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Transcript of Ashish Sahu’s interview with Mary Windishar on the core components of a modern analytics platform.   Ashish introduces the different advanced analytics topics like Predictive, Text & Spatial processing and gives examples of how businesses are leveraging these capabilities to infuse extra I.Q. into their decision-making.

MARY: Here today to discuss advanced analytics and its impact on today’s rapidly changing businesses landscape is Ashish Sahu, of SAP’s Product Technology Organization. 

Ashish has more than 10-years of experience launching web and mobile applications at Amazon, CheckPoint and Motorola. Prior to SAP, he founded a data science startup; Wazaap Inc. Ashish has an MBA from Haas School of Business, Berkeley and Masters in Information Systems from IIM India.

Can you tell us, Ashish, what is Advanced Analytics?

ASHISH: Advanced Analytics refers to using quantitative methods such as statistics, mathematical algorithms and stochastic processes for identification of meaningful patterns among structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.

Unlike traditional analytics that is used to create reports and dashboards to uncover insights in their firm’s data, AA is used to uncover nonobvious insights or predict future outcomes using large volume of data & variety data sources usually administered by data scientists.

Traditional analytics tends to be descriptive or diagnostic, helps to understand what happened and why it happened and is akin to looking in the rear-view mirror to see what’s going on. AA gives helps you understand what will happen and how we can make it happen.

“Advanced Analytics means different things to different people, you will hear a lot of industry and technology centric terms to describe these capabilities – Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Spatial Intelligence, Graph processing, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science. This technology is making everything we do smarter infusing it with some extra I.Q whether it is something as mundane as spam filtering or navigating driverless cars.”

MARY: So why is Advanced Analytics important for companies? Why now?

ASHISHFirst let me start by saying that we are in an era of unprecedented change fueled by technology and hyper-connectivity.

“If in the Industrial revolution technology helped humans overcome the limitations of our muscle power —- in this age, we’re overcoming the limitations of our mental capacity by infinitely multiplying it by digital technologies.”

You may say that lot of these algorithms existed since the 1970s so what’s new. The progress of Advanced Analytic technologies has been slow and gradual for decades now but it has been growing exponentially, layer by layer.  There the “coming of age” of 3 big innovations which have unleashed this long-awaited arrival of data science in the world today:

1. The massive digitizations of the world and the instrumentation consequent to the IoT creating massive amount of structured, unstructured, and binary data. 2. Technological breakthroughs like In-Memory computing & Cheap parallel computation which can harness this large volume and complexity of data

3. The velocity of business. Businesses are seeking deeper insights from this data at their disposal —whether they are about marketing, sales, operations, or the lines of business — at a quickening pace., going beyond the traditional reporting and ad-hoc analytics .

We have seen these data-driven companies leverage these technologies to disrupt the market to deliver new products and services to consumers and businesses. You are seeing innumerable examples where companies have redefined the product itself.

e.g. AirBnB has redefined the Hotel industry as an accommodation problem, Uber redefined the taxi industry as transportation one

These disruptors approach the problem as a resource-optimization and an analytics project rather than a capital expense project. I can’t think of a corner of the business world that is immune to this astonishing technological disruption….even top large global enterprises.

Technology is Getting Faster, Smarter. Are You?

However the bitter reality is that only 10% of companies use advanced analytics. The others are shackled by the very systems that promised to liberate them. Insidious complexities inherent with plumbing disparate technologies. These excruciatingly slow system running on technologies created in the 20th century and a lack of data-driven culture is preventing these companies from “living in the future”

MARY: So how does SAP offer Advanced Analytics technologies to their customers?

ASHISHAccordingly to all the top analysts in the industry, SAP is one of the few companies which provide a complete portfolio of offerings for your advanced analytic needs.

Why is that important? We know that different companies and different departments in the same companies not only have different business needs but also have different levels of maturity of their analytical processes. Hence it is important to pick the right tool to fit your needs.


“Technology should be an enabler — allowing you to focus on critical processes — instead of being an inhibitor or a bottleneck.  It is also not fruitful if these critical processes are held together by duct-tape…you need robust systems and a simplified landscape to reduce TCO.”

SAP has a wide variety of offerings depending your business needs:

Tools: SAP Predictive Analytics with SAP Infinite Insight tool

Analytic Service Providers: SAP Data Science Team

Packaged Applications: SAP Predictive/Big Data Rapid Deployment Solutions, Customer Engagement, Fraud Management


If they can’t afford the overhead of a general purpose tool, then the customer can build their own Custom Applications. Now all of these run on SAP HANA, SAP’s flagship in-memory platform.

Let me briefly describe what SAP HANA AA is and how it is different from other offerings in the competitive landscape.

SAP HANA Advanced Analytics provides powerful in-database analytics on the scalable, massively parallel in-memory platform that can quickly process large volumes to deliver new insights. In addition, SAP HANA Advanced Analytics allows integration of built-in analytics with both SAP and 3rd party analytic tools to meet the needs of all users — from data scientists and business users to application developers.

SAP HANA Advanced Analytics Highlights include:

High-performance:

Companies can run powerful in-database analytics leveraging SAP HANA’s Massively Parallel Processing and In-memory columnar storage architecture

In-database & In-memory:

Companies can SQLScript to execute data-intensive analytics natively on the platform to reduce application-to-database round trips; Reduce Decision Latency: The more you reduce the latency of a decision, the more you increase it’s value”.

Multi-engine query processing environment:

Perform predictive, text, spatial and graph by combining a variety of data — from relational to unstructured text data to location data on the same platform.

Simple:

Bring it to a broad spectrum of users from data scientists to Business Analysts and to Application developers. Operationalize Advanced Analytics to embed it in your business processing at the point of decision-making.

Enterprise-ready Platform:

Finally delivering on an open enterprise-ready platform, SAP HANA, with support for not just SAP but also 3rd-party and open-source tools and apps.

MARY: Can you give some examples?  How are customers using this technology?

ASHISH: Customer are using these capabilities in a wide variety of industries and line of business roles like operations, real-estate planning, supply chain management, regulatory compliance, finance, marketing, customer service, legal.

From SAP’s customers, we can discern that they fall into following 3 scenarios:

Control. Compliance, security, fraud detection, and risk management requirements are driving demand for software ranging from reporting tools to analytic applications.

Optimization. Cost cutting and efficiency gains are enabled by greater insight into ongoing operations and evaluation of historical trends.

Innovation. Visual discovery tools, advanced analytics, and Big Data technologies are being used to enable experimentation that leads to new products and services.

“Two functions stand to gain the most from adopting its concepts: customer service and marketing. To be honest, almost every group is using advanced analytics in some form or the other to improve their decision-making.”

MARY: With all the benefits, are there any challenges?

ASHISH: Pablo Picasso once said “I hate computers. They only give me answers.” The same holds true for algorithms…you still have to ask the right question!

MARY: How would recommend someone get started with Advanced Analytics today?

ASHISH: I’d recommend going to hana.sap.com/usecases/analytics or talk to your SAP Account Executive to get more details.

Links: http://hana.sap.com/usecases/analytics

Twitter: @metalsahu

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