The Future of Analytics: How to Make Sense of Data and Mitigate Business-Critical Risks


By using new forms of databases and machine learning algorithms, real-time data processing capabilities, and the development of self-service analytics and data marketplaces, SAP enables customers to base decisions on intelligent data-driven insights.

Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch: the classic five senses of humans allow us to experience the world around us, with our nervous system receiving and processing huge amounts of information and relaying signals to the brain in order to react with the world. It is almost impossible to say how much data the human brain receives and processes on a daily basis. At best, one can specify a lower limit of perhaps around 1,000 gigabytes.

Humans not only process but also generate data in abundance. How many Instagram Stories did you click through last night before falling asleep in bed? How much time did you spend on different news portals? Just one more episode of “Stranger Things” on Netflix? The list goes on and on.

Navigating the Data Jungle

Companies struggle with this too and collect and analyze more data than ever before. Not without reason, data is referred to as the new gold. The way to increased profitability and competitive advantage by means of intelligent data usage seems to be a rocky one. Using the sheer amount of data to its full advantage remains a challenge.

At SAP, we want to help our customers navigate the data jungle, regardless of infrastructure and where the data is saved. For 50 years, SAP has been storing, processing, and analyzing innumerable amounts of customer data. Building on these strong data management capabilities, we want customers to be able to base all their decisions on intelligent, data-driven insights with easily accessible business data — when and where they matter the most.

Our ambition is a clear shift from the current state of analytics to the future, which means that we see the future of analytics as autonomous, hence always learning and monitoring; proactive, in order to provide solutions and alternatives to problems that haven’t even been discovered yet; and personalized, meaning that insights are contextualized and can be provided per desired medium or experience preference.

Bringing Future Technologies to Customers Today

While we envision a true system of intelligence in the future, SAP is already demonstrating value for customers today. SAP Innovation Center Network is exploring multiple key technologies to help customers capitalize more on data and boost productivity to stay competitive in the long run.

Businesses are constantly in motion, and data continues to grow in size, complexity, and velocity. “Laura,” a risk manager at a company that evaluates the potential risks of a business and strategizes preventive measures, needs to be able to monitor standard KPIs via dashboards and constantly adapt them to catch trends and patterns or anomalies — at least it should be that way.

Today, however, autonomous, proactive, and personalized tools are needed to automate business monitoring and proactively identify and report relevant signals in data.

To address this need, we built a prototype of a self-learning, easy-to-integrate cloud service that continuously monitors business data for anomalies and proactively delivers actionable insights to risk managers like Laura in real time. We call this continuous intelligence, and by integrating it into her day-to-day operations, Laura can spend less time exploring data and can detect unknown yet critical signals without manual intervention. She can also filter anomalies by relevance to receive critical signals, ultimately helping to get insights faster and react accordingly — before the business is impacted.

With all information at hand, the system can autonomously propose a response in real time, such as, “Hey Laura, something is going wrong, and here are a few proposals on what you can do.” This is made possible by what-if scenarios enabled by the business decision simulator. It helps her autonomously consider multiple scenarios, simulate their outcomes, and offer recommendations for the next steps. For example, instead of relying on the usual measures, she might be shown alternative approaches that she had not thought of before but that would solve the problem even faster.

By providing holistic impact analysis and autonomous identification of what-if scenarios, Laura can better plan ahead and react quicker to uncertainties with data-driven insights. Optimized recommended actions that are aligned with company priorities and constraints allow her to recognize and mitigate risks early on — and decide on actions with confidence.

Like most of us, Laura is a visual person who processes images much faster than text. No wonder visualizing data in an easy-to-understand form has also become a trend in analytics. Thanks to their length of just a few seconds, short videos have evolved into the dominant format for sharing and receiving updates and notifications. Consuming information like you would consume content in social apps helps professionals like Laura capture vast chunks of complex data and become the one-stop shop for business insights in the future.

SAP is bringing such short-form videos to the enterprise. With automatically generated personalized content, concise stories deliver key insights about the business in a short, animated, and convenient format. Video data stories provide customers with a one-stop channel for timely notifications, digests, and alerts about business-critical events. It automatically translates real-time business insights into self-explaining audio-visual data stories, making it easier for Laura to make decisions.

Effective business processes depend on intelligent decisions with insights from data in the organization and beyond its networks. SAP’s vision is to infuse these data-driven insights into every decision-making process. This would be possible with AI-powered, lightweight, self-service analytics that seamlessly integrate into the day-to-day work routines of business users, blending human ingenuity and data-driven insights into context-rich, fact-based decision-making processes.

Automation and data contextualization are key trends shaping the future of analytics, requiring an evolution from the current state of analytics to the future of analytics being autonomous, proactive, personalized, and reinventing business decisions as a service.  SAP is a reliable partner to anticipate that change, drive innovation, and help our customers prepare for the future.

Data is the new gold of every enterprise. If you also want to base your decisions on intelligent data-driven insights in the future, you can become part of SAP’s innovation journey and get in touch with us. Customer feedback is key to solving real pain points in the data and analytics space and we would be delighted to co-innovate and solve your data challenges together.

Martin Heinig is head of New Ventures and Technologies at SAP.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.