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Author's profile photo Irfan Khan

The Next Chapter: Turning Data into a Superpower

Today marks a new chapter in my career with SAP. I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been chosen to lead the SAP HANA database and analytics team, and I am extremely excited to start working with the team that has been behind some of the most impactful and innovative solutions in the enterprise software market.

In 2020, our customers saw seismic shifts in their business due to Covid-19.  Businesses were forced to move sales online, supply-chains were disrupted, and organizations were suddenly managing a remote workforce overnight. Seventy percent of executives expect the pandemic to accelerate the pace of their digital transformation – organizations that once planned to have their digital transformation journey span across a few years have accelerated their roadmap rapidly, wanting to transform into an intelligent enterprise in a matter of months or weeks.

Invaluable lessons

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in both sales and product development in my career. I began my career at Sybase. There, I gained a decade of development experience and eventually was appointed Chief Technology Officer. When SAP acquired Sybase in 2010, I entered the sales world, where I worked closely with customers to help solve their challenges.

Five years ago, I started off leading the Go-To-Market (GTM) and sales efforts with the SAP database portfolio, then adding cloud platform and finally combining analytics. It has been a privilege to serve as President of Platform of Technology over the past two years, I have learnt a lot, and some customers have turned into lifelong friends.

I’m excited to bring my unique experience in GTM and sales in my return to product development. Working with customers and partners and hearing their feedback has been invaluable, and I fully intend on continuing to have open, honest conversations with them as we take our world class products to the next level of innovation.

Getting Value from Data

The best products should always solve a customer’s problem. This is more than a slogan – it’s smart business. To build great products, you need to understand customers’ pain points and listen carefully to their feedback. SAP has long understood the value of customer-focused product development, which is why in my sales role prior, I had an integral role in shaping our database and analytics strategy with my good friend and former colleague, Gerrit Kazmaier. Together we crafted an “end-to-end” plan from GTM to product development, covering both commercialization and functional value, designed to help organizations transform digitally and turn data into a superpower.

Harnessing data as a superpower requires a comprehensive understanding of data value creation. The three key data value drivers are captured in the data value formula: data volume, data quality, and data usage.

Data%20Value%20Formula

Data Value Formula

Data volume: How is data collected and stored. The more relevant data an organization can store, the more opportunities they have to create value.

Data Quality: Good data is important; it represents a meaningful concept that can be trusted by the processes that need it.

Data usage: how to extract richness from the data chain such that it provides meaningful business value.

Independently, each aspect of the data value formula is important, however, when the three are unified, a business’ data becomes a superpower. This end-to-end understanding of data value creation underpins our unified data and analytics strategy and the SAP Business Technology Platform.

Unifying Data and Analytics

Data landscapes can be complex and highly volatile with vast amounts of data being collected. However, we live in a time when customers need simplicity and agility. With more solutions, more data, and more sources, some organizations are struggling to make use of their data, often leading to a ‘data swamp’. By unifying data and analytics with SAP Analytics Cloud, we can not only alleviate complexity but give much-needed context to data and ensure the data is providing business insight.

The database, data management, and analytics solutions of the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) are dedicated to turning data into business value. The BTP’s strong integration capabilities were designed with customers in mind, allowing customers to turn to one suite of applications for end-to-end support across all lines of business.

Building for the Future

SAP’s prospect of helping our customers and partners derive value from data is enormous. To grasp the opportunity, we need clear focus and a continuation of organically creating best in class cloud -native products and solutions.

As I embark on my new role, I know we have the technology in place to help customers succeed and most importantly, we have the BEST team to make true innovation happen. I’m fully committed to making this a reality. I look forward to returning to a familiar yet exciting role with product development.

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      Author's profile photo Roland Kramer
      Roland Kramer

      Hello Irfan, see my Blog - SAP (Sybase) IQ – the hidden treasure …

      Best Regards Roland

      Author's profile photo Peter Koslowski
      Peter Koslowski

      Congrats to your nomination and thank you for the insightful blog.  I have enjoyed the simplicity with which you have connected dots of a very complex subject for me. Look forward to contributing from the partner ecosystem perspective!

      Best Regards, Peter