Another fortnight, another conference. This time, my travels had me North bound to Asia, Singapore to be more specific. I was fortunate enough to be invited by SAPinsider, the conference producers, who were holding their inaugural SCM conference in the Asia Pacific region. The great thing about the SAPinsider conferences, is that they will usually hold several conferences in parallel (same time – same location) and the ticket to one conference usually gives you access to all the other conferences as well as their off-line material: You are guaranteed to get bang for buck and be spoilt for choice in terms of the sessions you want to attend. This event was no exception to the rule : A ticket gave you access to Financials2014, BI2014, HANA2014, HR2014, GRC2014 and of course SCM2014.

The conference

The conference was held at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel conference centre. The conference centre is impressive in size and very easily accommodated the 700-800 attendees. As usual, the team from SAPInsider were on deck to make sure that things ran like clockwork and their organisation of the event was just awesome.

In terms of sessions, there were just too many great ones, to be able to talk about them all, so I will just pick my top three, not necessarily in order of preference.

Lessons to query, analyse, and visualise unstructured data with SAP HANA and SAP Lumira delivered by Clint Vosloo.

Clint had so much great content that we did not have enough time to get to the Lumira part! In his session, Clint demonstrated how easy it was to analyse unstructured data from which you can derive insights, using the text search and analysis capabilties of SAP HANA. In his example, he used social media feeds (twitter) to show how an organisation may want to analyse this unstructured data so as to do a sentiment analysis: How are consumers reacting to my brand or products? What was great about his session is that, as he says, it was very “nerdy” – i.e he actually showed and did some coding live – which I thought was great and refreshing to see. He demonstrated a complete workflow to highlight how you could tap into a social media feed, filter and extract the information you are looking for, transform it using rules, store it in HANA and then analyse it. I think that what he showed was the true power of the HANA platform – i.e it’s not just a database!

How big data shapes technology strategies and drives business transformation delivered by Timo Elliott.

Timo delivered two presentations. I wanted to go to both, but unfortunately his first session was running at the same time as mine. His second, which I went to, was running at the same time as another one I also wanted to go on the topic of TM-EWM integration delivered by Dominik Metzger from Westernacher (sometimes being spoilt for choice is not good!). In case you wanted to see Timo’s presentations, you can view them on his website by following this link. Timo explored Big data directions and the impact it his having on businesses and technology – which it seems is not always clear. As he puts it, a survey asked the question “what are the benefits from Big data initiatives”? 51% of respondents answered, “don’t know”. Timo of course had very interesting real live examples of how the available technology is currently used by companies such as Disney or Amazon.

Case Study:Tetra Pak’s Journey towards a self-service BI model delivered by Fredrik Ohlsson.

This is exactly the kind of session I like to go to – case studies from companies that relay their stories and it is even more appreciated when they share the good and the bad.I found Fredrik to be quite candid. Having disparate systems and processes, that were jeopardising the growth of the company, Tetra Pak embarked on a global transformation project. The delivery of a global BI solution was part of that transformation. Fredrik and his team, when they delivered that global BI solution thought that they had reached Nirvana and the company had a global BI reporting solution for years to come. Instead, what they found out, was that in fact there was an “analytics underground”. The business units were using their own solutions and more than 1000 reports that IT had no knowledge of. This of course was synonymous of duplication: Of data and costs. They remedied to that and today have a global BI solution, that is used by their businesses and supported by 80+ BI experts that sit with the businesses. Fredrik also said that mindsets need to change and that this project had required a huge change management effort. This is definitely a theme that too many organisations have for too long undercooked!

The venue

The venue that had been chosen was the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was awesome! that pool on the deck offers great views over Singapore and the new financial district.


Till next year !