Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Stacy Ries

Real-Time Business: Real-World Success Stories from GE, Cisco, and The Children’s Place

As consumers, we’ve gotten used to getting what we need, when we need it. Stores are open seven days a week, sometimes 24 hours a day. The Internet answers our most urgent – and most trivial – questions immediately. News arrives instantly via Twitter, sometimes hours before professional news crews arrive to cover it. We talk face-to-face with distant family and friends with video chats.

The need for “instant information” is even more important in business. E-mails and texts follow us on our smartphones and tablets 24 hours a day, bringing round-the-clock demands and opportunities. The stakes are incredibly high, and “real-time business” – processes that allow companies to conduct a range of business activities instantaneously – is becoming the new norm.

How the Cisco / SAP Partnership  Gives

Decision Makers the High-Value Information They Need

In this interview, Padmasree Warrior, SVP of Engineering and CTO of Cisco talks about how Cisco uses SAP HANA and the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio to enhance its “explore and act” capabilities. In-memory computing lets Cisco analyze vast amounts of information at blazing speeds with no impact on transactional performance.

SVP and CIO Rebecca Jacoby says that Cisco is using the SAP HANA platform to serve more than 4,000 sales managers in locations around the world, providing self-service reporting and critical field access to data in seconds. SAP HANA enables the company to transform 700 million rows of data into valuable information that helps them make better decisions.

“Real-time” incorporates all aspects of business, including gathering and acting on business intelligence, developing promotional and marketing tactics, controlling and adjusting production processes, managing inventory, identifying and managing business risks, closing and fulfilling sales, and meeting customer needs.

It’s a new way of working that requires in-memory computing and a fully integrated software platform. Rather than storing information on various external disks and caching bits of data in a computer’s random access memory (RAM), real-time intelligence puts the data directly into RAM. This is the simple but transformative concept behind the SAP HANA platform.

Why Companies Are Moving to Real Time

To learn more about how companies are moving to real-time business, Oxford Economics conducted a global survey, sponsored by SAP, of 525 C-suite executives in the consumer products, high tech, oil and gas, and retail industries. It also conducted more in-depth personal interviews with senior executives in those industries. You can take a look at the full report, titled “Real-Time Business: Playing to Win in the New Global Marketplace.”

The survey found that “early implementers” – firms that have already adopted real-time business methods – have seen the benefits and are using real-time business methods across the enterprise. Roughly 95% of those respondents have some form of real-time business applications in place across all departments

The Benefits for Early Adopters

Naturally, obtaining a strategic benefit is a key driver for implementing real-time operations. Among early adopters, the survey found that growth in market share (77%) is the most frequently cited driver for adoption. This result is followed by building service and / or quality advantages (71%), expanding addressable markets (68%), and building cost advantages (67%).

SAP HANA is rapidly changing the way businesses work and raising the expectations for delivering better decisions and time to market. At GE Energy, work is under way to embed real-time sensing software and controls into equipment to run its plants. “There is a huge wave of activity that is taking place now around data collection,” says Dr. Peter Evans, head of strategy for GE Energy. “We are putting in place the frameworks for better decision making about how to run these plants at higher performance.” GE is also sharing the real-time data it collects from its fleet of over 1,000 gas turbines with clients so they can benchmark performance. “We collect and analyze the data, and turn it into a better solutions,” he says.

Real-Time Data Put to the Test What It Means for Real-Time Business

You’ve heard a lot about the SAP HANA platform and its incredible speed, and there’s been some discussion about how fast it actually performs. To settle the debate, we recently conducted a one-petabyte performance test that took place at Intel’s colocation facility in Santa Clara, California.

We installed 100 IBM servers in a single SAP HANA cluster, and loaded 10 years’ worth of sales and distribution data, at an average of 328 million transactions per day. That worked out to 1.2 trillion records – a petabyte of raw, uncompressed data. The result: incredibly fast response times of 0.43 to 0.50 seconds for ad hoc sales and distribution queries, and 1.2 to 3.1 seconds for more complex year-over-year trending data over different time periods.¹

In other words, “now” is the new opportunity for business – seeing a clear view of what’s happening with customers, products, manufacturing, marketing, and everything else they want to monitor, with greater understanding than ever before.

Putting Real Time to Work


So how are businesses taking advantage of real-time business capabilities? To find out, Oxford Economics conducted a global survey (sponsored by SAP), of 525 C-suite level executives in the consumer products, high tech, oil and gas, and retail industries. IT also conducted more in-depth personal interviews with senior executives in those industries.

One of those executives, Sunil Verma, CIO and SVP of U.S.-based clothing retailer The Children’s Place, found that real-time business is causing a major transformation. “We have a new mandate to elevate what we do both in terms of product and how we service the customer,” he says. Real-time operations are helping The Children’s Place deliver more personalized offers to customers.

“Having access to immediate customer data is a huge opportunity,” he says. In the past it took 30 days to know if a customer had made a purchase online or in a store. “Because a customer’s status couldn’t be updated immediately,” he explains, “they may have received suboptimal offers or incentives.”

Simple changes in real-time operations are driving big benefits in terms of revenue. In fact, companies that have implemented real-time systems are seeing revenue gains of 21% and cost reductions of 19%. Among early adopters, 77% report revenue gains.

Looking Ahead

Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2014, 30% of business analytics tools will use in-memory functions to add scale and computational speed – and 30% of business intelligence applications will use predictive forecasting. Can your business really afford to fall behind?

To see how other companies are implementing real-time business with in-memory analytics and a fully integrated software platform, download the Oxford Economics white paper titled “Real-Time Business: Playing to Win in the New Global Marketplace.”

¹This test was done in Santa Clara on 100 nodes of IBM x5 servers, each with 1TB DRAM, 40 cores. In a petascale performance test of SAP HANA in-memory cluster 1 PB of raw data was loaded onto 95 active nodes, five were used as standby nodes for failover.

Assigned tags

      Be the first to leave a comment
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.