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Victoria University BCO6181 Learning & SAP BI OnDemand Weblog

BCO6181 is a hands-on and information SAP orientated subject run by SAP mentor Tony de Thomasis at the Victoria University, Melbourne Australia.

SAP History

Our learning started off with an introduction to the historical journey of SAP on its evolutionary path. For almost 40 years SAP has been growing into what it is today, an ERP system running the largest companies in the world across time zones, sovereign borders, language and currency barriers. We learnt the names of the original five – Hasso, Claus, Dietmar, Klaus and Hans.

The SAP MiniWAS

We quickly moved onto the SAP Community Network (SCN) and downloaded the NetWeaver MiniWAS followed by the VMware software. The only hardware that we owned in the BCO6181 class was our own PC together with a shared internet connection. Nasir Gondal our trusty lab assistant (as Tony referred to him) helped us load the VMware software and SAP Binaries individually on each of our machines. You should have seen the excitement in the class when we all got our own personal SAP Instances running.

The NetWeaver MiniWAS, for those that do not know, is a cut down version of the famous SAP ERP system that can easily run on your own PC – how cool is that! We used to think of SAP being a goliath that you need years to get your head around while working in industry. We now have our own free (a student’s favourite four letter F word) use of the NetWeaver MiniWAS to further our SAP knowledge. This must be the best try-before-you-buy offer ever. Thanks Hasso, – you give stuff away that other vendors would make you pay for. My dad used to give free musk sticks to kids in his shop – same concept, happy days!

SAP in the Cloud

We learnt how the NetWeaver MiniWAS that we use in our Virtual Machines mode can also be run in the Cloud. We saw a demonstration of how easy it is to provision an Amazon Web Services (AWS) image and then load the SAP NetWeaver MiniWAS software and install an SAP instance. A few of us got to log into the fresh AWS instance from our own PC during the class. We now understand that you can choose from several vendors that sell Cloud space and time at relatively cheap prices – peanuts per day! Running your SAP Systems in the Cloud helps to reduce the total cost of ownership TCO by removing the need to maintain several servers in an expensive data centre. The Cloud is like renting a house, you don’t own it, you live there but the landlord is responsible when the heater is not working, you just pay the agreed rent. Companies like Amazon pride themselves on low cost, instant elastic, open, flexible and secure services. We reckon the Cloud is the next evolution of the Virtualization concept.

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Wave if your MiniWAS works!

More Cloud offerings

We then proceeded to learn about several other useful Cloud based solutions including Prezi, Streamwork, HANA, BI OnDemand and SAP Gateway. Many students were excited about the prospect of Mobility being a natural extension of the BI OnDemand offering. Having an iPad coupled with BI OnDemand would assist end users attending meetings or even the direct staff to discuss various scenarios for business improvement. BI OnDemand legitimizes the ‘why’ we need to change work practices to reduce workplace accidents to staff.

The BI OnDemand offering

With the emergence of Cloud computing, SAP has broadened their in-memory computing HANA offering to now also run in the Cloud. The BI OnDemand powered by HANA Cloud application is available for anyone to trial and prototype their analytic requirements prior to making long-term investment decisions in a product or platform.  Once the technology is tested, customer and partner companies will be able build Cloud based solutions for BI OnDemand applications.

Some of the capabilities of the SAP BI OnDemand powered by HANA offering are outlined as follows:

  • Ability to process large amounts of non aggregated data at high speeds;
  • Reduction and elimination of data duplication;
  • Ability to produce flexible analytical reports and models with real-time and historical data; and
  • Possibilities for customers to create new applications that will run directly on the HANA platform

Using BI OnDemand at work.

Students were encouraged to experiment and illustrate how BI OnDemand can help to improve existing processes in the workplace.  With real world examples we will illustrate that although SAP BI OnDemand is new and under utilised in the market place, there are key benefits which can be obtained from implementing this solution within an organisation.

Dessi Kartcheva describes how BI OnDemand can revolutionise her day to day work experiences.

I currently work for a large FMCG company within Australia. Working within Supply Chain requires real time information in order to do my job proficiently. Recently we have built dashboards in order to visualise data and make reporting more user friendly. BI OnDemand offers an attractive graphical representation of a company’s current status/position and shows historical trends of KPI’s that enable instantaneous and informed decisions. I believe the success of BI OnDemand depends largely on the metrics that are chosen for monitoring. Within my company, we currently use a similar methodology to monitor key performance indicators such as store availability, sales, forecast accuracy, supplier performance etc.

BI OnDemand allows companies to consolidate data from several sources and allows users to create reports, dashboards, charts and graphs that cater to specific business/department needs. What I find advantageous about BI OnDemand is that you can drill down to specific information that you require. You can compile information with ease that is specific for your department. BI on Demand allows employees to explore and report on data from several sources that caters to their unique needs and gives a complete view of the business. BI OnDemand can support employees with “what if’ analysis.

BI OnDemand is also a great hub to share information both internally or with external partners. We recently gave suppliers access to our dashboard so that they can monitor their own supplier performance. They are now able to access information such as DIFOT (Delivery in Full on Time) metrics and it allows them to view their future promotional forecasts, current stock cover, out of stocks, overstocks etc. Prior to this, employees had to email this information out on an adhoc basis. Obviously this is not a value-add task and wastes time and resources. BI OnDemand eliminates these inefficient processes and creates a more productive work environment.

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Nathan Chandra, describes how he will use BI OnDemand to improve the Salesforce.

I work for is a cosmetics company, with a manufacturing plant in Queensland and head office in Melbourne. We supply our products throughout Australia and around the world. Our company’s biggest challenge is caused by the ERP reporting tool not being integrated across all departments. For a simple sales report, we currently have to run through many pages of data and it is hard to find what we really want. We do not have the facility to extract all the data from all states in relation to particular products, customers and regions. It is difficult to navigate across vast quantities of information in order to find specific data required.

With BI OnDemand, we no longer need to aggregate the sales report from various data sources or manually create pivot tables, charts and graphs. We can share the report very easily, introduce information from different data sources and explore data with the easy to use search and browse functionality. The software is free to try, and the scalable pricing model can fits any needs or budgets. After learning about the features of BI OnDemand during the BCO6181 course, I will recommend this as an efficient mechanism for our company to improve the sales force and benefit our company’s development

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Closing remarks.

The following students designed and created the SCN weblog you have just enjoyed using the Streamwork tool.

We encourage all readers to use SCN to share ideas and introduce innovation in the community by influencing others.

3 Comments
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  • It is great to have access to MiniWAS. I have access to various software development tools available in MiniWAS.

    The downside is that there is no functional module.

    It's great to hear that you can utilise BI On Demand in your workplace. I'd definitely investigate how BI on Demand can be utilised in my workplace too.

  • Great work  Danny and team.  A great recap of our learnings in the BCO6181 course and I enjoyed reading it.  I too am looking forward to demonstrating BI OnDemand and other BI software to my team as there are great potential uses in our company also.  Thanks for sharing..