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The delivery of the right information at the right time is of a very high importance for many business processes: How to figure out your best customers for being able to make even more revenue with them? How to identify potential for cost savings in procurement processes? These are the areas where business intelligence in combination with consolidated master data comes into play. However, this information resides in disparate silos across the enterprise which first needs to be integrated. And finally the resulting business knowledge needs to be exposed in a standardized manner for making it accessible to diverse applications. These are the areas where SOA adds significant value to Enterprise Information Management (EIM) resulting finally in higher business agility.
Within a series of SDN articles we would like to show you by a case study how you can implement use cases of EIM with SAP NetWeaver and SAP BusinessObjects solutions.

Introduction to the Case Study

The ITelO corporation acquired a company called ExTelO. Both are targeting the same market, which means that they have the same products and customers. To protect the made investments it is intended to keep the existing system landscape for a speficic period of time: image

Figure 1: System landscape of ITelO and ExTelO after merger 

After the merger ITelO wants to increase profit by 30% this year. However, the management is facing the issues in fulfilling this KPI: They are not able to make effective, informed decisions based on solid data and analysis as the master and transactional data are neither integrated nor consolidated.
Let’s have a look at how this issue affects the daily business: The sales department would like to address the joint top customers through a marketing campaign for accelerating the sales revenue. But they are not able to do so due to the following challenges they are facing:

  • Inconsistent customer master data doesn’t allow to determine and address the joint customers properly
  • Missing consolidated view on the sales revenue per customer doesn’t allow to identify the top customers
  • Information is dispersed across heterogeneous applications which complicates its use for different kinds of business purpose

The IT Management of ITelO is looking for ways for mastering these challenges. They decide to introduce EIM following the principles of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Why to Combine Enterprise Information Management with SOA?

Actually you can say that SOA and EIM need each other. With EIM you are able to turn raw data into actionable information for driving business decisions. In this matter SOA does benefit from EIM as follows:

  • Higher data quality as the data is cleansed, validated and harmonized.
  • The quality of master data impacts transactional and analytical processes.
  • Turn data into actionable information for being able to make sound business decisions.
  • Enables service consumers to access enterprise information and master data.

SOA is not only the technical enabler for retrieving data from various sources as SOA comes with a holistic methodology. In this regard EIM can benefit from SOA principles as follows:

  • Standardization through SOA design governance: SOA artifacts, their semantics and relationships are clearly defined and maintained due to metadata management and business process modeling capabilities.
  • Higher transparency of information services: This is ensured through central repositories and registries simplifying the reuse of existing assets.
  • Enterprise information can be provided independent from the consuming technology: This is a prerequisite for assuring a broad adoption for various use cases.
  • Business processes can be orchestrated using (information) services within composite applications: This allows to change processes more flexible as needed by the business without affecting the related backend applications.

Overview of Use Cases

Now let’s take a look at how you can implement EIM using SAP NetWeaver and SAP Business Object solutions. Along the case study the following use cases are demonstrated:

1. Discovery of SOA Artifacts & Consolidation of Master Data

We start with the discovery of SOA artifacts and pre-defined integration content in the Enterprise Services Repository for handling master data. Afterwards we will show how to integrate master data like customer master data from diverse applications into SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (SAP NetWeaver MDM). For migrating huge volumes of most likely inconsistent data SAP BusinessObjects Data Services are used which includes automated cleansing, matching and even an auto-merging of master data. Finally the manual consolidation and building up the key mapping information is done in SAP NetWeaver MDM.
If you would like to see how this works take a look at the following recordings:

2. Consolidation of Transactional Data

After the consolidated master data has been loaded from SAP NetWeaver MDM to SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) the consolidation of transactional data has to follow in order to provide an reliable picture of the operational business. For this purpose transactional data are loaded from the diverse applications into one data warehouse model of SAP NetWeaver BW for example by using SAP Business Objects Data Services as solution for ETL (etxract, transform, load). Based on such a model Information Discovery and Delivery tools will then open up the space for sound business analysis.
Now, let’s take a look at the solution in action:

Stay tuned – the next SDN articles of this series will be published soon:

3. Information Provisioning & Service Enabling

In order to foster the use of consolidated information across the entire company you can easily service enable these. For instance, you can service enable master data information using the MDM Web service Generator. For SAP NetWeaver BW you can service enable queries. These services can be published to the Services Registry which act as a kind of yellow pages: By doing so the services available at your company are made transparent to potential service consumers. 

4. Consumption of Information Services

After information services have been provided let’s figure out how these can be consumed: For example you can consume these services in user interfaces like Web Dynpros or Xcelsius dashboards. These can be embedded into a composite business processes implemented with SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (SAP NetWeaver BPM): You can combine these human activities with automated activities like enterprise services for SAP applications for introducing flexible businessprocesses.

5. Monitoring the Process End-to-End Using an Integration Process

For monitoring application centric business processes end-to-end you can implement a mediated integration process (ccBPM) with SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI). This process captures information events fired from the respective applications and notifies business people in case of deviations in the process.

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