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In the past 2 years I have been involved with managing a number of HANA projects.  Each implementation brings something new that can have a significant positive impact on the organization moving forward with this technology.


In one instance we were engaged for a pilot project at a large global equipment manufacturer. Check out my video for a quick overview of this customer project:


Below is a more detailed summary of this customer project.


Customer Challenges:

Each piece of the equipment the client produced consisted of literally thousands of options for how it would ultimately be manufactured.  To date, they had almost a billion sales records with most of the product details plugged into a few, very large, and unformatted text fields. Two off their customers could order nearly identical pieces of equipment and the data in these text fields could be formatted completely different.  As a result, the client didn’t know what common elements were used in manufacturing each piece of equipment, or if some parts (options) were more profitable to include than others.  They key for them was to gain a better understanding of the common ‘combinations’ of these parts. They felt they had the data, but could not find a way to convert it into actionable insights.

Utilizing SAP HANA to solve their problems:

The team came in and began analyzing the source data to see how the unstructured data could be parsed into useable information. With the key information randomly loaded into 50,000 character text fields, it was a real challenge to make sense of it, especially when they wanted to compare this data to similar data on other sales records. Logic needed to be developed to parse each word in each field and then look for in other records – add it a very high volume of records and it would be serious performance issue each time it ran if typical databases were used.  With SAP HANA, an environment was created where this information could be processed very quickly.


One challenge with developing reports on large volumes of data is that there can be too much data for any one person to analyze.  To address this, a series of Xcelsius dashboards and WEBI drill down reports were developed.  High level summary reports allowed users to drill down to specific materials, or even specific transactions.  Information could be analyzed by regions, by models, by their customer types, etc.


Information was even made available to work with directly from PowerPoint presentations via Live Office – which they could access from their iPad! 🙂

Results:

This wasn’t just an example of crunching big numbers faster than an existing process… the HANA solution provided them insight to information they never had before! The customer was excited by the prospect of utilizing this information to transform their current way of doing business.  As a result, they could consider options for building intermediate products (semi-complete) with components that their customers commonly requested together. This would enable opportunities for a faster “order to completion” process.

This pilot project was just the tip of an iceberg for the customer as they were already thinking of all the other information they wanted leverage with HANA analytics, and how it could have rippling impacts throughout their organization. Today, this client currently uses SAP HANA on a wide range of applications.

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