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Author's profile photo Werner Baumbach

Understanding the game

I am a huge soccer fan. I don’t sleep in team colors, but have gone through good times and bad times with my club. Borussia Dortmund went from near bankruptcy in 2005 to defending the national title and winning the national cup final on top in 2012. In addition to a passionate, hungry and highly talented team, this remarkable development is often attributed to the coaching staff. With a profound understanding of the game and supported by modern analytical tools, it was possible to not only train the players to higher levels of performance, but also to analyze and understand how opposing teams played, develop and implement strategies to counter-measure these strengths while leveraging the own team’s abilities.  The result of this was literally game-changing. Accompanied by thousands of enthusiastic fans, Borussia Dortmund is back in the elite circle of European top teams.

To me, today’s business environment is similar in many ways. It is very hard to be successful without a motivated and talented team and of course passionate fans or customers. Gut-feel, intuition and entrepreneurship will still make the difference between average and great companies. But as Louis Pasteur put it: chance favors the prepared mind. So a key element to success in this highly competitive world is to fully understand the market, the customer and of course our own company. What is happening, where are our strengths, what are the threats, and what opportunities could we go after? In football as in business, the better we understand where we are and what is happening, the better we can develop strategies, formulate plans and react to unexpected events during the execution. In both worlds it is vital for success to understand how all the parts come together and be able to make changes quickly when things do not go as planned, before events have a devastating impact. With this profound understanding comes the ability to develop tailor-made plans for any upcoming situation, simulate the impact, analyze risks and possibilities, and track successful execution.

While the basic business concepts have been true for a long time, modern technology makes it possible to take this to a completely new level.  In-memory based technology like SAP HANA powers analytical and planning solutions that were unthinkable only a few years ago. It allows insight in unprecedented detail, a crisp understanding of what is really happening right now and allows real fact-based planning, simulation and execution. Of course, data by itself is not yet a solution and with more and more data available, processing and understanding this vast pool of information is the art of transforming data into a strategy. SAP Business Analytics powered by HANA puts a set of tools into your hands that allows you to do just that. You can focus on understanding the information and make decisions, not sorting through scores of facts. In business as in soccer, it will still be up to your team to score and win, but with the right insight and preparation you can give them the competitive edge when they walk out onto the field.

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      Author's profile photo Timothy Schroeder
      Timothy Schroeder

      Great observations!  With so much information available to us today, being able to transform this information into action is the difference.

      Author's profile photo Mike Wise
      Mike Wise

      Well said.  Almost every distributor I talk to today wants deeper insight into their company and they want that insight faster. 

      Author's profile photo Karen Lynch
      Karen Lynch

      Deeper insights will not only help the team win, but think of how it can help the venue win.  Imagine being able to understand historical sales on concession stand items, know that the temperatures will be unseasonably warm for the next game, and have additional stock (ice cream, cold beer) on hand to meet the increased demand.  This equates to real revenue for the venue's operators, not to mention happy soccer fans.

      Author's profile photo Werner Baumbach
      Werner Baumbach
      Blog Post Author

      Very true points. I have seen that live on several occasions. A while ago we were seeing a friendly match against Manchester City, and for whatever reason the estimate of necessary Bratwurst (or sausage) was dramatically too low. They were sold out by half-time. Running out of Bratwurst is almost as bad as running out of beer or having to serve warm beer, because the cooling died.

      I think the interesting trend in Analytics is the addition of more advanced predictive, simulation and forecasting elements. The challenge is always the anomalies, because you cannot forecast them well with historical data. Of course it would not be an anomaly, if you could forecast it easily. So I think the game-changer can be to plan and simulate various scenarios, not only the most likely one. So when things happen differently than initially assumed, it is easier to set things in motion to react to the new situation.

      If a Wholesale company has that sort of preparation at hand (kind of like military operational plans), it will be exactly those extraordanary situations that will enable them to offer superior customer service.

      A few years ago when we had a heat-wave summer going on for several weeks a lot of Retailers ran out of water and cold drinks. Companies had not been prepared for this sort of situation and could not turn around quickly.