my Quest, which I was working on:

The “inventory management”application alerted me of Product X being a “slow moving item” and it is in the central warehouse in Region A for more than 90 days. It then tells me the “actual dollars” locked in as Inventory for this product. It also provides me information on my Inventory Turns and Total Inventory Value,aggregated at the company level and drill downs providing me granular details of every warehouse and plant in different locations spread across various continents.

Hang on! This is not all …now comes the interesting part: “What I want to do with this information.”

The analytical application should now collaborate with the CRM application for “Promotions and Campaign Management” and provide me detailed analysis of the financial effect of running a promotion on Product X and how fast could I recover the locked dollars and what are the margins on this campaign.

While I get this information I need to check with the manufacturing facility about the schedule production for Product X across all my plants. I need to synchronize this with the planned schedule and alert both the production planner and the plant manager. I need them to stop any further production of Product X and collaborate with the sales to reconcile this situation.

While I work on the short term fix I need details about the root cause analysis: I would need information about the demand/supply mismatch for the last quarter. I also need to understand that whether the demand for Product X is cannibalized by the recently launched Product Y or is there any other reason for the sluggish demand. In end I would like to drill down to the root cause of the problem and present context to the decision makers so that a long term solution could be taken.

So this is what I intend to achieve. I want to synchronize my business process across various functions of SCM, CRM and ERP based on the context and have problem resolution through information exchange between these applications.

My quest was inspired by a simple thought: “If I could help a company improve its productivity by mere 5% and reduce expenditure by another 5 %, and if I could do this for Fortune 1000 companies to start with, then I am looking at a savings number, …well wait this is taking me some time to calculate and comprehend. I would leave this calculation for you to do!

Just to add a trick to that calculation: if I could make this as an iterative process with feedback then the improvement in a single company itself would be mind blowing. When you calculate the answer, then you would get a view into the world of analytics and my quest.

Intelligent, Predictive, Continuously Monitored Processes powered by Analytics can make such a difference and be game changing in today’s competitive landscape. This very reasons and the charm of analytics kept my quest going forward. I had a very tricky problem at hand, while I knew what needs to be done I was not able to formulate it into a complete solution which I could present to the customers. I had to find the answer and with so much technology at our disposal I thought I am near …and yet I was far!

It was this time when I had a discussion with a team which had some breakthrough ideas about presenting analytics .There was a group of people all so focused and knowledgeable about analytics and how they wanted to take this forward. Rest is history and I before I realized I was part of a team building the new generation of analytical applications. Soon the momentum grew and the work of several dedicated professionals so passionate about there work got the new breed of analytical applications to the market – yes, you guessed it correctly this was the solution SAP xApps Analytics.

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Back to Now

May 2006: SAP xApps analytics had grown over a year old. The ideas converted to prototypes, prototypes converted into productized solutions, and we also had ramp-up customer live on this solution. This was challenging yet an interesting journey. I was very fortunate to be a part of this journey. There had been so many learnings I could gather in the past one year about analytical applications that I thought it would be very useful to share my experience about this wonderful journey. This led me to be excited enough to share within the community – the community of experts, our journey in a series of weblogs.

Before I elaborate on the capabilities of the solution and write volumes of material sharing similarity to the solution brief or the marketing material on SAP xApps Analytics, I would quickly come back to the main theme of this weblog, which is – illustrating the SAP xApps analytics at work, at work at real customer sites.I would like to show how with this exciting application we could solve some challenging business problems of today and get value out of that.

And how I found answers to my quest!

I want to illustrate the true value which we could generate with such an application. I want to talk of real profit margins increasing as a result of analytics powered application. I would like to illustrate how you could leverage the solution to optimize the business process and make a difference in the revenue numbers.

Analytics, when used intelligently, is a very strong competitive weapon and this is completely game changing. It is a journey which I invite you all to be part of and share with me your ideas so that we could make an impact on new generations of the business processes.

I plan to illustrate how xApps Analytics helped me solved the quest. I want to take you through the analytical application design for the business problem I had. In my next series I would like to show how value is leveraged when we combine the transactioanl and the analytical steps in a business process. But before that I would like to have your comments and experience in dealing with related applications. Thanks!…Signing off for the day!

A sample application

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      straight to the point and very understandable message here. I agree that we need to work on more on the value story.
      Is there a chance to link in more xApps?

      All the best,
      Claus

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi

      A solution using CAF / xApps analytics has already been created to provide a solution of managing slow / obsolete inventory.This product called "Inventory Optimizer" has been certified by SAp and has been built by Patni Computer systems. This was demonstrated at Sapphire in orlando. If you need more information write to eas@patni.com

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I am very interested to hear more. In particular I would like to see how you combine the analytic intelligence contained in the transactional layer (like ERP analytivs, CRM analytics) with the flexibility of the xApp, and how you create value which couldn't have been achieved without.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I'm really looking forward to reading more of it. Especially I hope to see the difference between the xApps and BI web reporting. Because your example looks like it can be built with simple web reporting too - even if it might look not that stylish.

      Best regards
        Dirk

      Author's profile photo Rahul Kamada
      Rahul Kamada
      I think this blog does exactly what it sets out to. INTRODUCES the background for xApps Analytics and whets the casual reader's appetite for more information. Obviously anyone who reads this is waiting to see the next blog in the series, the promised real-life non-hypothetical examples. And I have no doubt Mr. Anirban will deliver! Kudos for a well written blog entry!
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Based on the experience that we (in Patni Computer systems - www.patni.com) have had in developing the Inventory Optimizer, we believe that the visual composer tool and the xApps tool is an absolutely great way to build applications. The challenge is in identifying applications that span across systems and which actually add value to the user organisation. We also find that it is a very convenient method to build an application "on top" of the existing suite of applications that organisations may use. Our product development team is already exploring many other avenues in the supply chain area and we will be happy to share our experiences......Srikanth, Patni Computer systems
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Talking about Xapps... Bristlecone's 'PlannerDA' is one of the earliest Xapps developed and being used successfully by many companies. It has an exception engine to identify the user defined scenerios and alert the planners.