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Author's profile photo Christina Grace

Data as a Competitive Advantage

Data can yield one of the most competitive advantages for businesses today.  But data can be overwhelming.  Having data run amok can be very detrimental to a company.  And trying to reign it in and make use of it without an intelligent system in place is like herding cats.  It cannot be done and you might get bit trying!

So where do you start?  The good news is that efficient use of data is the most effective way to accelerate value for your company.  But you must do it wisely.  Focus on things that matter.  Don’t focus on too many elements of data, rather, prioritize that which gives you the most bang for your buck.

Let’s face it, data can be extremely costly.  Simplifying and standardizing data sourcing and consumption will improve data quality.  According to McKinsey, “These efforts can cut annual data spend by 5 to 15 percent in the short term. Longer term, companies can nearly double that savings rate by redesigning and automating core processes, integrating advanced technologies, and embedding new ways of working. To get these benefits, here are the four things that leaders need to do.”


The problem many companies have when they embark on cleansing data is that they try to deal with too much at one time.  The best way to accelerate value is to review data relationships at a broad level across the entire organization and fix what will maximize value to the total organization.  Look at deviations from standard that may be due to broken data or a lack of visibility to one or many parts of the organization that maximize revenue generation or cost containment.  Harmonization is not about making it all the same, it is about making it work for the part or parts of the organization that is using it in a meaningful way.

That’s all well and good, but how do I do that?

Your employees can spend an inordinate amount of time mining data if it is not simplified and standardized.  Furthermore, they may waste time cleansing data if proper governance controls are not robust. They also may spend time producing meaningless, unused reports.  Ask yourselves what decisions am I using this data to make?  Where is my data stored and is my data at the right level of granularity?  The answers to those questions will help you prepare a roadmap for success.

The role of analytics delivered by Finance is not about reporting, it’s about delivering the right data insight, to the right person, at the moment of decision, to impact profitability.  Redesigning data-gathering processes, automating, and reinventing models and data visualization can dramatically improve the use of the data you care most about.  Technological innovation, including automation, promotes the most efficient use of data.  Utilizing the intelligent enterprise creates and expands digital trust resulting in better decisions, increased system and people performance, and higher productivity through automation while lowering company TCO.  A company’s key to success is building the capability to determine which data is useful, prioritizing its usage, and building the infrastructure to produce that data in a simplified, understandable format.

And why should I do that?

Data quality helps connect customer and consumer insight.  Instantly available, real time data helps an organization to respond faster and more comprehensibly to challenges.  A single source of data also allows companies to tie strategy to execution – One story, One truth.  This provides you the opportunity to demonstrate to management and the Board the impact, to the lowest level, of their decisions.  This insight will be critical for determining winners and losers. Those who are successful in understanding their consumers’ behaviors will capture an oversized share of the market. Companies require intelligent, meaningful data to maximize information and take intelligent action on that information.  Using data wisely will help organizations secure their economic position while opening new avenues for growth.

SAP S/4HANA supports high-speed processing and analysis of big data volumes providing traceability and what-if simulation capabilities for advanced analytics with real-time information These capabilities can be used to prioritize the most important data.  Data efficiency at all parts of the organization significantly reduces cost and increases agility as follows:

  • Ability to drill-down into any profitability dimension with analytical and transactional data on the same real-time platform
  • Provides a flawless customer payment experience in the design of new digital business services
  • Manages comprehensive recurring revenue streams and customer-focused invoicing and billing
  • Trust-by-design with embedded controls, monitoring, and data protection
  • In-memory data platform that significantly increases the speed of operations and analytics


  • Improves decision-making with ability to analyze and break down costs and revenue down to lowest level of detail
  • Enables new business models with complex transactions pertained to usage-based revenue
  • Increases ability to move from a batch-oriented to a continuous, real-time finance paradigm
  • Prevents fraud and helps ensure customer privacy


SAP S/4HANA provides efficient, agile and transparent data usage as follows:

Why SAP?

At the heart of SAP S/4HANA is a completely new data platform powered by in-memory technology.  This combines practically unlimited real-time storage with incredibly fast processing time.  With SAP S/4HANA, you will be able to dramatically simplify the way your data is stored and utilized. More and more companies are taking a risk-based approach, driven by management and the board to focus on key components of data to improve revenue and cost management across the organization.

SAP S/4HANA accelerates the value derived from agile and efficient use of data through single source operations and analytics.  The intelligent enterprise helps companies prioritize a data analysis effort to remain focused on the key assets of the business that ensure success.

To learn more about SAP S/4HANA and how our customers are deriving value from efficient use of data, please see our latest publication Finance Leading in the Moment.

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