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From Decision Assistance to Decision Making: The Power of Prediction

From the beginning of humanity, people were looking for gateways to know what lies ahead, for cosmic information or super-highways to understand what the future holds. This desire has carried on and that’s how predictive and machine learning algorithms came to life. We’ve learned to rely on things like our phones telling us exactly what the weather will be or our GPS telling us exactly how long it will take us to get to work based on the traffic and construction. We even rely on predictive analytics to detect when there might be fraudulent activity on our credit cards (this one is a double edge sword as you may have experienced yourself while traveling). But what about our businesses? How are we scoring KPI’s related to chance of opportunity’s conversion, payment expectation  or even forecasting revenues and sales? Undoubtably, the large enterprises are doing this already, but can my small to midsize business benefit from it as well? It can and it will.

Currently the functionality of the Predictive Analysis Library (PAL) is already integrated at no extra cost in HANA v2.0 database used by SAP Business ByDesign. However, you might rightfully say, that’s of no added value if it’s not accessible and consumable in the ByDesign. We really take pride in the user experience and we are working now to bring the power of PAL to the front-end of your ERP of choice, SAP Business ByDesign. We want to make it it easier to define and easier to adapt it to your individual business needs. But wait, there’s more! By using the provided predictions, recommendations and classifications provided by PAL as triggering conditions for your Approval Workflow, you can allow the system to automatically approve purchase orders, employee vacation and any other workflows when the confidence level of the prediction/recommendation is higher than a limit set by the business user and only manually review those which deviate from the standard. This is what we call Management and Decision by exception coming in the next level Intelligent Enterprise for SME.

The Baker Benefits… Again

If you had the chance to read my last blog post on Intelligent Business Document Processing, you might remember our friend the baker. They’ve been able to spend more time doing what they love – baking cakes, exploring their creativity, and creating deeper relationships with their customers. But there’s a problem. Although they’ve already saved hours of time by automating the way they are inputting data from pdfs and emails, they still need to approve all of the purchase orders along with other things like employee vacations and travel requests. But what if they didn’t?

This is where Decision Assistance/ Making comes in to play. During our conversation, Simona Marincei put it like this:

“Every single month you order 100 kilos of flour and now your ERP can recommend with high probability the approval of such purchase orders every month. However, one month someone orders 150 or 200 kg. Why? The system will look into this and say, “I’m not really sure you will approve this so maybe you want to take a look before making a decision.”. Without this you need to do all of the repetitive work manually.”

As the user, you will have the ability to set a confidence level for various business scenarios. When the system goes to execute a workflow and the confidence level is over the designated amount, it will automatically execute that action. Otherwise, it will present this workflow to you and let you take a decision. This means that the system can take control of the menial tasks that are preventing you from diving deeper into your business.

Partners Get a Piece of the Pie

Partners are a crucial part of the SAP ecosystem and this is especially true in the SMB space. Partners are the direct connection from SAP to SMBs and we aim to give partners the flexibility and opportunity to innovate and create customer-centric solutions for SMBs. Through the ByDesign UI, partners can adapt or create their own predictive business scenarios based on the needs of the individual customer or for different industry verticals.

The needs of the midsize bakery chain are different than the textile wholesaler down the street. They probably need Decision Assistance /Making for completely different things and this is where partners can come in and steal the show. The baker might need a solution to automate the order of ingredients to keep the bakery stocked at all times. The wholesaler might need a solution that automatically accepts purchase orders based on the level of inventory and predicted sales forecast. We provide the framework; partners provide the specialized solution.

What’s Next?

Decision Making might seem quite daunting at first but make no mistake, you are in control. Through the recommendations that the system provides you through decision assistance and your requirements, you set on what (and to which level)the system should take action. Simona said it best, “As a manager you should only focus on the things that make a difference in the market. For the mundane things like approving 100 kilos of flour a month, they shouldn’t be of your concern. This should free up time for the busiest people like managers to focus on the far more creative parts of the business.”.

Next week we’ll be discussing the Next Generation User Experience and how chat bots are here to help your business run smoothly. Make sure to check it out!

We are building a great community where those involved with SMBs can ask questions, find answers, and share their thoughts and ideas! Join the community today! Make sure to check it out and follow the page here.

Questions related to small to medium size businesses? Don’t hesitate to ask anything (Directly related to SAP or not) here.

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