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Bilafer’s BHAG: Of Analytics, Race Cars and Metallic Lavender Trench Coats

Fork in the Road is a song from one of my favorite groups Alma Desnuda.

Their music has been described as “California acoustic soul”, and the soulful chorus of the title has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks, especially as I prepared for the March 14 SAP Forum in Delhi and now for the one coming up in Mumbai next week on April 23. I keep reflecting on one line in particular that hits home: 

That path is yours, even if sometimes it’s a bothersome chore

Cause you’ve been blessed or cursed with the ability to choose.”

What does this have to do with Analytics, and why should you come to the SAP Forum in Mumbai, or one of our other Forums in APJ this year?

Companies today are at a fork in the road. The rate of change is faster than ever, and nowhere is that more true than in Asia-Pacific Japan. There’s a shift happening with Analytics that’s enabling companies to capitalize on new technologies to really transform the way they do business and compete in this changing landscape. This requires businesses to make a conscious choice to do things differently.

Analytics today are moving to the core of the business. And, they are becoming increasingly predictive. That means businesses need to go beyond using analytics descriptively, to look backwards at what happened and start thinking about how they can use them to look forward. They need to think about how they can use analytics to put more information in the hands of business users—giving them relevant, meaningful information that lets them ask a question, get an answer, make a decision and move forward.

We do this all the time in the consumer world—just think about everything you can do with a Google search box. You don’t have to pore over some massive amount of data – the experience is simple yet empowering. Increasingly, users expect to have the same experience at work. With Predictive Analytics, they can.

This means adopting a new mindset about the way we approach Analytics projects – moving from “let me take this existing Excel spreadsheet and automate it” to “let me see how I can take the information I have and add value to the business”. 

It requires businesses to be bold, think big, and think beyond their own four walls. With today’s Analytic capabilities you can enrich your internal transactional data with outside data to improve quality and relevance to enable better decision making.  This is the value of Big Data.

Consider how these examples of how some SAP customers are using Predictive Analytics solutions that combine internal data sources with external information to deliver relevant, actionable information to the end user in real time:

Predictive pit stops

In Formula 1 racing, every second counts. McLaren Group is one of the most technologically savvy teams out there. Their cars are outfitted with sensors to monitor temperatures, gear changes, tire and fluid pressures, brake wear, acceleration, and host of other indicators. This data is crunched in real time with SAP HANA and run against predictive models for specific cars and historical data from over 300 races, enabling the race team to predict when the car needs to head to the pits, tires need changing or brakes need replacement. But what happens if the car takes a hit from a competitor? How will that affect performance? Should the car speed up, slow down or come in for service? Predictive Analytics provides the answers, and a competitive advantage.  Checkout the YouTube Video. You don’t have to be a racing fan to enjoy it.

The perfect lavender metallic trench coat

Iconic British luxury brand Burberry uses a combination of real time, historical and social media data to create a retail experience that’s a throwback to the days when shopkeepers knew their customers intimately. Burberry’s frequent shopper card contains a chip that recognizes cardholders as they enter the store. The store manager gets a notification on their mobile device, along with the customer’s name and shopping history.  Relevant social media data is pulled in as well. With this information, sales associates can greet customers by name and suggest items based on their preferences and lifestyle, what pieces they already own and what the new trends are. Burberry CTO John Douglas gives all the details in this entertaining video.

Improved quality of life for cancer patients

Japanese company MKI co-develops an application that analyzes cancer genomes—which contain a huge amount of data–to identify mutations. The solution lists drugs capable of curing diseases caused by the specific mutation.  Outcomes are far better than with generic drug regimens, and the impact of this is life altering for the patient, as doctors can make these recommendations in days, not months.  This is a great example of re-thinking the normal process and leveraging technology to solve this very complicated problem. Check out this inspiring video.

These examples show how advanced Analytics uses your data and data from outside your transactional system to solve very specific use case or scenario.

How can your business use Analytics to add value to data you already have and gain a competitive edge? Join me and other customers and experts for a day of exploration and learning at the SAP Forum in Mumbai on April 23 or Manila on June 5.  Check out the calendar for all APJ Forum events here.

Follow me, @bilafer, @SAPAnalyticsAPJ, on Twitter and join the conversation around #SAPAPJ

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