Interview with Hau Ngo
Business Intelligence Architect
You have an extensive resume of success in helping corporate teams with their business processes. I appreciate the range of project delivery options you provide to your clients. So, if you could, tell us about the products Summerlin Analytics is releasing.
Of course! The SAP BW on HANA project delivery is where we spend the majority of our time. However, we have found that the “Solutions Audit” package is where our clients receive the highest return-on-investment. The turn-around times for this service is roughly one week. Here are two examples; one strategic in nature and another that goes deep in a technical rabbit hole.
This first example is one that I love to share. A location devices company in California invested three-quarters of the previous year building a reporting solution that produced irregular and unreliable information. To make matters worse, this client had to re-process their data each week (during the weekends) in order for their reports to reflect “accurate” numbers. After an initial consultation, I outlined a different but robust solution that their developers were able to implement within one week. One of the best compliments that I have received was from this client who said, “This is exactly what we needed 8-months ago.”
The second example is a highly technical article that I sent to readers of my blog, showing how a simple tweak saved a semiconductor company about 90 minutes in wasted processing times each day. Here’s a link to that article along with the steps to replicate the solution – From 70 to 4 minutes: How I Performance-Tuned 3 Long-Running Transformations.
Give us an example of the companies who would be interested in these products?
Supply Chain customers who have been on SAP platform for less than 5 years generally do not have the analytics to identify key business metrics nor do they have the process in place to enforce purchasing compliance. Such companies would benefit greatly from our library of solutions that we have built for similar customers.
Could you tell us your initial lessons learned from working with the HANA system?
I would say that education was one of the more surprising challenges. Although HANA was announced near the end of 2011, most clients that I spoke to at that time had a wait-and-see approach. The situation, fortunately, started to turn around with the release of BW 7.4 in 2014. Those same customers are making upgrade plans for 2016–2017.
Still, finding quality resources with BW on HANA experience is relatively difficult and I find myself educating my team on the new concepts and approaches to data modeling. For example, infocubes are no longer essential as data containers at the reporting layer. Of course, that is unless you need write-back functionality in the case of Integrated Planning (IP) or Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC). We no longer need infocubes because the underlying technology for BW on HANA does away the need for dimensional data modeling such as the star or snowflake schema. That’s because the data is stored in-memory as opposed to the disk-based solutions, which is more time intensive. Also, the new modeling constructs such as Composite Providers, Advanced DSOs, Open ODS Views, allow developers to “model” a new solution in a matter of hours instead of days. I expect the knowledge and skills gap to close within the next two years. In the meantime, I plan to advocate a more efficient way of working with BW on HANA and to educate anyone who may listen on SAP’s (but unfortunate misnomer) new Layered Scalable Architect (LSA++).
If people want to start learning more about HANA, where do you suggest they start?
I highly recommend watching the Open SAP course SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA by Marc Hartz and Ulrich Christ. Marc and Ulrich covers the new concepts in great detail and I find their dry, German humor hilarious. If you’re already familiar with classic BW, then I recommend downloading the videos and watching it at 1.5x speed on your favorite video player (here’s a good one: VLC ).
What do you consider the most exciting innovations (solutions, products…) of SAP product space or in analytics functionality?
I’m very excited to see improvements to the SAP Lumira product line. Customers who had previously chosen competing data discovery tools such as Tableau (more features) are now running into integration issues. I’m curious to see how SAP plays catch-up to these market leaders. Also, we are no longer limited by the classic data modelling constraints for customers with BW on HANA.
On the flip side, I’m interested in seeing how SAP approach the next generation of analytical issues of delivering large amounts of data to the casual user and in a quick and intuitive manner.
How can we find Hau? Will you be at any upcoming conferences?
When I’m not heads down in project work, you can find my updates on our company blog, Summerlin Analytics. There’s also LinkedIn for the occasional photo from ASUG chapter meetings or SAP conferences. Speaking of which, if you ever find yourself in Fabulous Las Vegas for a SAP conference, then there’s good chance that I’ll be there too. The Las Vegas strip is only 20 minutes from my house and I’m always looking for an excuse to reconnect with colleagues. Just send me an email.
What inspired you to start your Double Your Kicking Power blog?
Wow. You’re good. I don’t think I had mentioned that website. “Double Your Kicking Power” is aimed at the beginning to intermediate kickboxing or martial arts member. Think of your friends who joined an “I Love Kickboxing” studio or their kids who may be enrolled in their first two-years of Tae Kwon Do. Because I taught Tae Kwon Do about 20 years ago (as a way to pay for college), I can break down complex movements into simple concepts. Friends and classmates would ask for advice and I found that I could consistently double their kicking (and punching) power in about 5–10 minutes. Along the way, someone suggested that I write a few articles to share my advice and here we are with DoubleYourKickingPower.com.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Yes, we are expecting a second boy in May 2016. Life is going to be crazy.
What was the last book you read?
The Brain Audit: Why consumers buy (and why they don’t) by Sean D’Souza is the book I’m currently reading. I highly recommend it to other solo-preneurs who are looking to smooth out the feast-and-famine project cycle.