Tech-Driven Business

Get ready to think differently about how technology driven solutions can lead to business success. Mustansir Saifuddin is the co-founder of Innovative Solution Partners. With a career that spans multiple industries and a variety of roles including a software quality assurance engineer to leading global teams and projects, he knows what it takes to fuse technology with what a business wants. Listen as he interviews tech experts, business experts, and visionaries on their successes, challenges, and lessons learned. We’ll cover everything from SAP and ERP focused solutions, to leveraging data analytics, to how to achieve your business goals with technology.

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Wednesday Oct 25, 2023

In this next series of Tech-Driven Business, Nick Verhoeven, Solution Manager for Planning & Analytics at SAP, joins Mustansir Saifuddin to discuss the power of SAP Analytics Cloud for Planning and how it integrates within the SAP landscape. Listen in as Nick dives into how planning is such a powerful addition to SAP Analytics Cloud. His main takeaway? "To do relevant planning, you want to make sure you understand your current state of the business, the latest trends, and have your analytics looking at the future using AI and predictions." 
The main purpose in Nick's role is to align the different functions within the company. Analyzing and reconciling these inputs to provide and position the best possible FP&A solution to facilitate optimal decisions through data. Customer engagements, analyst relations as well as supporting the internal controlling functions are the main drivers of the role that spark enthusiasm in Nick and steer the solution in the right direction. Nick’s discipline stemming from professional sports is his main strength, helping him drive enterprise engagements however sluggish processes might be.
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Nick Verhoeven, 
Mustansir Saifuddin,
Innovative Solution Partners,
X: @Mmsaifuddin
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:02.910] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this first episode of a multipart series, Nick Verhoeven, Solution Manager for Planning and Analytics at SAP, joins me to share how planning is such a powerful addition to SAP Analytics Cloud. It's all about how it integrates with your SAP landscape and beyond.
[00:00:28.300] - Mustansir Saifuddin
So joining me today is Nick Verhoeven, who serves as a Solution Manager for Planning and Analytics at SAP. Welcome to Tech-Driven Business, Nick. How are you?
[00:00:40.090] - Nick Verhoeven
Thank you, Mustansir. I'm quite well. It's been a good Monday so far, so happy to be here.
[00:00:45.620] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thank you. I'm glad to have you on our show. And this topic is very near and dear to me. I've been in planning and analytics for so many years, and really happy to have you as our guests and share your experiences, especially for our topic today. It's a three-part series. We are looking at kicking off this session, and we want to talk about what makes SAC planning such a powerful addition to SAP Analytics Cloud? How does that sound?
[00:01:16.710] - Nick Verhoeven
Well, I think that sounds great. I'm looking forward to it.
[00:01:20.500] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Awesome. Let's get into our topic then. I want to start with the basics. What sets apart SAP Analytics Cloud compared to other cloud-based tools in the market? There are so many tools. So I like to hear your perspective. What makes it so special?
[00:01:38.010] - Nick Verhoeven
So of course, I'm slightly biased, right? I love the product. I'm the solution manager for the product. But I do think there is something that is rather factual that really sets us apart. You ask about the market, so how do you define a market in general? And then what I'll be using is the Gartner MQs. The Gartner Magic Cloud runs Gartner is an analyst company and they make ratings of different software markets, if you will. What I think is rather defining, if you look at the way that SAP Analytics Cloud is positioned, is that we are represented in the business intelligence market, as defined by Gartner, but we are also, as the one and only vendor, also represented with the same product in the financial planning MQ. And that, I think, really sets us apart. And beyond that, if you look beyond just the solution SAP Analytics Cloud for Planning, I think the integration within an SAP landscape sets us apart. So it's the integration to our transactional systems, but also the integration to our business technology platform systems, which allows a wealth of data integrations and connections.
[00:02:54.070] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think that is the key piece over here, right? I mean, you just hit it on the head. So it seems like when you look around, especially when you're dealing with a cloud-based solution, a lot of times you're stuck with either one or the other solution. So what I'm hearing from you is it's really about bringing two technologies together in one platform, right? Is that basically what makes you think that this is a special tool that allows customers, especially when you're looking for a unified approach of doing things? So it seems like SAC is serving up both those areas from a customer standpoint, right?
[00:03:35.790] - Nick Verhoeven
I'd say so, and think about it. When you are going to do planning, you don't start from scratch. You want insight on where you are, where you're going. And this is where analytics and planning to me and also to SAP, of course, are a natural extension of each other and not something that should have been viewed in a silo.
[00:03:54.810] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. Now that makes a lot of sense. And so talking about from that angle, let's get into the details. When you look at from an SAP perspective, you're a little biased because you're working in that tool and you know the insights and what's really going on. When we move forward, SAP continues to enhance its analytics offerings. What do you wish customers knew about SAP that they may have overlooked? A lot of times a tool is out there, but there are certain insights that you may have that can help a customer get more out of their investment, basically.
[00:04:34.170] - Nick Verhoeven
I would say... We were discussing analytics and planning, but if I really focus on analytics, I think the main new addition, and people may have not overlooked it but haven't fully appreciated the capabilities that it brings, is what we call the unified story. This, in essence, means that we take the original object, that is the story where you could drag and drop self-service BI capabilities in there, and we combine that with the capabilities of the former artifact, which is the application designer. Here you could create very specific applications through scripting. Now, by combining these two, we allow in a single object to be present simple, low TCO way of building your analytics or planning input sheets for that matter. But the ability at any point in time extend that with scripting, if you so will. This is already quite interesting and relevant, but it's not the no point of return. At the point you've added scripting, you can close that again and give the object back to the user that might not be adapted to scripting, but the ability to maintain the object in itself, still remaining and retaining the lower TCO, but having the full flexibility to adjust the behavior of your analytical or planning object with specific scripting, I think that is unique to our platform in the way that we do it and has benefits for analytics as well as planning.
[00:06:09.730] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That is very interesting. So let me ask you a follow-up question on this. So that means that when you talk about application designer, you're talking about the ability from a programming standpoint, you can customize certain things and build an application around it. But when you bring in a user, a business user, who can leverage this object or development that is done by from the technical perspective and then bring in their data or their simple stories and have a single, unified approach of looking at information, right? I'm hearing it correctly?
[00:06:49.790] - Nick Verhoeven
I think you hear it completely correctly. Then we also productize that in a way with the recent addition of composites. Composites are reusable objects that will be released in our latest wave, and you'll see it in SAC three. But here what we have is basically script objects or regular objects that can be reused across many stories developed by a highly esteemed professional, but then can be reused across all of those stories. And then if you make an adjustment in such a composite, it will be adjusted in all of the stories, so really scaling out this combined capability across a very large user set.
[00:07:29.490] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, definitely. I think. And that brings value to the customer really many-folds, and that's what I'm hearing from you. So it's the benefit of using something that is being built and that is embedded, and then you're just extending it to a business user. So that's really awesome. Thank you for sharing that. So now let's get into our main conversation, why a customer, why any organization should consider planning capabilities of SAC? That's really the crux of why we have these two technologies put together in a single platform. So can you elaborate on that?
[00:08:10.120] - Nick Verhoeven
Yeah, definitely. So I'd say the recent world of turbulent change, and I say recent, but this is of all times, that things are changing around us and we have to deal with it. And I think the natural addition to planning is to start looking forward of where might we be going. If you don't know where you're going, you'll never end up there, right? Yeah. And this is where we're planning adds so much value if you combine that in a single platform. And I would never be one to judge. Every company has their own resourcing constraints and such. But I see all kinds of small planning projects popping up in our analytics user base where they have either a long-term strategic planning that they want to start with or workforce planning as they want to get the right talent at the right time. So small initiatives, and that will then be leading up to a larger enterprise planning deployment at a customer. But I think it is a natural extension to analytics and also where analytics can add so much more value because you have analytics and then put that into something actionable being a plan, which could be resource allocation.
[00:09:18.390] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. I think what I like in this example, you mentioned two things, right? One is a lot of times when you think of planning, you look at the bigger enterprise planning approach. But here you have the ability or the capability of doing something small and you need planning no matter what you're doing. It doesn't matter if you're working with your labor data or your HR planning versus your financial or your sales data. You have components of planning which can be pretty easily integrated into this platform.I think that's one of the things that a lot of customers  always think about planning as a separate component versus having it together in an easy-to-use fashion where they can leverage the analytics at the same time, add a component of planning depending on what they are working on. So it's a natural extension. So that brings me to a more of a personal question. You've been SAP for quite some time as a Solution Manager for planning analytics. What drives you to make this tool as a tool of choice for customers? What is your take on it?
[00:10:31.710] - Nick Verhoeven
If we boil it down to what is the reason for using this tool? It's all about decision making. I'm very passionate about the topic of decision making because it's so abundant in all of our lives because we make decisions all of the time. Where I have the tool myself personally, where I use it to have multiple scenarios of mortgage down payments, I have it for multiple scenarios of investments. I'm using drivers to also influence those investments and what would happen if, and that is my personal life. But then when I go out there with the customers, we have scenarios in the oil industry, we have the medical industry. We have so many different angles that you get to for planning and you have to get into quite a bit of specifics. This is what I really like. This is what I really love. Then on my day-to-day job, what I try to make sure is that I look at the solution not only as a great platform, but also something pragmatic that can help people in their day-to-day operation of making better decisions. And this is the analytics and planning that comes together, which I hold so dear.
[00:11:45.150] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, that makes sense. I think you hit it in the head on this one, especially when you think about how simple can it be versus how complex you want to make it, depending on your use case scenario, right? So it really helps to have this capability built-in where you already have information coming from your organizations, different platforms, and you're looking at more like an analytic solution using SAC, but then you push in this planning capability in that tool, and all of a sudden you got this all-rounded view of the organization, basically. That's pretty powerful. Now, so thinking ahead, we always talk about roadmaps and what is really coming next. And this is, I call it... I call it a two-part question. When you think about roadmap, what is there, from a business perspective, short term and long term, what is coming next that a customer should watch out for when you think about the roadmap for SAC?
[00:12:44.190] - Nick Verhoeven
Taking that twofold question, starting with the short term, I'd say there's many developments, right? But I'll make a focus point where short term and long term also meet each other. And if I look at the short term, I'd say API, API, API. What I mean with that is within the application itself, so the scripting that we were just talking about, we offer APIs there so that you can, through scripting, enhance versions, set up customized planning areas. That is a multitude of functionalities there that you can use through APIs. So basically opening up the system to be manipulated in any way that the customer could want. I'd say that's one of the major short-term developments that we have offered and are also enhancing. This is something that also comes together with our B2P offering. So the import and export API can be leveraged by our integration suite, which can then also make sure that the data from the data marketplace in SAP DataSphere rolls in as drivers into SAP Analytics Cloud for Planning, does its calculations. And then if you want to go to the execution side of things, the integration suite can take those APIs again, take that information and push it out to execution system so that you actually execute on your plan.
[00:14:03.470] - Nick Verhoeven
So that would be short term. Those APIs also offer a lot of perspective for the long term. So one of the statements that our major development leaders, so Matthias Kramer, has made is that artificial intelligence will come to each and every workflow of SAP Analytics Cloud. Now, the only way to make that work or have something that is effective through AI is to make sure that your application is offering all of the APIs for it to work. Just to give you an example, if you want to have something like asking your application to be built using scripts with certain functionalities, then you can ask the AI bot to write that. But that's only possible if the APIs are there, if it has the ability to create a version API, if it has the ability to trigger data actions. This is where it really meets each other. Just to give you an exciting perspective here, we internally have already developed bots that can generate entire applications, can also create queries, like we know from the pending just ask functionality, but the former search to insight functionality that's still there. But then going beyond that, also leveraging large language models to write a query and also ask AI to summarize.
[00:15:29.910] - Nick Verhoeven
What do we see in that query? What are the most profitable stores within my assortment? It's these two stores. Note, this one store is actually on the rise compared to the last time you asked. Those insights the AI bot can offer. I've seen internal demonstrations where we can already do it. We also have an external statement of direction on AI, where we also have some of those beta demos already visible because we're really committed to deliver on that.
[00:15:59.100] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That is so exciting. I mean, especially thinking being on the projects myself, I know that from a customer standpoint, this is really exciting stuff, especially when they're looking at how to maximize their investments, especially on a platform like SAC, and you mentioned a couple of other technologies where you bring in data from DataSphere and all these other surrounding BTP, et cetera, how they all make it so much useful and allow any organization, any business who is using these platforms to extend their value proposition to the end users. So definitely something exciting and really looking forward to having these short-term and long-term goals coming together and giving this tool a boost that it really can make decision making, especially when you talk about these analytical tools, the decision making is where you're looking at time to value, and how quickly can you make those things? I know we talked about a lot of different things. So coming to our closure, one thing that I always like to ask my guests is based on what we talked about so far, what is the one key takeaway that you want our listeners to leave today?
[00:17:22.400] - Nick Verhoeven
I'd say it's where we started. We spoke about what makes the platform special. In my mind, it's the presence in not only the analytics market, but also in the planning market, and with that also now with AI and predictive coming together. I think the most important thing is to not decouple these two elements, because to do relevant planning, you want to make sure you understand your current state of the business, the latest trends, and also having analytics looking at the future using AI and predictions, those are natural inputs to your actual plans, and those plans that need to turn into execution. It's so logical if you look at the plan to check X circle from Deming. There are so many things that always relate to these two are interrelated. And I think within a platform, they should also be interrelated. That's my main takeaway.
[00:18:24.480] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I think that is really powerful. Thank you for sharing that. And that's really what sets the whole application apart from so many other tools out there. And with that, I'd like to wrap our session. I do want to thank you for coming on to our show. I'm looking forward to our next conversation, which is all about planning and what makes SAC planning such a powerful tool. I'm looking forward to having that deep dive where... Especially when you look at all these things outside in the market, even from SAP, you have BPC, you have other competitor planning applications out there. We'll talk about more into a deeper perspective of what SAC planning can do and how will that be a game-changer for folks who are looking at planning as one of their additional analytics capabilities to be built into their platform. So looking forward to that. Thank you.
[00:19:23.910] - Nick Verhoeven
Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to that as well. Thank you Mustansir.
[00:19:26.590] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Nick shared valuable insights on the power of SAC planning. His main takeway? To do relevant planning, you want to make sure you understand your current state of the business, the latest trends, and have your analytics looking at the future using AI and predictions. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Tuesday Aug 29, 2023

In this next episode, Mustansir Saifuddin speaks with David C. Williams, Assistant Vice President-Automation at AT&T. David dives into how hyper-automation, specially RPA, and AI come together to effectively and efficiently make a business impact. It's not about choosing one over the other.  
During David's career with AT&T, he has created deep-link HTML marketing initiatives that garner 90 million monthly impressions, led Competitive Intelligence which helped shape AT&T's Mobile First strategy, has been responsible for supporting several Fortune500 companies encompassing $120M in revenue, and authored two patents for Reprogrammable RFID and bridging satellite and LTE technology. In his current role, David is responsible for hyper-automation & emerging technology to transform Customer/Employee Experience and Cost Structure for his organization. He leads the largest Robotics Process Automation program worldwide. His innovations are driving change across the company as his team has developed 600+ Bots automating 70M contacts, realizing $400M in operating income at over 3,000% ROI. Additionally, he also invented & sponsored a decision engine driving $200M credit reduction annually.
David is the 2021 Legacy Award recipient at Black Engineer of the Year STEM Global Conference, 2x Dream in Black winner, AT&T Champion of Diversity Award winner, a proud mentor of multiple Employee Groups, & Diversity Ambassador. David’s humble beginnings in the poorest corner of Dallas, TX, continual giving back through Solar Robot Workshops to the community, and rise through a corporate giant is encapsulated in his book entitled, Business Model. 
Continue the conversation on:
David C. Williams
Mustansir Saifuddin
Innovative Solution Partners 
Twitter: @Mmsaifuddin
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.
Show Notes:
[00:00:03.320] - Mustansir Saifuddin
[00:00:04.180] - Mustansir Saifuddin
To Tech-driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this episode, I welcome back David C. Williams. Listen in as David shares his thoughts on how organizations can use AI and RPA to move business forward. David dives into the role each plays and how they complement each other to solve business problems.
[00:00:27.320] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello, David. How are you?
[00:00:37.300] - David C. Williams
Must say I'm doing well.
[00:00:42.460] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thank you, David. I'd like to welcome you back to my podcast, Tech-Driven Business. Today, I would like to talk about how RPA and AI is helping organizations. How does that sound to you?
[00:00:59.900] - David C. Williams
Wonderful. It's an exciting topic, brother.
[00:01:07.610] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I know this is very near and dear to you. In our previous sessions, you had talked about at length, about RPA. I thought this will be a good segue into this conversation.
[00:01:21.770] - David C. Williams
[00:01:23.000] - Mustansir Saifuddin
How is AI and RPA helping organizations increase efficiency in their operations and throughout their business in general?
[00:01:34.740] - David C. Williams
Well, when I think about it, RPA is, I would say all of hyper automation, but especially RPA, is one of the, if not the least, expensive way to solve a business problem with software. Artificial intelligence is the computing power we've dreamed of. When you take that type of computing power and intelligence and give it a efficient reach like RPA, you can go do a lot of cool things very quickly and it doesn't cost your arm and the leg.
[00:02:17.250] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I like the way you connected the two. So it seems like they are both connected at the hip in terms of how they are complementing each other.
[00:02:29.080] - David C. Williams
Yeah. Ai is a brain, right? And just like in a human body, a brain is great, but it can't move anything physically, right? And so you need all these extremities to go about the brain's business every day. That's how I think about AI and RPA coming together. You have the most intelligent computational brain that you could imagine or dream of with mobility of RPA that's so flexible, so ubiquitous, so applicable in so many ways that when you put the two together, it's exponential.
[00:03:09.370] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That is great. Let's talk about something in terms of leveraging the efficiency part, right? We talk about efficiencies in business, in our general lives, how we can do things faster, better.
[00:03:25.920] - Mustansir Saifuddin
When we talk about leveraging the efficiency of RPA and the capabilities of AI, what makes it beneficial to a business? Can you give some examples? Talk about that.
[00:03:43.690] - David C. Williams
Yeah, sure. If you think about the combination of the two things that you could do with this. Let's say you have a workforce that uses some knowledge management system. Well, every day that workforce thumbs through a virtual encyclopedia, right? They thumb through a virtual dictionary to go get information or they query it.
[00:04:19.960] - David C. Williams
With the advent of generative AI combined with RPA, what you could do is you could use AI to do the querying and summarization of all of that knowledge management. You can use RPA to quickly place that in so many different places to make it more accessible. Yep, we got it. We got the great brain that's going to take all of this stuff and compile it into something that's usable and easy to extract from. But how do I get it over to my field technicians, to my customer service group? How do I leverage that across several systems? Rpa and other components of hyperautomation are very prone, very likely to be the best options to go do that without having to reinvent the wheel.
[00:05:18.730] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's a great example you use. That leads me into my next question about you've been doing hyper automation for quite some time, and you had some great success and gains that you saw with that implementation at AT&T. How do you see that journey evolved with the addition of AI now?
[00:05:42.030] - David C. Williams
Oh, man. Well, I would tell you, when it comes to things like RPA, my team does sit on the very forefront of where all that stuff is going, the way we use it, the conversations we even had with Microsoft on what they're building and enhancing and all that stuff. When I think about where it's going, though, and with AI, AI is going to take our most challenging parts of the development cycle, the most challenging parts of every business or many businesses, and it'll simplify. When I think of that, I think about a world where RPA is even more democratized, where literally any knowledge worker can use RPA. Instead of putting up PowerPoints, we can share prototypes.
[00:06:45.660] - David C. Williams
That is going to open up an entire universe of innovation and automation.
[00:06:53.900] - Mustansir Saifuddin
It seems almost like you are fast tracking a lot of things.
[00:06:59.900] - David C. Williams
Trying to, man. The funny thing about automation is the more you do it, the more folks want it, which is a good thing, but it is still a challenge. As we continue to grow the program, as we continue to help more of our colleagues, coworkers, customers, as more parts of the business depend on the things we create, we look for ways to continue to accelerate. There are a ton of quotes that we believe in and mantra we have on our team. One is that success is momentum over time. As we continue to... We found some success, we built some momentum. It's taking us a little bit of time as we continue to go down this path, we're going to keep driving more momentum. That is the expectation. Honestly, we're positioned for it. The more things that we build, the more we get to leverage. At one point, we were using bricks to build buildings, then we're using buildings to blocks to build cities, cities to build, etc. We're just still lead on that journey, accelerating and looking for ways to continue to accelerate. And that AI version of what I just spoke about is just one area.
[00:08:16.220] - David C. Williams
There's a ton of other things that we're looking at to automate so that we can accelerate everything that we're doing in that space.
[00:08:24.640] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That is awesome. When you think about opportunities, what opportunities do you see in this area where AI and RP are working together, the idea of creating this intelligent automation? Where do you see that going?
[00:08:42.160] - David C. Williams
Well, I think that at a certain point it's going to happen. For those that discover it or leverage it, priced, they will solve more complex business problems at a cheaper price, at a faster pace, and that will impact their competition and so forth and so forth. I think it's just a matter of time. These things, these operations, these big companies, whether you're talking telecom or healthcare, doesn't matter. The efficiency that they can drive helps them to be able to capitalize on the things that they do in those specific industries. Rpa is the least expensive hyperautomation is the least expensive way of solving a business problem with software. I haven't found anything cheaper. You put cognitive capabilities on top of that. That means the more complex things you can get after with the cheapest means of doing it. If you're doing that better than your competitor, look at our competitor.
[00:09:57.630] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure. I mean, there's always this conversation about what technology is moving away from or getting a thing of the past. So when you hear people talk about who say that RPA is a thing of the past and the future is AI, what is your response to that?
[00:10:19.710] - David C. Williams
It's probably a laugh, a chuckle. It would be like saying, Oh, you know what? The Wright brothers have mastered human flight. We've discovered human flight. We all can fly now. There's no need for tires. No need for tires. Nobody needs tires anymore. It's impossible to even think like that. I would say the same about AI and RPA. There is no competition between the two. This is chocolate and peanut butter. They work better together. There is no competition between the two. There is no replacement of one or the other. Your brain will never replace your thumb. Never. I don't care how good of a brain you have. That thumb sure comes in handy. That's how I think about RPA is that it's not that this is the 3G and there's 4G. No, no, no, no, no. This is complementary. As long as you have one, you will want the other. That's what I think about AI and RPA. As long as you have one, you're going to want the other. If you have RPA, you want cognitive capabilities to make those automations smarter so you can automate more things. If you have AI, you want reach and you want quick reach because with AI you get quick answers.
[00:11:54.510] - David C. Williams
So you want quick, ubiquitous, far, far reaching reach. Rpa gives you that hyper automation gives you that. Putting up Lego blocks together in the right ways, you get exactly that. For those that say that, I guess maybe it may be a little telling, but I don't see it.
[00:12:14.950] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I love the example you use. That is really great. It just puts things in perspective. I think it's just like the one cannot live without the other. It's almost like a marriage made in heaven. That's awesome.
[00:12:28.810] - David C. Williams
It really is. I mean, when you think about just how fast AI is able to go get the most complex, sophisticated answers and responses to produce code in seconds, whole paragraphs in seconds, whole reports. When you think about that to have that level of intelligence with the an arm 8,000 miles long, you can do a lot. You can do a whole lot. And so that's, I think, the beauty of AI and RPA coming together.
[00:13:10.790] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That makes sense. Definitely. For sure. So I guess that takes me to my next point. Based on all that we covered today, what is that one key takeaway that you would want our listeners to leave the session today with?
[00:13:29.000] - David C. Williams
You got to embrace AI quickly. You got to move safely with it. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Rpa is still the future. Rpa still has a huge impact. I would say to many American Airlines is great for getting you from New York to Los Angeles. But if you need tacos delivered on Tuesday at 2:00 PM American Airlines is probably not the place that you want to call. There's probably better options, more suitable options. One is not better than the other. They just have different roles. That's how RPA and AI relationship are. They have different roles that are extremely complementary of each other.
[00:14:23.860] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think that's a great way to put it. I like the example you use. I think it seems like a lot of times folks are thinking of one technology versus the other. The way you're explaining or you're rationalizing this whole thing is one is helping the other to be more productive, more efficient, and be more robust together as a business, as a technology that is working together to make things better.
[00:14:58.570] - David C. Williams
Must have said, I would tell you, brother, that one of the biggest mistakes people make in technology is they want to put all the eggs in one basket. Oh, we're going to have this one thing that's going to do all these things. You know what that's called? They did that a long time ago. It's called the Titanic. It doesn't work well that way. Even if you look at Netflix, Amazon, everything you're looking on a page, it's not just one application. There's so many applications working at once. You just see it in one user interface. And so the same way that those microservices work and they feel like one, but they're all separate is what hyper automation, what RPA is. It feels like one thing, but it's still separate. You put all these things together and you can create something magical versus trying to do this just one big, herculean, Titanic thing. And so I find that putting one and one together, if you get them close enough together, one in one is 11. You get further, faster, you get something exponential. You can skip all the other stuff. That's how I think about AI and RPA coming together.
[00:16:17.120] - David C. Williams
You get further, faster putting them together.
[00:16:20.620] - Mustansir Saifuddin
For sure. Now it's been a great session, David. And thank you for sharing your thoughts and your insights into this discussion point. I mean, definitely, there is a lot of progress that needs to be made in this field where both AI and RPA coming together, helping businesses and making our lives better. So I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for joining our session today.
[00:16:49.500] - David C. Williams
Thank you. Have a great day.
[00:16:58.250] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. David gave a great overview on the power of AI and rpa. His main takeaway: embrace AI quickly, move safely with it. Rpa is still the future and will have a great and huge impact. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about innovative solution partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss our podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Thursday Apr 27, 2023

In this next series of Tech-Driven Business, Michael Kim, Data & Analytics Leader, joins Mustansir Saifuddin to discuss how to approach data and analytics in a complex landscape. They'll dive into how to simplify your implementation approach and what it takes to have a successful implementation. 
Michael has 20 years of product management and consulting experience at Accenture, IBM, KPIT, DXC Technology. Michael is responsible for implementing over 15 Data and Analytics Solutions across multiple industries. He's a Product Strategist and Expert of the information delivery platforms: SAP, IBM, Snowflake, Salesforce, Workday. 
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Michael Kim
Mustansir Saifuddin,
Innovative Solution Partners 
Twitter: @MmsaifuddinYouTube
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.000] - Mustansir
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this first episode of a multi-part series, I welcome Michael Kim, a data and analytics expert. Listen in as Michael shares his thoughts on how to address complex IT landscapes for a successful implementation. Hello, everyone. Joining me today is Michael Kim, a good friend and a seasoned leader in the field of data and analytics with a focus on SAP technology. Welcome, Michael.
[00:00:42.530] - Michael
Hey, Mustansir. Very nice to be here. It's a pleasure. It's always great to have a conversation and dialog with my good friend. What better topic than talking about data analytics, especially given time right now where things are going. It's an exciting time for the market and the industry, and I'm happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:02.760] - Mustansir
All right. Now, great to have you, Michael. I think this is one of the hot topic as you go along across the board. Any organization, everybody is talking about challenges of implementing data and analytics in their environment, especially when you have a complex landscape. With that, I'd like to get into our discussion points. Are you ready?
[00:01:26.920] - Michael
Yes, absolutely. Let's get it going.
[00:01:29.020] - Mustansir
All right. Let's start with a high level. I wanted to get your take on how do you approach data analytics in a complex landscape? What are the things that you're seeing based on your experience? Can you explain, can you share some thoughts on that?
[00:01:44.100] - Michael
Absolutely. This is the big elephant in the room for all organization, is what is complex? And especially data analytics alone, topic itself is complex. So how do we tackle it? And it's been a conversation. It's been a question. It's been a challenge for all organizations globally for however long ,I've been doing this for a very long time. And it doesn't change. I think the way I see it and what I experienced for the past 20 years, serving multiple clients and multiple vendors, both from SAP and outside of SAP, and IT and business, I think it comes down to two things is what is a complex landscape and how do we approach it? And really nails down to, two, is process approach or is it a data-driven approach? And there's no right or wrong answer for that matter. It's really what sets the foundation of solving the complexity to provide business clarity on process and what role does data and analytics products and toolset comes into that picture as well. So I've seen an organization who prefer to have a data analytics landscape where they want to have it more centralized, meaning they don't want to have it decentralized from multiple regions.
[00:03:07.130] - Michael
They want to consolidate it from multiple regions to one centralized data platform, which will produce data products to the business and to the customers and to the vendors. And then I've seen organizations where they prefer decentralization of the data environment. And of course, I'm not going to say there's no right or wrong approach on this. I think it all comes down to the customer's desire and where they fit in the industry. And at the end of the day, it's understanding the environment of the landscape. And that's how you tackle it is a centralized approach of the data environment and  how do you solve that complex landscape? And then what is that data product and process comes into place as to a data centralized data environment where you want to provide clarity and data insights in that decentralized, but how does that serve the purpose to the customers and the users in the business to provide data products around that area.
[00:04:05.550] - Mustansir
Got it. No, that makes sense. I think that's a good lead into my next question. When you talk about implementation approach, what criteria do you employ? And basically, what is the application to simplify the implementation approach is a better question, I guess.
[00:04:23.830] - Michael
I always go with this approach is I think it's taking a step back from applications or business, but how we come into this world from when we're infants to when we become an adult and as we age into more mature grownups. There's three stages. There's crawl, walk, and run approach. And of course, I think that's the most important thing for the organization to really realize where they are in the current state is are they in the infant stage? Or they are in the infant stage where they want to make that transition into walking and to running and then ultimately sprinting. And if I have to put that into an analytic perspective is, I think this is the most common term that's thrown out there is, where are you in the organization in your data products and analytics maturity? Is that really driven by descriptive analytics, or is it more predictive, or is it more prescriptive? And then it gets more complex with new embedded things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, which makes analytics going from prescriptive to a lot more advanced to do a lot more wonderful things on how to use the product.
[00:05:41.950] - Mustansir
Yeah. I think you hit it right on. That's one of the things that a lot of organizations do have to analyze where they are in this journey. And that can be challenging, depending on the maturity of the data analytics approach that the organization is using. And to your point, when you talk about these three phases of descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive, it is a balance of what you currently have and where you want to end up. That's the key, what I'm hearing from you.
[00:06:23.260] - Michael
Absolutely, Mustansir. I mean, you and I work with a lot of colleagues going back to many of us, we serve a lot of customers in the past. And I think it's the same story, even for you. You've been into a lot of big high profile, large cap companies, large different, I guess, corporations, different business global wide and SIs. And when you walk in, first thing I believe you always look for is even for yourself is where are we? What am I walking into? And then where are we as a project, program, also as a client? And minute you, I think, harness that realization, we're in the program, then you also define what you need to do and how you can add value to simplify that implementation approach. It's the same thing for every consultant, every data analytics professional is really understanding your surroundings, your current state, not only for yourself, for the program and the client, and also where does the Si role come into picture? Where does the application or software vendor come into picture? It's really understanding your current state and where you want to get to, which is the future state.
[00:07:28.730] - Mustansir
Yeah, for sure. I think that using that as a driver into our next conversation is based on your experience working with system integrators, as you mentioned, customers, SAP itself, what constitutes a successful data analytics project?
[00:07:47.520] - Michael
That's really interesting question. I guess it's coming from IT then. I guess it all depends on who you're serving as a data analytics professional or as industry wide consultant or expert. But it really comes down to, in my opinion, is who are we here to serve? Is it IT or is it business or is it organization? What makes the company click? And in my personal philosophy is it's always prioritized business first, mainly because going back to the whole fundamental three pillars is people, process, and technology is when you start a business, even for a small startup, it's selling a small hamburger for mom and pop stores to turning that into a multibillion dollar global hamburger chain. It's all about selling the product and serving the public. Who's going to help you get there? It's the people. It's the people you hire and people who share the same vision. And then after that, after those people are defined to collaborate in that vision, what is the set of process that we need to put in place not only for the company, but also within the division, within the people and the culture? And then once you set that good process and strategy, then that's when the technology comes in and make sure that we execute.
[00:09:15.520] - Michael
I think with that said, what I'm looking for as a cost is successful is the business objective is met. And if that business constitutes a C-level executives, or it constitutes a middle management, or also even for the customers and vendor is can they make data analytics about providing insights and providing data and providing intelligence so they can make informed decisions? And to me, that's the prioritization that constitutes successful is that are business able to make better decision for the company than they were able to do it in the past than as to today and also for the future? And also there's no right or wrong answer. It also depends on where you are in the program. And at the end of the day, it's always going back to the core fundamental is making the business and organization successful.
[00:10:09.520] - Mustansir
Yeah, I think I like the way you summed it all up. And it seems like first you need to know your end-customer, especially when you're dealing with analytics. And at the end of the day, the business needs to benefit. And if the business is benefiting, then that will allow an organization to grow, which is the whole idea behind Analytics is to help businesses, organizations as a whole, to make sure that they are on the right path, they are making progress. And your approach makes a lot of sense, especially when you talk about success factors, like what are the things that makes an organization click? Thank you for clarifying that. I think this is really important. Then when you're talking on this topic, let's look at it from a different angle. Why is it important to have all these projects? We look at different projects and why is it so important to have a good senior analytics architect who can see things from a holistic perspective on these projects? Why is it that so critical?
[00:11:15.180] - Michael
Well, I can share my personal experience working with you when you join the program, one of our clients is they want you join the program. Mustansir here comes in and say, Hey, Michael, Mustansir, very nice to meet you. And we click. And then the first question you asked is, What am I walking into? And who are my customers, and you wanted to get the whole picture all together. And my questions is like, Okay, there's a lot of good questions you're asking. And one of the things you're saying is that everything is connected, Michael. As a senior architect, not only have to see it from technical perspective, but you have to see it from business perspective, and you have to see it from process perspective. That's what the senior analytic architect brings to the successful program is having that right combination of technology and business and also process in place to really see the holistic picture where the whole fundamental principles that you add here that you always preach to me and also we preach to our team is, Analytics and data are all connected within the organization. We just need to help the business and the technology, IT and the customers be able to see the holistic picture of how everything is connected.
[00:12:29.030] - Michael
So it's not just the analytic architect who's specializing on tools like SAP or Oracle, or not just the business architect who comes from consulting company like McKinsey, just focusing on such much business process, but being able to connect both process, business, technology all into one, and then package that into one holistic picture and drive that whole success of the program. I think that's what sets the importance of senior architect. And what I'm trying to... I think the lack of a better word is the total package, who sees everything and who are able to connect everything and then able to drive to that success. That was an impressive experience. We always adhere to and we always preach it to our colleagues. So far, it worked out well, right?
[00:13:14.650] - Mustansir
Yeah, for sure. That's the key, that holistic view like you explained it. Especially when you're trying to do a robust data environment, how do you define your goals? What is short term versus long term? And like a strategy approach versus more operational approach. So seems like having that person, that view of the whole landscape really allows you to get into the details. And the only way you can do it is having that experience in the past, right? Having been there, experienced it, seen it, and now you're applying all those learnings into this project, right? So I think that's what I'm hearing from you.
[00:14:02.620] - Michael
Absolutely. I'm going to quote you on this. There was a moment in the program when we're working together, you said, Hey, I'm here for two things. I'm here to either add value, I'm here to fix the problem, I'm here to do both. I think if that mindset comes in, and that's mindset and the principle that senior architect holds, I think that program is due for good success. I'm sorry to steal your quote on this, but that was the very impressive that the principles that I still go by is I'm always learning from my colleagues like yourself. I think that's the core founding principles as a senior analytic architect is to not only add value but also fix problems, but at the same time do both, not only for short term but long term as well.
[00:14:45.640] - Mustansir
For sure. Thank you for the kind words. I think that takes us towards the end of our conversation. I'd like to always ask this question from our guests. Based on what we covered so far, what is the one key take away that you would want to leave with the listeners today?
[00:15:02.200] - Michael
Analytics, data, this technology, there's no right or wrong answer. It's changing every day. And one thing that has, I think we're in 2023, year 2023, but the year 2002 pandemic has taught us, if anything, is that we still don't know. Even with the week, we're never well prepared. It's always evolving. And there was one way to counter that is always preparing ourselves to, technology wise, people wise, and process wise. But in order to get there is understanding your organization, either organization as an executive or organization as a middle management, or organization as a customer and vendor we work with. It's understanding your current state and where you are. And then from there, using that self realization to really drive the strategy, the short term strategy and the long term roadmap to really have a good, clear picture of where you want to get from point A to B to X, Y, Z. I think that is the key take away for I want to share with the listeners today is that I think analytics and data technology, what we're doing in this industry is always going to be a journey. We just need to know that where we are in the journey and how we want to get there.
[00:16:18.240] - Michael
I think that is the critical component of our success, not only to ourselves, but to our customers and vendors and our partners.
[00:16:25.860] - Mustansir
I think you said it very well. My two takeaways from this is change is the only constant in this industry as well as self realization. Self realization is the key for an organization to move forward on where you want to end up as a data analytics landscape. And then, of course, the long term strategy that becomes part of the goals that you want to put together. This was a great conversation, Michael. Looking forward to having more sessions with you where we do some more in depth conversations on this topic. I'd like to get some real life examples from you. Thank you very much for joining the session with us today.
[00:17:07.090] - Michael
Thank you Mustansir. It's been a good first session and thanks for having me. To our listeners, definitely it's exciting times for the field of data analytics. This is an incredible journey we're going to embark on. I'm looking forward to more conversation and more dialogs and experiences we're going to discuss going forward.
[00:17:28.700] - Mustansir
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Michael shared valuable insights on what it takes to handle complex landscapes. His main takeaway, there is no right answer when working with analytics, data, and technology. It is constantly evolving and it's a journey. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversations by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Monday Feb 20, 2023

In this episode of Tech-Driven Business, William ("Bill") Newman, Industry Executive Advisor (Chief), Automotive for the Customer Innovation Office at SAP North America, rejoins Mustansir Saifuddin to talk about the electronic vehicle (EV) market. Bill shares background on the EV market, how the market is developing, and what to expect in the future. From fuel cell technology to point charging to the changing user experience and sustainability, Bill covers a lot. More importantly he shares some valuable information for consumers and suppliers alike.
Bill has over 35 years of executive leadership, strategy, consulting, practice management experience balanced with extensive public speaking and higher education experience. A former leadership team member for Volkswagen’s IT division, he is the author of two books on enterprise performance and has worked with many OEMs and suppliers across the automotive industry. 
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Bill Newman,
Mustansir Saifuddin,
Innovative Solution Partners 
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:03.760] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this episode, I welcome back Bill Newman of SAP. Listen in as Bill shares a background on the electric vehicles or the EV market. He dives into not only the past, but what we can expect to see down the road for suppliers across industries.
[00:00:30.200] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello, Bill. How are you?
[00:00:32.060] - Bill Newman
Good, Mustansir. Good to be back on your show.
[00:00:35.960] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thank you. Hey, welcome to Tech-Driven Business. We had some interesting conversations in the past and I'd like to continue our talk. But this time I picked a different topic than what we had discussed in the past. So looking forward to having that conversation with you.
[00:00:53.120] - Bill Newman
Sounds great. Let's dive in.
[00:00:56.490] - Mustansir Saifuddin
All right. So what we want to discuss as part of the show today is electric vehicles or EV and technology and how they go hand in hand. So with that, let's start with our conversation. I want to start off with, what are some of the cool things on the horizon when you talk about EV market? Can you just give us some background and your perspective on that?
[00:01:24.740] - Bill Newman
Well, sure. I think listeners will be pretty familiar with the light passenger space. Battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrid electric vehicles, particularly those are going to be some of the things that we're seeing now and will continue to see. In other parts of the vehicle space, we're seeing hydrogen, other aspects of fuel cell technology, particularly for long-haul. But the general consumer, unless they're part of that transportation business, is probably, at least in the near term, not going to be impacted by that. With electrification comes this pesky business of having to charge a vehicle. I think listeners might be aware of the term range anxiety. The good news is that on a couple of fronts, battery density and the ability to charge a battery quickly using a DC direct-current fast-charging methods and even some infrastructure that allows parallel DC fast-charging will become more and more available. So it's not just we need locations for charging, but we also need those locations to be quick, efficient, and effective. People understand that you can't just put charging stations out in a parking lot and it works great in the summertime. But when there's weather and in the Sun Belt, the weather can be in the summertime, you have to also provide a friendly charging environment for that.
[00:03:14.240] – Bill Newman
So you're going to have covers and maybe some solar collection on the top of the covers, maybe some heated environments for northern climates. These things are all being talked about. We went in deep with them with a recent center of automotive research event that we had that SAP sponsored in San Ramon at the end of 2022. I think also, too, the fact that the federal government is enabling an additional subsidy program for passenger EVs, and also putting some significant infrastructure dollars on the table as a part of the IRA will allow not just the Coast and a lot of the key Gulf Sunbelt strips, which do seem to have a high propensity for charging station density, but allow those to fill into places like in America's heartland where there's lots of open stretches in places where the traditional oil and gas companies have fought to keep electric charging out. So I do think that you'll begin to see over the next few years a little bit less range anxiety. Maybe even we get closer to the mythical 1,000 mile charge, which would really free up EVs as a cross continental and road trip platform that you could take with your friends, your family, maybe even towing, given the fact that we've got some really cool high torque electric vehicle trucks that are now making it into the marketplace and are getting very well received. Here to show everybody around the candy store what might be coming with EVs. So far, it all looks pretty good over the next few years.
[00:05:16.620] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think it's a very exciting time that we're living in, especially that some of the changes that are coming in this segment of the market is pretty phenomenal. How the battery life has been standing in a matter of very short period of time. I think this is really exciting stuff. Taking that growth in that EV space now, looking from the lens of a technology company, how can tech companies support this evolving EV market?
[00:05:54.100] - Bill Newman
Well, staying on the topic of point charging, we see there an emergence of a new role in the auto ecosystem and that of energy provisioner. Being not just the companies that create third-party charging stations, but actually brands owning that as an option to say someone like you or I buying an electric vehicle, just like we would decide that we want some sporty wheels and trim packages on our vehicle. Maybe there's a package for pulling a boat, and we'll also be able to buy a trim package to hang a charging unit on the inside of our garage and be able to charge that way. Those are products that need to be built. Those are products that need to be serviced and managed. Guess what? There's a lot of companies, like all the big brands that want to have a piece of that and not only just white label those to be able to provide to their customers, but also be able to potentially do some fractal billing, a few basis pennies per kilowatt hour over time really adds up. And so there's a significant upside and revenue potential there and the Wall Street Journal covered that pretty extensively in an article in late 2022.
[00:07:18.940] - Bill Newman
So those are all good things from a vehicle technology perspective, obviously higher density batteries, non-heavy metal batteries. So doing a lot of work with silicone, which can be developed synthetically and not have to be mined and harvested out of tough to reach and sometimes areas with really poor labor practices or maybe not politically friendly to Western markets. So there's a real upside there. And really just also, I think when you look at EVs, the nature, and I've spoken about this on this program and others, the nature of how EVs are shifting the experience from the front-seat driver experience to what I call the back-seat passenger experience, where you might be traveling in a semi-autonomous vehicle that is electrified and may not have a steering wheel, may actually feel more like a rolling, either workplace, or family space. And those provide new opportunities for companies who provide interiors, who provide lighting, who provide sound and instrumentation. We are working with suppliers today, automotive suppliers today, that are really thrilled with the opportunity to come up with some of these new creative designs or creative applications to support some of the new technologies that are going into different EV designs.
[00:08:56.580] - Bill Newman
That piece is really extraordinary. If you look back in time, it's almost like when we left the Model A and the lifted carriage design that Henry Ford made so popular and really began to go into the longer sedan like driving experience where everybody could go for a Sunday drive in the countryside. And it was really liberating. I think in many ways we're at that next juncture point now in the design of vehicles that EV is letting us aspire to.
[00:09:36.600] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I like your comparison. Really, it is coming to the point where we are going to see a big shift, at least from the vantage point we are at right now, seems like the possibilities are endless, especially when you talk about the interior of a car and the experience of a passenger, not just a driver. You're bringing in a whole new market segment, not only for organizations who are building those interiors, but technology companies who provide those accessories where it opens up a lot of opportunities for the consumers to have a different experience altogether in a vehicle.
[00:10:24.330] - Bill Newman
I'll just add really quickly to that and do a shout out to the Experiences Per Mile Advisory Council, and the report that they issued in 2022, actually was the first report of its kind that suggested that the utility or the experience value, the value of an experience was different based on the purpose for that particular use of a vehicle. So if I was going on a vacation road trip, or if I was just driving to the office, or I was taking my kids to a soccer practice, there were lots of different use cases. And it's really pretty extraordinary to see then, are we moving to a place, particularly with new EV design, where we're actually designing or maybe just using a vehicle specifically fit for a given purpose or a set of specific purposes. And then for another basket of reasons why we would use a vehicle, we use something completely different all together. Really suggests a huge differentiation in potentially where vehicles could go and maybe moving out of that, how many hundreds of thousands of this particular vehicle did I produce to make money in a particular year to how personalized was I able to make this vehicle experience to my customers?
[00:11:55.840] - Bill Newman
And how many times were they able to come into my portfolio of different vehicles to get the value that they wanted? So it's pretty fascinating stuff.
[00:12:07.660] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think you touched upon a very important point over here, the experience economy. Everything is about the experience now. This whole EV market can definitely change how folks look at a mode of transportation being so versatile and so open to having these possibilities which were unimaginable a few years back. Definitely a big shift in this direction. On a separate note, let me ask you this, what do you consider your biggest accomplishment? I know on a professional level, definitely you have a lot to share, but something that sticks out to you on a personal professional level that you'd like to share with our listeners?
[00:13:01.080] - Bill Newman
Well, I think outside of my family, on a personal level professionally, I've always tried to be more of a teacher and a mentor. Interesting story. When I was a junior at UCLA, I was a substitute teacher for a school district that was on strike. All the world of respect to educators out there, but I was a hungry college student that needed to earn a few bucks, so I taught some math classes. One of my most fulfilling moments in my early adulthood was being able to work with some of the high school students that frankly hadn't gotten much of a shot from the institutional educators that were working at the high school that I was pinch hitting in and really being able to watch them grow. I've learned over the years that some of them have actually gone on to become educators themselves. I find that hugely fulfilling and feels like I have in a small way left a mark in somebody's life moving forward. Also just as a youth leader, too, as the same thing, whether it's at church or boy scouts or any of those things. Professionally, I've been part of some really cool vehicle design programs.
[00:14:23.900] - Bill Newman
Listeners might know that I was an airplane guy before I was an automobile guy. So being able to take advantage of some design to first flight vehicle programs was really rewarding for me, as well as watching the Volkswagen Beatle sunset and roll off the assembly line down in Puebla, Mexico, after owning one as my first car when I had just gotten my license when I was 16. Those are just some fun things that come to mind. Appreciate you asking the question.
[00:15:03.360] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Now, that's awesome. I can see that spark in your eyes when you talk about teaching and your passion for that and how it relates to your professional life also. But coming back to our topic, when you talk about EVs and this whole conversation about technology, what's your take on sustainability? How big a role is sustainability playing for the supply chain as you have seen in the past year or what do you see as the future in 2023?
[00:15:39.080] - Bill Newman
Well, for sure, we're doing in our supply chain, we're moving more to a make-to-market, so more of a regionalization, which is good ecologically. Putting things on airplanes and putting them on boats and making them go thousands of miles. Yeah, I understand that there's a factor cost benefit to it to keep the price low, but it's not a good thing in terms of emissions either from vehicles or from ships, air vehicles, airplanes, air cargo jets in particular, and it's also very expensive. So I think that that aside, being able to figure out a way to manufacture EV technologies with less of a reliance on heavy materials that, again, need to be strip mined in many situations and have a tendency to devastate the environment of developing nations and not so developing nations who are doing that at their own expense. I think that there's something to be said about that. We're going to look at Scope 1, 2 and possibly Scope 3 requirements, along with significant tailpipe emission requirements and other rules that are going to come to the US in 2023. One can imagine that if I don't have my rules in alignment, I could, as an innocent EV owner, purchase a vehicle that was manufactured using inappropriate labor sources with materials that were mined in non-environmentally friendly ways and powered by non-environmentally friendly coal fired electrical plants.
[00:17:39.120] - Bill Newman
So just because you drive an EV doesn't mean that you're being ecologically mindful. You have to really understand where it's all coming from and how you're using it. So sustainability plays a huge role there. We're going to see more regulatory impacts and reporting impacts as we go into 2023. And frankly, that works for people who want to drive gas powered vehicles as well. They're complex pieces of machinery and whether you have an affinity to drive gas powered electric or what have you, there's no guarantee that just because you climb behind a wheel, some gas powered vehicles are actually more sustainable than EVs. So it's not a black and white thing. Just to use the expression, you really have to go under the hood to understand what's going on there so that you're putting your money in a meaningful way in a place where you can act accordingly based on your beliefs for what sustainability means for you.
[00:18:48.360] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think you just hit it really right on the point when you talk about you really have to look under the hood to see what's going on. That's a good advice for our listeners to keep that in mind when you look at sustainability and how big of a role it plays overall. I think that brings us to the end of our conversation. Like I say always, what is the one take away from this particular topic that you're talking about that you want our listeners to keep in mind how we move through 2023?
[00:19:26.100] - Bill Newman
Well, I think on the topic of EVs, just to wrap up the last piece that we were discussing, I think you have to decide what kind of an impact and how early you want to make, if you are going to be a green buyer and be conscientious and put your money where your mouth is. And for those people who really want to make an impact right now, immediately, and feel good about what they're doing over the next 5 to 10 years with the environment, buy a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. It's proven technology. Do plug it in. Don't drive it like a gas powered vehicle because then you're no better off than if you're filling up at the gas station. But that's very finely tuned technology. It's multi generations old. If you do feel that compelled to go in and buy a full battery electric vehicle, also understand that the technology is going to significantly improve, not quite like Moore's Law, but you're going to see some significant improvements in vehicle performance and comfort. Maybe not reliability because they're generally very high quality vehicles built today. But certainly in terms of battery capacity range, etc. You're going to see some real significant improvements in the next two to three years.
[00:20:51.240] - Bill Newman
But again, plan to drive the car for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. That's how they're built. And that's a real change in the mindset, particularly of North American auto consumers who, as recent as 20 years ago, generally bought or leased a new car every 4 to 6 years. We're moving away from that. So be really happy and confident in the purchase, particularly that you're making when and if you do go in for a form of electric vehicle. And that way you'll be quite satisfied over the period of ownership.
[00:21:33.120] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's a good advice to keep in mind. Thank you so much, Bill. It has been a pleasure talking with you. And it was a great conversation, especially this topic has been lingering and a lot of folks have questions in terms of how we are seeing the market now, but also what is the future holds for them. So thank you again for sharing your insights into this topic.
[00:21:58.240] - Bill Newman
Great to be with you again. Take care. Have a great day.
[00:22:02.340] - Mustansir Saifuddin
You too. Thank you.
[00:22:07.920] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Bill covered so many aspects of the quickly evolving EV market. His main take away? Decide what environmental impact you want to make and when. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovation Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Tuesday Jan 24, 2023

In this next series of Tech-Driven Business, William ("Bill") Newman, Industry Executive Advisor at SAP North America, rejoins Mustansir Saifuddin to discuss how Workforce Planning has evolved through out the pandemic. This includes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, changes in business operational styles, talent acquisition and retention, and how SAP is playing a role in this landscape. From not only supporting customers with their talent attraction and retention to providing access to education to expand the talent pool, SAP continues to be an important player in the tech industry.
Bill has over 35 years of executive leadership, strategy, consulting, practice management experience balanced with extensive public speaking and higher education experience. A former leadership team member for Volkswagen’s IT division, he is the author of two books on enterprise performance and has worked with many OEMs and suppliers across the automotive industry. 
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Bill Newman
Mustansir Saifuddin
Innovative Solution Partners 
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:04.090] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-driven Business. Brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this first episode of a multipart series, I welcome back Bill Newman of SAP listen in as Bill shares his thoughts on how workforce planning has evolved in the pandemic. There are so many moving pieces to the puzzle and Bill hits on what businesses of all sizes should be aware of.
[00:00:30.730] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello, Bill. How are you?
[00:00:33.530] - Bill Newman
Great. Mustansir. Good to be back with you again.
[00:00:36.970] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thank you. Thank you for joining us. It's been a while, so it's really good to have you back on our show.
[00:00:42.590] - Bill Newman
Good to be back with you. Good topic to revisit now that it's been a little while, for sure.
[00:00:49.730] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think today we will focus on workforce planning and DEI. That's what we want to talk about and get some real examples from you and how things have progressed over since our last conversation. So if you're ready, we can get into our questions.
[00:01:10.230] - Bill Newman
Let's dive in.
[00:01:12.390] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Sounds good. So I know when you last joined me, we were in the midst of a pandemic, right? And looking back at 2022, what changes have you seen and where do you see us going?
[00:01:28.330] - Bill Newman
Well, I think the biggest change is that we're all we're all back together again, right? We're all working. We're working differently. So obviously there's a lot of technology that has been provided to enable remote work that's become mainstream. And in fact, in many cases, it's de facto. Whereas prior to the pandemic, we would say, tell me why we can't get together face to face. The kind of the thinking now is, tell me why we can't do this virtually. Right? Everybody's kind of enjoyed not only do they have the technology to work remotely, many people have enjoyed the fact that they haven't had to spend two, three, 4 hours a day commuting or traveling. So if we need to, we will. If we don't, why should we? It's even gotten to a point where a lot of our customers have asked their employees, tell me what days you would be willing to come into the office. And no big surprise, very few people lift their hand on Monday and Friday because they would like to spend those days at least working from home to have a little bit more of a work life or life work balance.
[00:02:47.270] - Bill Newman
But interestingly, everybody coming into the office on Wednesdays just creates the same traffic nightmare and parking anxiety that everybody had prior to the pandemic. So that's always an interesting facet. I think the way that we engage with people both in terms of how we bring them into the company and what our expectations are of them once they're in the company, I think has certainly changed. I think about some of the prioritizations and I guess what's a good word for it, some of the glamour that kind of went along with working for, say, for example, a high tech company in Silicon Valley. Well, guess what? You can probably work for that same company and work in Asheville, North Carolina, up in the mountains eating fish tacos at night. So there's really lots of different opportunities to work. So the glamour around working for some of these companies where you would come in, you get the ping pong table, you could bring your pet to work, you could get free lunches, free dinners, almost create an environment where you'd never want to leave, particularly if you were at the time of young millennial without a family.
[00:04:13.570] - Bill Newman
That pretext has gone away and that pretense doesn't make any sense anymore. We'll get into a couple of other things around workforce hiring and some of the things that are emerging around diversity and equality and inclusion or dei, which I think is very interesting as we do our look ahead. But those are some of the main and plain changes that we've seen since you and I were together, I think over a year ago.
[00:04:44.490] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure. I think Bill and thanks for getting into like the nittygritty of what's going on and what we are seeing in this 2022 versus during the Pandemic. I think one of the things that was really stood out, especially for younger workforce, they find this as a new normal. And that has definitely put a lot of pressure on organizations to look at this as a going forward approach also right. In terms of how they should be operating, not just now coming out of the Pandemic, but in the long run, how should they be structured and what should be the criteria for the employees to be attracted to an organization or to associate with them. Right. In that fashion, I think it's safe.
[00:05:35.780] - Bill Newman
To say that geography has very little correlation to where we work and what we do anymore. And that is a huge game changer.
[00:05:44.190] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure. That kind of takes me to looking ahead. So let's fast forward to 2023. What do you think organizations should be looking at and employees at the same time, right? What should be their focus as far as moving ahead in 2023?
[00:06:07.190] - Bill Newman
Well, I think on the topic of workforce planning, for sure, and I'll look at this through a manufacturing lens. So, you know, you and I are both manufacturing experts, so let's kind of stay in our base camp for the moment. There's going to be a significant amount of hiring that's still going to continue just because we decide to keep interest rates high. That's not going to take away the need from having people with both skilled trades as well as higher education, engineering especially, to come in and really contribute. So those talents will remain and will become very competitive across different kinds of manufacturing as well as non-manufacturing segments. So, again, remember, we took geography out of the equation. So you and I are today recording. We're both in Michigan. Tomorrow we could be looking at bringing somebody on board to our projects that could be in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida and Georgia. Doesn't matter. We're all going to be enabled to come together. So I think that this idea of, again, where you work and where you live is now disassociated. And what that does is it creates a lot of competitiveness across industries and across industry sectors.
[00:07:36.870] - Bill Newman
So how we interview, I'm a big brand, you want to come and work for me? Maybe I'm not really interested in going through eight to ten interview cycles with you anymore. Maybe I can find a good job, a good next step in my career without having to make that kind of commitment that you expected to come work for a brand name company before the pandemic. So being able to get to figure out for employers, being able to figure out what's the talent we need, what does that skill mix look like, what's my preferred ratio of being in office or being remote? Does the position require being face to face? And if so, how much, how much virtualization can be needed, is needed to be successful? All of that you got to figure out ahead of time and then really compress the onboarding and hiring process. So that's for sure going to be a real challenge, particularly in this talent shortage and manufacturing, again, staying kind of our base camp. I think the other thing to look at and we'll lead into this topic around DEI, it's really in the mainstream now. So I'm going to refer to the recently published Original Equipment Supplier Association OESA study that was completed with Acadia just in December of 2022.
[00:09:09.790] - Bill Newman
It really spoke strongly and without going too deep into the report, just kind of give a couple of points. That over 60% of companies now in the automotive supplier space. So again, kind of stay in niche into one of our home bases here have active dei programs and of those, 60 plus percent are showing improvements or acceleration in those programs. And I'm really not just talking about making sure that you have a diverse workforce from a cultural or race or a gender perspective. It's actually also extending to socioeconomic background kind of in terms of culturally where your country of origin might be from, and also making sure that those DEI elements not only apply to new talent acquisition, but also to high potential programs to work shift opportunities. So if you did want to take a different shift in your skilled trade, maybe having that balance across for second and maybe even third shifts is important as well as in the boardroom. So you're not just going to see it at the front end and the back end of the career management process. You're going to see it all across the different elements of an employee journey, throughout the organization.
[00:10:35.470] - Bill Newman
And again, while manufacturing is going to be significantly short on effective and productive talent, you're going to see a real lean into that to keep those people happy, to keep them motivated and to keep them performing at very high levels with very high intrinsic value, for sure.
[00:10:56.900] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think you mentioned about DEI and what role is being playing and how quickly it is getting integrated into the new normal. Right. That's amazing. With that being said, let's take a little detail over here on a personal note. I know you always have a pulse on what is going on in the industry. How are you able to do that?
[00:11:23.370] - Bill Newman
Well, I think it comes from a lot of years and knowing a lot of people and having done a lot of different things. I really do enjoy learning. I'm a naturally curious individual. I also enjoy meeting new people and hearing their perspective, particularly some of the lessons learned in the personal experiences coming out of the pandemic. I think we have a lot to offer each other and I think that just being able to be part of that conversation and maybe not contribute into the conversation as much as well as listening in and taking ideas away from the conversation, but certainly trying to frame a balance of that. And I think also, too, it's very interesting as the parent of Millennials now that the millennials are essentially running the workplace now. They're the largest generation in the workforce now by numbers. It's very interesting for me to see how the nature of business is changing now that essentially my kids generation are running business here, at least in North America. So I find that particularly interesting and in some cases highly entertaining.
[00:12:47.650] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I can totally relate to that. It's just different dynamics, right? That's for sure.
[00:12:53.750] - Bill Newman
Yeah, 100%. You know, things are things are very, very different and the different expectations that come with shaping those different generational life journeys is pretty interesting to watch.
[00:13:08.010] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah. And I think that in a good way, it's happening and it's happening fairly, I would say at a very fast pace the way it's happening. But now looking back, like, let's do it from an organization's point of view, right. What's your take on how SAP is helping retool the workforce to make it easier for people to jump into it? What have you observed?
[00:13:39.170] - Bill Newman
Well, there are some things certainly that we can offer our customers that can make it a lot easier for them to manage their employee journey. So I think listeners are probably familiar with the fact that SAP has a special relationship with Qualtrics. Qualtrics does a lot of work around employee relationship and being able to kind of do those pulse surveys. And we did use those pulse surveys very significantly across a lot of industries during the pandemic. They were incredibly useful just to kind of keep a sense, particularly when we weren't together at all, to be able to keep a sense on where everybody was. The so called pulse check, I think also too that from a human experience management or human HR relationship type of perspective. We've always had tools to help with the onboarding and also the career management of employees. I just think that those are going to gain a higher level of importance, particularly as skilled trade and experienced talent particularly is harder to find and is harder to keep and as the demand grows. I think from a knowledge and community sharing, SAP has been very forward with online learning platforms such as Open SAP.
[00:15:13.970] - Bill Newman
So lots of education, a lot of content, a lot of knowledge available to go in and learn basically available for at free of charge in many cases. So just one zone time. And I think based on some of the experiences Mustansir that you and I have had within the user groups, is a very vibrant community within the user base, that allows for not only personal networking, but also for experiential learning as well as story sharing and other really great learning vehicles like that. So we're trying to do our best particularly inside of key industries and localized geographies where people may not be working but where they are resident. And I think that that will continue and become even more important in the coming years.
[00:16:07.350] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I think you mentioned about SAP's role. I think I likely when throwing you mentioned about user groups and America's SAP User Group (ASUG) I will call them out on this and they have done a great job in kind of mixing in with the the new normal. How things are happening in 2022 after the Pandemic and having that virtual/in-person events, trying to meet up with the demands after the Pandemic, how things are moving forward and what are people looking at as far as learning and meeting up with each other, as well as collaboration. So I think we have a mixed bag of all the platforms that are currently available to the business community are coming along and moving into the direction that makes it much easier for organizations to manage how they are managing their workforce and especially this trend. Will we'll see how 2023 brings to the forefront in terms of what we have seen in 2022 and what is going to be a long term effect on how workforce planning goes in general right now, from an organizational point of view? So that being said, I know this was one thing that I always ask my guest what is that one takeaway that you want to share with our listeners and they should leave with that in this session?
[00:17:58.970] - Bill Newman
Well, kind of going back to trying to have a state of natural curiosity, I think listeners can always keep in mind or maybe take with them the fact that we can always learn something from one another. And you may have a highly pedigreed career over decades, but bringing a set of fresh eyes with a different perspective can be really kind of that spark moment that you need to either solve a critical business problem or really just find something intrinsic in your own personal growth journey. Doesn't matter what your age are or who you are, we all have that need, and I think being able to contribute and help shape each other and being open, I think that's really also another key. Being open to those messages when they come in will all make us much better people and make our businesses operate much more productively and efficiently, for sure.
[00:19:09.570] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Great advice. Thank you so much. This has been a great session with you, Bill, as always. Thank you and I look forward to talking with you in our next podcast.
[00:19:21.810] - Bill Newman
Sounds great. Look forward to it. Thanks for having me on.
[00:19:27.750] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Bill provided valuable insights on how workforce planning has changed over the last couple of years. His main takeaway? We can always learn from one another. Bringing a fresh set of ideas with a different perspective can be the spark movement you need to solve a business problem or for your own personal growth. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Tuesday Dec 06, 2022

In this episode, Matt Florian of Comerit rejoins Mustansir Saifuddin to discuss the importance of managing organizational change as enterprises take on cloud based analytics. It's not enough to choose an analytics tool. Successful companies take the time to look at how organizational change gets to be addressed; from awareness, decision making, implementation, and finally institutionalizing it. His key takeaway: Not addressing a change strategy will inherently increase your risk of not achieving your objectives for your cloud analytics initiative.
Matt has more than 25 years of leadership in data and enterprise architecture in numerous industries. He has successfully delivered enterprise data transformation projects for government, telecommunication, retail, manufacturing, and financial services sectors.
Matt began consulting focusing on data warehousing in telecommunication for national providers. Over the course of his career has consulted for Oracle, IBM, and Unisys across many industries. His leadership, experience, and clarity of technical topics earned him the trust of client executive leadership. Matt’s talent to develop and lead teams is the key to his successful delivery of projects for clients.
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Matt Florian
Mustansir Saifuddin
Innovative Solution Partners 
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:03.390] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business, brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this third episode of a multipart series,  I welcome back Matt Florian of Comerit. Listen in as Matt and I discuss the importance of addressing organizational change. When you pursue a cloud analytics initiative, we'll drive into real-life scenarios to highlight the value of alignment of business and .IT
[00:00:35.440] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello Matt, welcome to Tech During Business. How are you man?
[00:00:39.370] - Matt Florian
I am doing very well. Mustansir, how are you sir?
[00:00:43.840] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Wonderful. Thank you for joining us today.
[00:00:48.490] - Matt Florian
I'm happy to be here, happy to join you once again. These have been fantastic talks and look forward to more.
[00:00:56.360] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Awesome. So I'd like to continue our discussion. I know we started this conversation some time ago where we dived into transitioning to cloud data warehouse and also looked into hybrid environments and some of the benefits that customers are reaping going that route. So today I would like to focus on organizational change in cloud analytics and why are they so important in the whole cloud journey? How does that sound to you?
[00:01:29.020] - Matt Florian
It sounds great. It's a conversation, a topic that is too often overlooked. So let's get to it.
[00:01:36.640] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. So I think let's start with the basics, right? I mean, can you help explain the role of organizational change when it comes to cloud analytics? Can you just simplify that?
[00:01:49.690] - Matt Florian
You know, it's such an important piece on the cloud analytics and like I said, it's not discussed often enough. Being in IT for over 25 years, and you and I have both been around the block quite a bit and worked with different companies of all shapes and sizes. And their failures in analytics always come down to a very common thing, and that is they didn't incorporate the change, the organizational change that is part of it. And organizational change is very difficult in and of itself. Right. The study of literature says that the estimates of organizational change initiatives failed 60% to 70% of the time, and that's something that hasn't changed since the 70s. It's just a consistent theme. So lack of having good engagement, bringing in experts like you and I to go and do this and then relying on us to actually convey it, well, that's a big cost. Because if we don't have managers involved in organizational change and institutionalizing that is who they are, then going to the cloud is not going to solve your problem.
[00:03:05.590] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. I think that being said, I know that's one of the biggest, bigger challenges especially is outside the realm of the technical delivery of objects. Right. But when you think about organizational change, what are some of the critical or change management components that customers get to have in place? Would you be able to dive into that detail about some of the critical change components that are very important?
[00:03:39.560] - Matt Florian
Sure. Organizational change, it's a body of knowledge that has been built up by business schools and organizational psychology has studied us and has given us a breadth of knowledge to build from and we have frameworks to work from. As a matter of fact, I think if you went and searched on Amazon today, you'd probably find 1000 books published in the last three or four years that talk about organizational change and how to succeed and everybody's opinion on it and what it comes down to. But I think that when you think about organizational change and you spoil it down and boil down what those 500 books, I have to say it really comes down to four really critical phases. That is awareness, making the decision to do something, implementing it and then institutionalizing it. And those are the four key phases of organizational change.
[00:04:45.490] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's good to know and those are important areas, right? Especially when it comes to something that is new and it's very broad. When you talk about cloud analytics, we are talking about a lot of different things in play. So when you mentioned those critical change components, right, is there an example that you can share with us about any one of those?
[00:05:16.910] - Matt Florian
Yeah, so awareness really starts off with business and IT both come to an agreement, a recognition that there's a problem. And the problem is that you'll see when it comes to analytics are problems like we're not achieving our organic growth metrics, we're not lowering the cost, we're not gaining insights, we're reacting instead of being proactive and respond to the market. And those are all pieces of awareness. And awareness can also be that we're not making bright investments in technology. The business has been implementing different data visualization and analytics tools all across and nobody has a common platform. So as a result, spending a lot of money on a lot of different tools that are telling you different stories and those all can lead into that awareness. With awareness we have a problem, we're not achieving our goals, we're not controlling our costs, we need to do analytics better. And that really they can lead into decision, right? And those are all problems that everybody's seen, it's nothing new. And then the decision part then is, well we got to do something about this. And where I think a lot of companies stumble is that they jump to the decision and say, we're going to go cloud analytics.
[00:06:49.390] - Matt Florian
Well, cloud analytics is not a decision, it's an architecture, it's a technology. But the decision really needs to be a collaboration between the business and IT on what that vision is. Because they went and started using other analytics tools for a reason, they went outside and did things differently for a reason. There's a need that wasn't being met. So jumping to analytics and cloud analytics isn't the answer, it's creating a shared vision is the answer. What do we want this new vision to look like? And that very well could be cloud analytics. But it's cloud analytics and other things and other things in the cloud. So that really drives into that decision. We're going to do something and we now have a shared vision of what that is. We shared the architecture and our solution and how we're all going to do this. And we're going to achieve this within some set budget, which then drives us an execution go to do it. And execution still requires a whole lot of communication, though, because during execution, we may have had a great plan of what our decision was, but the execution comes down and we have to start making changes and adjustments and react to different things along the way.
[00:08:07.470] - Matt Florian
So we need to continue to communicate because we have a shared vision. We have to keep that vision alive. Everybody still has to be on board when we get done with this development that they're going to go, this is what I wanted, this is great, I want to be part of this. Then you get to that institutionalization. And this is where I think you and I both have seen these projects stumble hard, is the consultants get done, we leave, and the business is like, well, what do I do with this? How do I work this? And you know what? That's all right. I'm just going to go back to Excel. And they didn't institutionalize the change and all the work that you did and the business along that path, they need to develop their champions and they need to develop a pipeline of champions because the business owns that institutionalization side.
[00:09:02.810] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. I think, and that's really the key message that you mentioned over here. Especially, a lot of times we see when you go into these kind of conversations, one of the biggest challenges that organizations face is these silos, right? These business units doing their own thing based on their comfort level, based on a tool they were exposed to. And those silos need to be broken down in order to have a cohesive approach in terms of going to a cloud analytics approach, right. So that takes me to my next segue question. Can you share a success story on a particular cloud analytics project where you have gone through the cycle? And what are some of the implementation steps? The right steps, I'll call the right steps to address that organizational change in that case. Can you share?
[00:10:03.340] - Matt Florian
Yeah, well, I'm glad you asked for a successful one. They are the hard ones to pull out of the hat sometimes because some projects are kind of a mixed bag of what success is. But we worked with a client just a few years ago on a self service project and doing a big move into cloud analytics space. And that project began not with a move to say we're going to do cloud analytics. That project began with the question from the IT department of what is our current visualization tools that are out there? What are people using? So we did a survey of the business and evaluated and analyzed what the different business practices and organizations are coming back with. We're using to look at the data because business assumed, IT assumed, we got this big cognitive implementation. People are just hitting this thing all the time, they're using it everywhere. And the reality was that according to the business, they were using their cloud, their Cognos to download large data sets and analyze them in other tools. So we found Tableau, we found Power BI, we found Looker, we found Alterix and we found a whole lot of Excel.
[00:11:31.460] - Matt Florian
And as I said, the business had a need and the existing structure wasn't working. So that led to that awareness and having that discussion with the business leaders of what's going on. And IT led awareness like, well, we really do need to standardize in what we're doing. Everybody has a favorite, but it's costing a lot of money. So, working with the business,  we built again, that shared vision. That said, there's a lot of people that like Power BI in that particular case. And you're already a Microsoft shop, you have a large Microsoft presence in Azure. So let's move your warehouse over to Azure and let's build a new vision of what analytics looks like and start freeing up data as data sets. So we built this model, this vision that IT would get out of the business of creating reports. And they would serve data, they would have data products. And in return, business would go and learn how to create their reports and consume the data that they needed so that both sides are being met. And the business was very much behind it. So when we built, we continued to work with the business on what this build looks like, what data sets are going to look like, and having very early testing in it, they're starting to build excitement and getting encouragement with it.
[00:12:56.550] - Matt Florian
And organizational change was a big part of this in my communication with the IT and the business owners. So we went on a roadshow, we would go and have host lunches with business stakeholders and people that are going to consume the data and say this is what the vision looks like, this is what the future is going to be, see how you can do all this stuff. And we let them go and hammer away on playing with dashboards and creating their own reports and creating excitement that says oh my God, I can go do this, I can make this happen. And when it finally came time to deploy and started deploying out different models, the business was on it and they picked up and they picked up their own community of practice, continued having champions of the data and continued to be champions of Power BI and build their own communities. And that institutionalized that change into their organization. So every now and then you'll have other trickles of Alteryx or Tableau come in from an outside consultant, but organizationally, they viewed themselves as a Power BI shop. And that's how they see themselves and that's how they react.
[00:14:07.690] - Matt Florian
And to this day, they still view themselves that way. And so it's like a good example of change, organizational change that took hold to support the deployment of a cloud analytics solution.
[00:14:21.560] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's awesome. I think that the key takeaway for our listeners from this example seems like you completely flip the conversation. Make it more like ownership factor moves towards the business versus IT, and then business kind of took it on themselves to move forward with this approach, which is definitely the way to go forward.
[00:14:47.210] - Matt Florian
With cloud analytics, IT is just an enabler of that data. The actual consumer and taking action that's business; business needs to be very much part of this.
[00:15:02.510] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. I think that kind of takes me to a conversation which is very critical, especially on some of these projects. Right. When you talk about cloud analytics, what are some of the cost implications when you don't have the right organizational change strategy in place? Because that's always on top of the mind of folks. What can go wrong, especially from a cost perspective. Can you share an example of this?
[00:15:34.960] - Matt Florian
Sure. Did you ever hear about that bridge in Alaska that they built? They built a bridge in Alaska. It's called the Bridge to Nowhere because it just built and then funding stopped. It actually ends in the middle of nothing. It doesn't connect with anything. That's exactly what happens; what will happen and can happen with an analytics project if you don't have organizational change. You run a high risk of putting a lot of money and a lot of time, investment and energy into building what could be a very transformative tool to the business to achieve goals and their objectives. And it goes nowhere. And that investment is just lost. You'll have no ROI on it because nobody uses it. And nobody uses it because that whole user experience of the business consuming the data wasn't taken into account and how they're going to change. You're asking people to stop using Excel to analyze every little thing and instead be analytics minded. That's a major shift. And it's not a badge against Excel. Excel does great things. I use Excel to do some analytics all the time. But to drive the business and to make shared collaborative decisions, you need a tool that's more informative than Excel, and you need a shared vision by the business of what it's going to be important.
[00:17:10.240] - Matt Florian
So if you're going to go and say, I want to take an analytics journey, the first question you have to ask is why and who's on the journey with you? And if you don't if you don't take business on that journey, then it's a bridge to nowhere.
[00:17:26.960] - Mustansir Saifuddin
A great example, for sure. I think that's in time and time again, a lot of folks forget about that and they want to go to the decisionmaking or the actual execution part, which is definitely very important. But without having that upfront work, which seems like this example you very clearly articulated, you will not be able to reach the goal that you set out for yourself. So I think that takes me to my closing question on this topic. What is one takeaway, one key takeaway that you want our listeners to leave with today?
[00:18:11.060] - Matt Florian
The key takeaway is that if organizational change is not part of your plan, it's not part of what's incorporated, then you might as well just put it straight over into the project risk register; that you run the risk of not achieving your project objectives. Because without it that's some semblance of this, you are going to run a high risk of not succeeding and having cost runovers by redoing things because the business was not fully on board. The business had an idea of what they wanted. But you and the business aren't in alignment on what the shared vision is and what it's going to actually take in order to make it happen. So if you don't want to run that risk, incorporate it, make it part of the project, and you will mitigate the risk. There's no risks, but you'll mitigate that.
[00:19:11.660] - Mustansir Saifuddin
What a great advice. I think I love that. I think that's one thing that if folks pay attention to it very upfront in the journey, they will pay dividends down the road. So thank you for sharing that. So I think with that, I like to thank you, Matt, for joining us. Again, look forward to more conversations on this topic.
[00:19:34.010] - Matt Florian
Thank you, I look forward to as well. As always, great talking to you Mustansir.
[00:19:43.460] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Matt shared the value of addressing organizational change as enterprises get ready to take on cloud analytics initiatives. His main takeaway if organizational change is not part of your plan, you run the risk of not achieving your project objectives. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Tuesday Nov 15, 2022

In this episode of Tech-Driven Business, Mustansir Saifuddin continues the conversation with Matt Florian of Comerit on how enterprises can leverage hybrid cloud data warehouse solutions. Matt shares the value of hybrid solutions, how to approach creating a hybrid solution, and lessons he's learned along the way. His key takeaway: focus on flexibility and resiliency in your data architecture so you can create data products that can answer multiple questions. 
Matt has more than 25 years of leadership in data and enterprise architecture in numerous industries. He has successfully delivered enterprise data transformation projects for government, telecommunication, retail, manufacturing, and financial services sectors.
Matt began consulting focusing on data warehousing in telecommunication for national providers. Over the course of his career has consulted for Oracle, IBM, and Unisys across many industries. His leadership, experience, and clarity of technical topics earned him the trust of client executive leadership. Matt’s talent to develop and lead teams is the key to his successful delivery of projects for clients.
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Matt Florian
Mustansir Saifuddin
Innovative Solution Partners 
Twitter: @MmsaifuddinYouTube
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:03.010] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. Brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this second episode of a multipart series, I welcome back Matt Florian of Comerit. Listen in as Matt and I discuss the value of hybrid cloud data warehouse solutions, including how to approach creating one, and lessons learned along the way. It's more than about just getting it in place.
[00:00:35.510] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello, Matt. Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. How are you, man?
[00:00:39.130] - Matt Florian
I'm doing very well Mustansir. How are you, sir?
[00:00:42.860] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Another beautiful day. Hey, thank you for our first conversation when we started off this whole cloud data warehouse topic, and I'd like to continue our discussion on this topic. And I think one area that I feel a lot of conversations are happening is the hybrid environment. So I thought we should talk about that in today's session and wanted to get your take on that.
[00:01:15.190] - Matt Florian
Oh, absolutely. It's a very common conversation that goes on with clients nowadays and trying to figure out what is it that they really want to go do and how much risk they want to carry on it. You'll hear hybrid pop up there every time. So I think one of the biggest problems they have is what the heck does hybrid need?
[00:01:34.090] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I hear you, and I think this will be really helpful, especially with your experience. And when you look at across the board, doesn't matter what industry you're in, it seems like customers are not ready to make that jump. Right. They are looking at ways to either extend their environments into a way that they can sustain in the short term and then plan for the long term.
[00:02:01.710] - Matt Florian
[00:02:01.930] - Mustansir Saifuddin
So this conversation would be very beneficial.
[00:02:05.820] - Matt Florian
I completely agree.
[00:02:08.890] - Mustansir Saifuddin
All right, so let's start with this. Let's start with a very basic thing. I think I would like to have my listeners get an understanding of when we talk about hybrid. What do you really mean and why hybrid? I think those two questions I like to start with.
[00:02:24.580] - Matt Florian
Sure. You think of hybrid. Hybrid's about taking two options that are very similar to each other. They have overlapping functionality and saying.
[00:02:40.720] - Matt Florian
I want the safety and security of what I've been doing, but I want to start dabbling into another way to do it. And we see that a lot with SAP customers who have a lot of security inside of being inside of BW, and then maybe they want to dabble over into cloud computing with Snowflake. And how do you do that? There's different ways that looks at you. Same thing we said, like the security of SAC, but maybe I want to use Power Bi or Sigma or something like that and balance it out, but don't extend their risk and just jump and go do it. So SAP customers don't tend to be risk heavy. They like to avert it as much as possible.
[00:03:32.590] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. And that makes sense, right? Especially when you have big landscapes and you want to manage your environment, what's the best way to do it? Right? So I guess I heard two things right, and I'm talking about benefits. It seems like you want to avoid risk as much as possible. At the same time try out new technology. Are there any other benefits that you see from your viewpoint when you take a hybrid approach?
[00:04:01.310] - Matt Florian
So the hybrid is a benefit to using hybrid is that you get to focus on a particular use case that is of value and benefit to you. And I often see customers go down that hybrid because they want to go and have more flexibility to blend SAP data with other third party data and do it just easier. And so they'll go down this hybrid approach because, well, let's face it, BW does a lot of analytics well and don't break what's really working well for you. On the other hand, wanting to know your organic growth against other metrics that come from Salesforce or other CRMs or from Google Analytics, that's a whole other dimension. And that's hybrid really can help bridge that and be able to answer some questions that SAP doesn't answer easily.
[00:05:04.990] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely, I think so. You use the SAP reference over here, right? So I guess I'll come from that angle now. So I'm an SAP customer. Why would I want to think about a hybrid solution? And I believe you kind of dabbled into the answer, but give some examples that you can think of where an SAP customer would like to go the route of hybrid.
[00:05:31.390] - Matt Florian
So a couple of immediate use cases where hybrid can come into play and really help out is let's go with archiving and being able to look at archived data along with live data. Archiving into a cloud database is one option for archiving either a system that you've migrated off and you did a brownfield implementation. So you have historical data sitting in one place and all your new data building up in another. S/4HANA sitting over here, and you want to bring that together. Well, hybrid is a good option for bringing and looking at historical data along with your current transactions. So that's one area that you may want to go and dabble in. Another good use case is that you really want to implement machine learning and AI, and you want to watch streams of data and you want to train data models for machine learning. Well, that's a hybrid approach gives just a wide open ecosystem of tools that you can use for machine learning and AI, and it would really be beneficial. Again, just easier, for sure.
[00:06:57.240] - Mustansir Saifuddin
No, I like your examples. I think kind of puts things in perspective, right? I mean, especially like I said, if things are working, you don't want to break it. At the same time, how can I bring in new ideas, new technology, or new approaches to make my environment easier to maintain and maybe more future proof as far as where I want to go in the long run, right?
[00:07:20.060] - Matt Florian
Right. Absolutely.
[00:07:23.360] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's great. So I think let's talk about when we are on that journey, especially folks who are maybe just starting or like to go this direction when we look at from a good practices point of view. Do you have any suggestions or ideas as far as timelines for keeping the hybrid environment?
[00:07:48.860] - Matt Florian
For keeping or building? What does it take to do? Is that what you're thinking?
[00:07:55.610] - Mustansir Saifuddin
So I'm thinking two ways, right. One, is a lot of times the question come up, right? If I want to go the hybrid route, what is the best way to do it? Do I have a strategy? Timline strategy like I'm going to sunset the system in a certain time frame versus going maybe a one shot approach. I'm going to shut down this existing environment and then move completely into cloud. But I feel like hybrid is becoming a lot more common practice these days. So what would be a good timeline as far as a use case that we can apply in this situation?
[00:08:40.290] - Matt Florian
Sure. So we'll go back to that migrating to S/4HANA as an example. If you're going to migrate to S/4HANA and you are going to go with a brownfield or even greenfield strategy on migrating over to that from a homegrown point of sale system to different ERP coming in, whatever it is. That's a great time to go and make that decision of, I'm going to do this hybrid and start the work even before your migration for your S/4HANA and start bringing that information in and building a common, unified model. That would be the place to start. A lot of companies begin that work way too late, and they're trying to play catch up and they want to have unified data at day one, but they don't because they didn't put in that work early enough to say, how am I going to unify my data? And there are strategies to do it, but you need to think it from the very beginning so that you have a solid strategy to make it happen. The other approach is if you're, let's say, you're going to incrementally go and build out your hybrid. In that case, you start with a very high impact use case, something that a lot of people would go and jump on and want to use, and oftentimes it's going to be directly related to sales.
[00:10:16.690] - Matt Florian
That's something that's driving top line growth and wanting to tie that to other third party. Start with a very foundational use case that you can build from and then build the processes out around that. That just builds. It just naturally grows from there.
[00:10:38.810] - Mustansir Saifuddin
For sure. You kind of touched upon two topics over here, and I like to jump a little bit deeper into this one idea that you just shared. Like, when I'm going the hybrid route, what should be the focus from an implementation perspective, when you go in the hybrid approach, what are some of the things that you should keep in mind?
[00:11:08.210] - Matt Florian
Well, you should keep in mind first what's your point of reference is going to be in that hybrid. By point of reference, the hybrid system needs to have something to anchor itself to. For instance, if you're going in and you're going to build out again, I'm going to go back to the SAP. If you're building S/4HANA out, your point of reference is that S/4HANA model and then blending processes into that S/4HANA model. So S/4HANA becomes that anchor, and then you're building out a hybrid model that is SAP plus Salesforce, SAP plus HubSpot plus Google Analytics plus Legacy. But that's your foundation. If you can keep yourself focused on a foundation topic, then you'll be successful. If you go in without that focus, then the lack of clarity creates easily, will create chaos in your hybrid, and then you'll have a high risk of your perception of failure because it didn't answer the set of questions.
[00:12:29.510] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I think that's an interesting insight, what you just shared. Because I think it seems like in order for you to keep your hybrid environment, I'm looking at how to be successful in this approach.
[00:12:47.140] - Mustansir Saifuddin
It seems like if you anchor yourself with a certain system as a starting point, it allows you or it gives you the flexibility to build it out versus going it all out and try to do too many things at the same time will set you up for failure. That's how I'm reading into that.
[00:13:05.650] - Matt Florian
It will. If you build out based upon your process areas of the business, and you build out the models from that and connect them, then you have a hybrid environment that is able to answer a whole breadth of questions because they're tied. There's a logical story being told by the data. If you don't have that focus, then the data can't tell a story. And you want that data to tell a story. And all of it has story, and some of that story is from archives, from prior implementations. But it has a story to tell. And in order to do that, you have to give it context and focus. And that's why you need to start this way. You need to keep that something to ground it.
[00:13:58.860] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think, for sure. And I think one of the things, one of the takeaways that I see from this conversation is the fact that a lot of customers may have, depending on the industry, you may have a different set of challenges where you want to use this approach. There are certain things that are working in your current environment. You want to keep that as is. But there are other things that you want to bring in multiple data sets. And you take this approach of going to Snowflake using this multiple data set approach. But having an anchor system in the middle try to leverage that as a starting point. Right?
[00:14:37.210] - Matt Florian
Yeah. Because really your anchor is if you think about it another way, your anchor is your process. What is your process today? And that is your anchor. The process is supported by a system of some sort, whatever it may be, but the process is the anchor. And using that as the point lets you go and have your insights and understanding about what it is that you're attempting to achieve.
[00:15:08.140] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That kind of takes me to this question which I always ask as one key takeaway. Right. And today's conversation is in a way fairly broad, but I like to keep it controlled and in a way that makes sense for someone who is looking this route. So what would be the one thing that you would share with them as far as if they are thinking of hybrid or they're already on a journey to hybrid? What are some of the key takeaways that you want them to leave the session?
[00:15:41.140] - Matt Florian
If you're thinking about go to hybrid and working that way, it's not going to be just focused on what that process is, but architecturally from a data perspective is that think of that hybrid in the approach of creating data products that can answer many questions. Don't try to just answer one. Build an architecture that lets you use that hybrid data as Lego blocks to build and answer other questions. Because if you try to just focus on answering a question, then you're losing other valuable insights that you can gather by blending more data. That's what your hybrid is going to do. You're going to blend data together and you have to architect with intent so that you can answer more questions and have flexibility.
[00:16:39.860] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I like your way of thinking, especially when you are looking at the future state. A lot of times folks want to take a narrow approach of getting things done, but that may not be the right answer, right.
[00:16:54.790] - Matt Florian
It's not just about getting it done. It's about architecting for the future and for your resiliency. And there are many models, many approaches, methodologies that let you architect for resiliency. And when you go down this path, that should be a guiding principle of what that hybrid is built off of, is modeled and architected for that resiliency so that you can answer many questions and be more agile in your answering your questions to the business and respond to changing economic and market conditions.
[00:17:35.660] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Great, thank you. This is really helpful.
[00:17:43.910] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Matt shared some valuable information on hybrid cloud data warehouse solutions. His main takeaway: focus on a data architecture perspective so your data can tell a story and answer multiple questions. It's not about just getting it done. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Friday Oct 07, 2022

In this next episode of Tech-Driven Business, Matt Florian of Comerit, joins Mustansir Saifuddin to talk about the urgency and motivation for companies to move to a cloud-based data warehouse. This is the beginning of a series of episodes that will dive into how newer tools, like Snowflake, are changing the landscape for companies to blend in different types of data, including their existing SAP systems.  Matt's takeaway: don't wait to start. There will always be something new coming on the horizon so start with a small project and buildup.
Matt has more than 25 years of leadership in data and enterprise architecture in numerous industries. He has successfully delivered enterprise data transformation projects for government, telecommunication, retail, manufacturing, and financial services sectors.
Matt began consulting focusing on data warehousing in telecommunication for national providers. Over the course of his career has consulted for Oracle, IBM, and Unisys across many industries. His leadership, experience, and clarity of technical topics earned him the trust of client executive leadership. Matt’s talent to develop and lead teams is the key to his successful delivery of projects for clients.
Connect with Us:LinkedIn:
Matt Florian,
Mustansir Saifuddin,
Innovative Solution Partners,
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript:
[00:00:03.690] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. Brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this first episode of a multipart series, I welcome Matt Florian of Comerit. Listen in as Matt shares his thoughts on why companies are moving to a cloud data warehouse with such a sense of urgency. With data volumes growing, it's important for companies to take advantage of the power of new technology tools that Matt talks about, including snowflake.
[00:00:35.510] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello, Matt. How are you?
[00:00:37.600] - Matt Florian
I'm doing fine Mustansir how are you?
[00:00:40.090] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Doing well. Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. It's a pleasure to have you on my show.
[00:00:46.160] - Matt Florian
I'm very grateful to be a member of it and be part of this with you, man.
[00:00:51.710] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Awesome. So today we will kick off basically the idea is to kick off a series of podcasts which will revolve around cloud based data warehouses. And we would like to dive into this topic of why companies are transitioning to cloud based data warehouses. Right. And at the same time, what are some of the benefits that they are getting with this move? How does that sound to you?
[00:01:18.420] - Matt Florian
That sounds great. Let's get talking.
[00:01:21.110] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Awesome. Okay. I know this topic is very near and dear to you, and I'm very glad that we have you on our show, and this will be a great conversation. So let's start with our why, right? So why it is so important right now, moving to a cloud based data warehouse? And the urgency. I think there's two components of this. Right. Why is it important for companies and the same time? What is the urgency behind it?
[00:01:47.800] - Matt Florian
Sure. Well, I think that a lot of companies have taken a fair amount of time in the last several years of getting their processes in place and fixing processes with implementations of like SAP and other large ERP. At the same time, you have other parts of the business that are trying to get process in place with a Salesforce or other CRM and other tools out there like that. And each of these platforms, they've been operating fairly independently. And you can do a lot outside of SAP, but getting the full value, I think businesses are looking to get leverage, full value of those implementations, that investment by blending that data with other data, with other stuff. And that's why there's a big urgency and a big move, because it's just being able to do that and do it easily.
[00:02:48.940] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That makes sense. Yeah. I think one key word that I got out of this conversation is you mentioned SAP being a central focal point for a lot of companies, but at the same time, they do have these other systems where they want to bring in this information together and blend it together.
[00:03:08.220] - Matt Florian
And even we see this a lot with SAP implementation right. That SAP is able to manage a good part of the process, but it doesn't always manage all of the process. There's still other third party applications outside of the SAP ecosystem that are part of the business process and part of the outcomes of the business. And so if you're measuring your outcomes, you have to look at all that data together for sure.
[00:03:37.760] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That brings up another point. What are some of the benefits of moving to the cloud? We talk about cloud in a lot of different contexts. Like when you talk about data warehouse and going to a data warehouse based cloud, what are some of the benefits that you see?
[00:03:52.090] - Matt Florian
Well, a lot of the new modern data warehouse and cloud applications up there for data management focus, the purchasing and how you procure that is a whole different paradigm today than it was even five years ago. Five years ago, we talked about moving to the cloud and putting stuff into Azure data warehouse or Amazon Redshift. And when you did that, that was good. But you're buying capacity way up front. And some of the more modern warehouses I try not to use the warehouse term overboard here, but the modern data platforms out there really moved over to a utility model where you're charged just for what you're actually using. And combining that with serverless technology, where you're spinning up compute as needed on demand and scaling it, all things that we can't do in even some of the traditional AWS infrastructure and definitely could not do on-premise. So we have such flexibility to solve big problems with data with these cloud applications done smart.
[00:05:15.260] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, I think the key word I hear from a lot of customers, and you mentioned it a couple of times here, is scalability. Right. And then the ability to control that which is not available or which was not available earlier in the traditional data platforms, if you want to use that terminology. Right. So it's a big win, especially when the data volumes are growing at a very rapid pace. And you do want to have that flexibility. And I think you do get both of them with this new move or the benefits that customers are seeing in real time now.
[00:05:56.860] - Matt Florian
And if you think about we pick on SAC for a minute. We think about the infrastructure that we have to design and build out for SAP. For a lot of those implementations, you have to preplan everything that you're going to do. And once you go outside of that planned infrastructure, then it requires replanning. And so businesses will often limit themselves to what data they're going to do in there, not because of the limitations of data, but limitations of the infrastructure. So if I can change that dynamic and say, let's do this over in, say, a Snowflake data platform and do this inside a snowflake or inside a Snowflake, I can scale that infrastructure, the compute resources up and out dynamically. And that's something that you really cannot do inside of an SAP here and even in Azure data warehouse couldn't do that kind of scaling. So anybody that's able to make that easy like Snowflake did, that is a proof point right there to why we should move into the cloud.
[00:07:16.390] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, definitely. That makes sense. I think that being said, let's talk about some of the choices available. I think that is one of the key questions a lot of customers are looking for now after COVID has been over. There seems to be a lot of things are happening in the cloud, especially with the amount of choices customers have. I mean, would you like to share some experiences about what are some of the data platform choices that are available and how to the stack up from your perspective?
[00:07:52.460] - Matt Florian
Well, we've had opportunities to do cloud computing, cloud build, data warehouse in the cloud for several years now. And AWS and even Azure were very early into the gate of what you could do and they followed a model that was that procurement model inside of the cloud that says, hey, buy this much free capacity and you want to purchase that capacity. And that worked well. And I tell you, when we first did some Azure data warehouses, those warehouses screamed, we moved stuff off of Legacy to onprem into Azure and it was performing tremendously, but it also didn't scale. And how we moved data in was more complicated and it kept a lot of the Legacy mentality about infrastructure in place that you had to pre plan for. And so we didn't really see all the benefits that we should have seen out of it. The same can be said with AWS and Redshift, same kind of mentality, same idea. And it wasn't really until they said that Snowflake model came out that disrupted the marketplace. And I think you hear so much about Snowflake as being one of the predominant tools and platforms talked about today.
[00:09:30.510] - Matt Florian
That's because it's utility, right? If I can service 50 queries with one set of compute, then I'm only charged for that one set of compute for the seconds in which I use it and then it turns off. And if I need to go and open up another room, it's like having you a big conference center. If I can service everybody in one room, great, I'm paid for one room. But if I need to spill out into three rooms, I can just spill out the three rooms, turn the lights on and run it until I don't need those other two rooms again, and then come back down into the one without any interactions, without any really taking action. And that's such a big difference in the compute and how we think about data. But it also required at the same time that we end up needing to change how we think about how we're putting data in and building that data. It's a complete mind shift entirely.
[00:10:34.240] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That makes sense. I think that's the key piece, right? How you are able to get the flexibility and then control what you want and what you don't want at any given time, which is a lot of customers are asking for, especially when they don't know what the end state is going to look like. Right. I mean, this is what I need now, but it may change in a few months depending on what kind of information they want to bring into the platform and use it. Right. So that makes a lot of sense. Well, let's move away from this topic. Let's talk about on a personal note. You've been doing this technology for quite some time. What are some of the biggest accomplishment that you see you have accomplished over your personal or your professional career biggest.
[00:11:26.820] - Matt Florian
Accomplishments besides maintaining a career as long as I have, that itself can be an accomplishment. But there you go. It's funny, early on in my career, I was on a project when I worked as a consultant for IBM and we built an Oncology database for Emory University. And this database, the contract issues can be run into, but the client really wanted a Cadillac for a database and platform that they had, but they had the money for a Yugo instead. And we built just a very streamlined platform and data engineering to build out this Oncology database and take all this clinical data that in the end off of a low cost ETL tool that at the end of the year end up winning awards for the actual design and implementation because it wouldn't identify all these clusters. All these clusters where cancer was occurring and fed and resulted in policy changes and all this great stuff that happened with it. It was done off of a low cost solution to a big problem. And when you can achieve something like that, simplicity to solve something big, man Elvis doesn't get much better than that.
[00:13:11.140] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's a great story. I think at the end of the day, I think it's just a lot of folks talk about data and building these huge data warehouse solutions, right? What is that? It's solving, right? And if you are solving a business case where the organization can see the value right off the bat, and I think that's what really stands out and that's what I got out of this story. So really awesome. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I think this is really good. So that kind of gets me into my next question. It's a nice segue, which is the real meat of this conversation, right. How can organizations make the right choice? I mean, there's a lot of choices, like you mentioned earlier, how can organizations make the right choice of picking the cloud data warehouse that works for them? What would you tell them?
[00:14:04.990] - Matt Florian
So what I would tell them is to stop and take a look at what their end goal is for analytics and what it is that they're what type of measures and outcomes they're really trying to get at and build from there. Don't try to jump to the finish line without building a good quality data pipeline. We can rebuild things so much faster than what we used to. Now that being resistant to changing this because you're afraid of the cost and effort that it will take to rebuild your pipelines, that you have the tools that exist today. We can rapidly build and improve on pipelines. So it's taking a look at all the tools that you have and getting down to again, the simplest set of solutions to solve your biggest problems is achievable and it can be done.
[00:15:12.490] - Mustansir Saifuddin
It seems like, to me, it seems like almost like know your end state and then kind of work backwards. And as long as you can see your end state as an organization, I think it's much easier to make the right choice in terms of these clusters of choices out there for customers.
[00:15:29.470] - Matt Florian
Yep. And we help customers with that all the time.
[00:15:33.260] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Definitely. I think that's the key word, right. Especially when there are choices, there are always confusion. And the confusion takes over the choices sometimes and it feels like you're going in a direction but you're not sure if the direction is correct or not unless you have that insights like you mentioned. Start with the end state and then look back and see what you need to achieve and how you can achieve that. Right, so that's a great advice.
[00:16:01.910] - Matt Florian
It's confusion and just being stuck in old ways of thinking.
[00:16:27.210] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's the mindset. Right. And we talk about change management, especially when it comes to going to the cloud based data platforms. There is a huge change management involved in this whole process.
[00:16:27.210] - Matt Florian
Yeah, we could have a whole episode just on the change management of going to the cloud
[00:16:28.840] - Mustansir Saifuddin
and that's the goal. So I think what you want to do with this episode right now is to kind of set the stage of what's coming next. Especially we talk about the choices, we talked about what should be the right way to go, move forward, especially when you are trying to start on this journey or maybe you're in the middle of the journey and you're not seeing the results. Right. All of those different topics that we will cover them as we move along in this series. What is one of the key takeaways that you want to leave with the listeners today?
[00:17:03.710] - Matt Florian
The key takeaway for those that are looking at cloud analytics and go into the cloud is to not wait to take that journey. Start it, you can start it with a small project and then build up, but start the journey and start getting there and going through that transformation. It's not a painful transformation, but it is a transformation and start making it happen. Don't wait, don't wait for the next thing to come out. There's always something else coming out, but there's some outstanding tools to go and make that move today, and there's no reason to wait anymore.
[00:17:49.160] - Mustansir Saifuddin
What a great advice. Thank you for sharing that. I think that's what I'm hearing, and I keep seeing that time is of essence, right? Especially when folks are looking at moving that leap of fate into this new platform. It seems like the approach has changed in the past. You're planning it out for so long and then you get on the journey. Now it seems like the journey is almost here for you. You just need to get on it and move on forward.
[00:18:21.860] - Matt Florian
[00:18:24.190] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Well, it's a great conversation with you, Matt, and I'm really glad that we were able to cover this topic today.
[00:18:36.640] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to tech-driven business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Matt gave a great overview on the power of a cloud based data warehouse and why organizations should consider the move. His main takeaway? Don't wait. Start with a small project and build up. There will always be something new to come down the pipeline. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting us at Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Monday Sep 19, 2022

In this next episode of Tech-Driven Business, Mustansir Saifuddin continues the conversation with Hau Ngo of  Summerlin Analytics to discuss what enterprises should consider when choosing a tool like SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC). They cover everything from system landscape, data sources, visuals, security, and cost considerations. His key takeaway: look at how an analytics tool fits into your business, timeline, and total cost of ownership.
Hau is an SAP Analytics Architect and an early adopter of SAP Analytics Cloud. In 2017, he helped a technology company in California consolidate global sales reporting across 7 different ERP systems. This effort culminated in one executive dashboard that displayed real-time information, eliminating weeks of manual coordination and data wrangling. Subsequently, Hau has presented his work at conferences such as SAPPHIRE 2019 in Orlando Florida, and has gone onward to help additional customers streamline their reporting processes and visualize the key company metrics. His experience with SAP Analytics Cloud extends to customers with various systems such as SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, BW/4HANA, and S/4HANA. 
Connect with Us:
Hau Ngo,
Mustansir Saifuddin,
Innovative Solution Partners 
Twitter: @MmsaifuddinYouTube
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:05.170] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. Brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this episode, I welcome back Hau Ngo of Summerlin Analytics. Listen in as he shares key points to consider when choosing an analytics tool like SAP Analytics Cloud or SAC.
[00:00:27.750] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello, how are you, man?
[00:00:29.530] - Hau Ngo
I'm doing well, Mustansir how are you doing?
[00:00:32.610] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Doing well. Welcome to Tech-Driven Business again.
[00:00:36.030] - Hau Ngo
I'm good to be here. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:38.470] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Awesome. Hey, so I know we've been kind of talking about different topics so far, and today I would like to kind of zoom in into this very important point where a lot of customers, when we talk about considering SAC as their cloud analytics tool of choice. What are some of the considerations they should take into account? That's how I'm thinking we can dig a little bit deeper, at least from a cloud analytics point of view.
[00:01:11.490] - Hau Ngo
Yeah. So it really depends on what their system landscape looks like, if they have the legacy ECC or S/4, or maybe they have a BW or HANA Data Warehouse. So all those decisions sort of come into play. And I don't think a lot of customers are aware that SAC Analytics Cloud as a tool has different functionality depending on what you have on the back- end. So we can talk about that in this episode.
[00:01:43.230] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Absolutely. And I think that kind of is a good segue to what I was alluding to earlier. When we talk system landscapes, it means a lot of different things depending on who you're asking. In this example, I'll use the system landscape, especially from a data source point of view. Especially when we're talking about creating models in SAC and those visuals, how does that come into play when you're dealing with, let's say, for example, an ECC source system or an S/4 for that matter, or compared to a non-SAP source, what are some of the things that you should take into account when creating your SAC models?
[00:02:30.070] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. So one thing SAP does really well is they market their tool in terms of features and benefits and everything you can do from a Dashboarding perspective. I think the inherent problem, though, is SAP has such a large product matrix that it's hard to say, does this feature work here versus another one? So if you're using the legacy ECC as a source, there's really nothing you can do in terms of getting around it. You have to have some sort of data warehouse because SAP Analytics Cloud works best with a proper data warehouse. But if you happen to have an S/4 system, you can connect your dashboarding tool directly to S/4. And I was going to say on my first project in late 2017-2018, the integration between the front-end Analytics Cloud and all the back-end system weren't fully fleshed out or developed at that time. But if you were to fast forward to today, you're almost looking at feature parity for all the different systems. Before, it used to be that we have to import the data into the tenant, into the cloud tenant first, to have everything in terms of all the functionality, all the utility of the tool.
[00:03:46.820] - Hau Ngo
But now a lot of that feature set is rolled out to BW, to the HANA data warehouse, of course, data warehouse, cloud, and now even S/4. So there are differences now, but they're getting much less and smaller between the different systems.
[00:04:04.770] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's good to know, because especially you see, a lot of customers have a mixed bag of systems and depending on whatever source system they are using, it seems like the tool itself is capable of consuming that data, right. In a way that is, from a user standpoint, it doesn't really matter what is the source, it's just the visuals. And the tool itself can mask that from them, right?
[00:04:34.680] - Hau Ngo
Yes, absolutely. And then I think in certain cases, I think my current client now we're exploring even a use case, a dual use case where some reports come from their BW system that we're initiating, and then a different set of reports come from S/4. But the UI, the interface is still SAC, so to the user is transparent, but depending on the use case, it could come from a data warehouse or their transactional system.
[00:05:03.690] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Right. And I think that kind of brings up this point. Right? The lines are getting blurry when it comes to the data itself. Right. It is real time information versus data stored in a warehouse and being consumed based on whatever frequency is getting updated, right?
[00:05:22.310] - Hau Ngo
Yep, absolutely.
[00:05:24.810] - Mustansir Saifuddin
So, talking about tips, right? Can you share some ideas or tips that when it comes to using different visuals in SAC, are there any best practices or any ideas that you like to share?
[00:05:43.410] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. So the cloud itself, the tool itself, Analytics Cloud, has a number of different chart visualizations and they're categorized primarily by function. For example, you have a group of bar charts for comparisons. If you want to see trends, there are a set of line graphs, and then there's pie graphs and tree maps for distribution. So you have a good number of chart types to choose from, depending on what you wish to communicate with. That being said, the three that I've seen the most on my last ten projects has been bar, number one, numeric, the large numbers, the aggregation as number two, and tables as number three. And what I found early on, when I try to experiment with all the different chart types, it tends to confuse people if they're not statisticians. Right. You can't just throw a scatter plot and assume people know what that means. So what I find is most people tend to stick to those three bar numeric and table as the three most common chart types. If you stick with that and start from there, you should be in good shape.
[00:06:57.150] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's a good tip. I mean, keep it simple. It seems like the more simple you keep, the better usability you get out of that, right?
[00:07:05.940] - Hau Ngo
Absolutely. And a lot of these folks, they do generate their existing dashboard from Excel. And if you were to look and use the existing dashboard from the managerial report deck, they almost typically use those three chart types.
[00:07:23.270] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think one of the things that I'm looking at from a prerequisite point of view, talking about, what are some of the prerequisites required for a client. When they're using SAC as a self service tool? Because it's almost like a parallel, right. Things that are done currently in Excel, especially when you're doing some kind of manager or reporting that you want to customize in Excel and you want to take those skills into SAC. So what are some of the things that they should have in place from a prerequisite standpoint if they want to use this as a self service tool?
[00:08:04.000] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. So I think that may be a two part answer. From a personnel or staffing perspective, I would suggest that our audience consider finding someone, whether they be internal or external, who is excited about dashboards and what this tool can do for the company. And I'm not talking about the technical features of the tool, but the way the tool itself can benefit someone's day to day chores or workload. And now imagine if you were a business analyst and you can tell your team that they don't have to open their laptop and log into SAP to see the numbers. And that would be cool, because if they got an email each morning with a full color PDF with all information they needed, that simplifies and cuts out that friction. Right. And for the field staff, if they could open up a phone or a small tablet and get the customer sales history before going to a sales meeting, that would be easier than what they're using now. And from a technical perspective, companies with an S/4 landscape should consider SAC as a reporting tool of choice. I'm working on a proof of concept where I'm embedding the SAC dashboards into the S/4 environment for a customer, and maybe we can talk about that on a future episode.
[00:09:28.670] - Hau Ngo
But if you have a BW or Hana data warehouse and you're deciding between SAC or another cloud based tool, then I would strongly suggest you consider SAC. And that's because you get tighter integration with live data connections and you don't really have to worry about the security.
[00:09:48.550] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure. And I think that kind of is a good segue into my next question, which is all about leveraging what you already have in place, right. So when you are dealing with an S/4 or data warehouse cloud source system, what are some of the quick wins when you want to leverage the security models the roles definition that you have in your source system, do you have some examples that you can share with us?
[00:10:17.800] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. So I would say the quickest wins you can do when you're going in and highlighting the features of a new tool is to eliminate the unnecessary things that you would have to do, which is building data model, model data validation, and setting up security. If you could connect your dashboard to existing data warehouse or S/4 system, you're halfway there. And the beauty of SAC in terms of integration is there is no security. You inherit the security profiles of your source system, whether it's BW Hana or S/4. And the front end tool with single sign on respects all of the privileges you set up versus another tool where you have to kind of maintain or even duplicate that setting. With SAC, you don't have to worry about it, single sign on takes care of all of that.
[00:11:13.790] - Mustansir Saifuddin
I think that can go a long way, right? I mean, I'm thinking from the ease of use as well as the ease of deployment. It seems like if I can leverage my source systems for my security and my roles that are already in place, it can make much easier for folks to kind of leverage that information. That mapping that is already in place.
[00:11:40.450] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, I would say it's an easier sell. And also long term, there's only one point of failure. There's no dual maintenance that someone has to maintain in different systems. So I think it's an easier path as well. In terms of the actual tool itself, you can have some limitation in terms of whether user is a content viewer where they can consume the information or if they're a power user. Right. But in terms of the actual line by line, row by row authorization, let that be taken care of centrally in either your data warehouse or your S/4 system.
[00:12:18.830] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Okay, that makes sense. Now, what are the opportunities? It seems like that's a good feature to have. Right. And that comes out of the box from SAC if you want to do any additional security in SAC because I know there are some planning functionalities as well as just pure reporting and dashboarding capabilities. Are there features available in SAC that allow you to further customize your securities or the role?
[00:12:49.410] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, sure. So for some customers, they have data sets that they upload, whether they're doing manual compiling of information or planning or something like that. You can still set up security inside analytics cloud from a team perspective. So you can define team roles where certain team members can see the financial information but other team members cannot. So there are some security functionality, but it's more around who can see what sensitive information that's maybe not in your systems, but in these confidential flat files.
[00:13:29.990] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's good to know because I think your point earlier, right, when you talked about source systems, and especially when you're dealing with multiple source systems, it seems like it may be a better idea to have SAC drive some of the security of the role definitions. Right, because you have a mixed bag of information coming in to your models.
[00:13:48.530] - Hau Ngo
Yes, absolutely.
[00:13:50.930] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Good to know that. It's interesting when you look at this overall, we talk about everybody's looking at cloud analytics as the way to go and it's just so much simpler and the technology has advanced so much across the board. Right. It seems like the most logical choice for customers to move forward in the direction. Would you say so?
[00:14:17.290] - Hau Ngo
I would say so. I think what you're going to see moving forward is maybe not SAP specific, but more cloud based technology. Just because from a deployment perspective, the vendor only has to maintain one instance or one master copy of the tool. It's just so much easier to use than what I think we've had a struggle with in the past, where even though a lot of customers are doing similar things, we have to have our own installation on custom repository. Here I've noticed at least on the early days, SAP was rolling out features every two weeks and it was really hard to keep up. But now the products seem to have matured a lot more. So I think at this point we're going to focus more on usability versus features.
[00:15:07.910] - Mustansir Saifuddin
For sure. I know we covered a lot of different things in the session. Would you like to share any one key takeaway that our listeners can take it with them?
[00:15:19.750] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. So we talk about SAC quite often and some of the different considerations for implementing this tool. But overall there are other tools and if you consider implementation and tool selection in a broader perspective, I've been lucky to be in a few early conversations during the tool selection phase and most customers seem to struggle with either SAC or another cloud based tool such as Power BI or Tableau and deciding which one to use. And most of the time the conversation seems to be centered around features versus cost between these tools. And what I've seen in terms of outcome from a couple of these meetings with different companies is that the SAP centric customer tends to stay under the SAP umbrella due to the tighter integration and security benefits that we spoke about. And other customers with non SAP systems in the mix choose the other tools because they have similar features at a lower cost. But that cost saving is usually offset by higher development times. So that's just the cost of doing business when you're integrating different systems. But that's just something to think about.
[00:16:42.830] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, and that's a good tip, right. And a good takeaway, especially when you have all these choices available to you. One thing that folks tend to leave behind is the fact that sometimes costs can be a factor in most cases, it is a factor. But what is the cost? Are you looking at the cost at this point in time, or are you looking at a future cost perspective? Especially when you're doing integration? Right. And this is all about maintaining your systems in the long run, right. So you have to keep that in mind.
[00:17:18.090] - Hau Ngo
Yes, absolutely. I think a lot of customers, they're very intelligent, but sometimes they get too focused on a certain thing and they get tunnel vision. But like you said, if you were to step back and look at the total cost of ownership of not only the tool, but maintenance, and will this be accepted? And which tool can actually be embraced by the business community? So those factors are taken into account. I would leave, I guess, the audience with one thing. People now are more impatient than they were in the past, because at the speed of things and their expectations have changed. Right. So app development, dashboard development, it's much faster. And if your tool can meet that demand from your customer base, then you're golden. The fact that you can whip up a dashboard in an hour or two is great, but if you're taking three months to get a lower cost tool up and running, that might be a deal breaker for your community, for sure.
[00:18:20.070] - Mustansir Saifuddin
And that's a great takeaway. I mean, it's something to keep in mind, especially when you're doing any cloud based analytics, right? What is the time to delivery that matters? Thank you so much, how. This has been a great session. Thanks for some of the insights into what things we should consider, especially when you're going with SAP analytics cloud as a tool of choice. So really appreciate your time and we'll look forward to meeting with you in the future.
[00:18:47.940] - Hau Ngo
Yes, absolutely. Have a good one, Mustansir.
[00:18:50.930] - Mustansir Saifuddin
You too.
[00:18:55.770] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business, brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Hau has shared some key pointers for you to think about when choosing SAC. His main takeaway? Look at the bigger picture when choosing a tool. Be careful when being driven by cost. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.

Wednesday Sep 07, 2022

In this next episode of Tech-Driven Business, Mustansir Saifuddin continues the conversation with Hau Ngo of Summerlin Analytics to discuss how to approach data modeling and visualization when using SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC). Hau first joined us for a 6-part series in 2021 to talk about SAC and what it means to enterprises as they move to the cloud. Hau and Mustansir share real-life tips on how to approach this depending on your team and company. Listen in for quick takeaways that you can put in to place today. As the tech industry moves to simpler tools, data modeling plays an even more important role.
Hau is an SAP Analytics Architect and an early adopter of SAP Analytics Cloud. In 2017, he helped a technology company in California consolidate global sales reporting across 7 different ERP systems. This effort culminated in one executive dashboard that displayed real-time information, eliminating weeks of manual coordination and data wrangling. Subsequently, Hau has presented his work at conferences such as SAPPHIRE 2019 in Orlando Florida, and has gone onward to help additional customers streamline their reporting processes and visualize the key company metrics. His experience with SAP Analytics Cloud extends to customers with various systems such as SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, BW/4HANA, and S/4HANA. 
Connect with Us:
Hau Ngo
Mustansir Saifuddin
Innovative Solution Partners 
Twitter: @Mmsaifuddin
or learn more about our sponsor Innovative Solution Partners to schedule a free consultation.  
Episode Transcript
[00:00:06.010] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. Brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this episode, I welcome back Hau Ngo of Summerlin Analytics listen in as he talks about the importance of balancing data modeling with visualization to get the most out of your investment in SAP analytics Cloud or SAC.
[00:00:34.110] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hello Hau, how are you?
[00:00:37.110] - Hau Ngo
I'm doing well, Mustansir, how are you?
[00:00:39.570] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Hey, doing great, man. Welcome to Tech-Driven Business. Again, today we will talk about the balancing act they call it, especially when you talk about SAC. And you have so many different variables in terms of the data modeling part, the data visualization, and what is the right balance. That's what I want to talk about today.
[00:01:06.070] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure, yeah. I think it gets a little bit tricky, I think now with this newer tool because you can do so much with it. Before we used to just do everything in either ABAP or BW and you just have like a table dump either in Excel or an LB grid. But now with SAC, you can still do a little bit of data modeling. You can define calculations so the lines are blurred, like where do you do which things? Right? And I think in terms of what I would suggest for a good data model in this new paradigm, I would try to have all your work done on the back end, meaning you would have all your calculations done in either S/4 or BW or Data Warehouse Cloud, and treat SAC as a read-only layer. So SAC as a reporting layer, just read what you've written and leave that. Now of course there's some give and take, some things are easier in SAC, but I think for the most part, make sure everything is done on the source system and you should be off to a good start.
[00:02:13.930] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Interesting. So what seems like a good data model in your example that you just shared? It's almost like do more of the heavy lifting on the back end, which can be either S/4 or Data Warehouse Cloud or any other system for that matter, as long as you can connect to SAC and then use SAC as almost like your reporting layer. But create your stories, but avoid more detailed calculations and modeling in SAC.
[00:02:47.170] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, exactly. Because if you start reading into the technical documentation, SAC explains the technology in this way. Each widget, each table that you see in your dashboard is a separate report or query call to the back end. So if you're doing a lot of heavy lifting on the front end, inside Analytics Cloud, it has to do that X times per widget. So we have nine or twelve there's nine or twelve separate calls. It's going to fetch a lot of data and then you're going to do a lot of calculations in your browser and that may slow it down.
[00:03:27.770] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, that's for sure. I mean, the number of widgets does impact your so, I mean, when we talk about widgets, especially, I've seen some dashboards or stories that can go from a single pager to multiple pages. Is there a good definition of exactly how many visuals you can have or you should have just to make your dashboards more robust?
[00:03:56.110] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure, yeah. If you're looking for like a really responsive, quick rendering type dashboard, something that the user can open and see the data right away. The approach I've been taking is if you can break up your stories into multiple pages, I think SAP still recommends having only six at most charts per page, which is kind of sparse, to be honest. I typically run between nine and twelve per page, but if you can render all of your stuff on different pages, you only have to load those widgets per navigation. So typically I build for directors and executives, and they almost always want to see an overview page, which is like one chart type from one page, another chart type for another page, and they want to see specific things on the overview, and as they go from page to page, they go into a more specific look or drill down into their data. But if you can break it up, it renders much faster. If you can stick with the simpler chart types, like bar charts, numeric, pie, anything that's not a table, you should be in good shape.
[00:05:13.230] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That makes sense. Yeah, especially those cards are very useful. As you mentioned, when you're working with the C-levels, the information can be readily available. It's easy to grasp what's being presented on the initial overview page.
[00:05:27.230] - Hau Ngo
[00:05:28.290] - Mustansir Saifuddin
So that kind of leads me to my next question. This is good because we always get this inquiry, especially when you're dealing with a source, especially when you have multiple source systems feeding into your SAC model. Right. What constitutes like, a model, especially when you're dealing with data warehouse and S/4, what would you prefer?Usually you see from your experience, do you see a blend of those data sources or do you see a single data source and then working with that on the SAC side?
[00:06:16.520] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, I would say typically when we first start off on a project, I see a blend and then it moves into a centralized data warehouse. And I say that because with SAC, you can get things up and running pretty quickly. So we can leverage this trick called in browser blending where you can say, I have data coming from multiple things. I want to them all mashed together on a dashboard. And if I were to select something like company code, that selection applies to all of the chart types regardless of the source of data. So to get those types of dashboards up and running quickly, to make sure that the information you're presenting is clear, understandable is what the user is looking for. That is a great starting point, but almost always you run into the data integration issue and that's almost always better done in a data warehouse because the tools are made for that.
[00:07:13.310] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, that makes sense. Well, especially I'm just thinking of a scenario where you have a need to quickly bring something up, especially when you're dealing with executives and they want information on their fingertips, and you try to kind of get information directly from the source system versus a model based on a data warehouse, things can get a little tricky.
[00:07:42.260] - Hau Ngo
Yes. And with this tool, also, you get around that trick or that tricky scenario by showing these executives what you can do with the tool before committing three to six months into a lengthy implementation. They want to see what's possible upfront, and if they want to invest that fund towards that effort.
[00:08:04.380] - Mustansir Saifuddin
It's a great advice, actually. I like that. So what I'm hearing is you can do a quick show and tell and then see what the capabilities are and how the tool can interact with a transactional system versus a data warehouse. And then once things are the way it's supposed to be from a business standpoint, you can create a model behind the scenes. Right. To make it more the reusability seems to go up, correct? Is that my understanding?
[00:08:37.110] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, exactly. I consider this more like a high fidelity mock up where you're using production data. They're familiar with the figures, and you can get them most of the way there with business content. So regardless of which system that you have, the tools are there for you to kind of take apart and blend together in your browser with this tool.
[00:09:00.410] - Mustansir Saifuddin
For sure. Yeah. So let me ask you this. Based on your experience, I know you talked about you've done multiple SAC implementations in your experience. Anything that stuck out for you, like, any example that you would like to share with our listeners?
[00:09:14.760] - Hau Ngo
Yeah. So this is going to be, I would say, a tricky one to answer because I work with large teams where the project budget is $400 million, and then I work with small teams where it's just me plus the client, because newer companies are being formed now through divestiture where there's a larger firm, they spin off a smaller subdivision or subsidiary. And those folks, they know what they want. They're used to having information in a certain way, but they no longer have the staff or the team to deliver that. So I would say if you don't have a data warehouse, don't worry, you can use this tool. You can use other cloud based dashboard tool with your source data, whether it's ECC or S/4. But as you get more mature and as you consider purchasing a data warehouse, maybe you don't even need a large team for that either, because now SAP has another tool called Data Warehouse Cloud, which is a cloud based data warehousing tool that doesn't require the large upfront cost and the team to implement.
[00:10:25.400] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That interesting. Yeah. I think the way the industry is going depending on the size of the implementation and the requirements. Right. You can take multiple approaches and there's no right or wrong answer. It depends on what your requirements are at that point in time, right?
[00:10:54.870] - Hau Ngo
Yes, exactly. And it seems like now the tools are advancing that in a way that we can do more with less and we can get things done quicker than before. So it's pretty exciting.
[00:11:08.430] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure, I think. And that's the key piece, right? I mean, you can spin up a dashboard in a matter of days and hours versus weeks and months. That used to be the case in the past.
[00:11:19.540] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, exactly.
[00:11:23.050] - Mustansir Saifuddin
That's an interesting segue into this idea of like, folks talk about getting things quickly and that means that a lot of times a lot of projects want to bypass our data warehouse. Right. What are your thoughts on that? What would be your advice to them or the right way to do it?
[00:11:47.290] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. So if they're, I would say relatively small and nimble in terms of company size, you can create beautiful dashboards with S/4 data. You don't need a data warehouse if you happen to run S/4, so that there's a lot of business content there that you can leverage and extend. But if you are looking at a data warehouse, like I mentioned, data warehouse cloud is an option. But a lot of these cloud based tools, they seem to work better and they seem to work across different data sources as well. I would say just go ahead and give it a try. The takeaway here isn't so much the tool, it's trying to get the user buy in from your business. So I would focus more on that before really focusing on how do we do it, making sure if this is something that the users want to get done.
[00:12:44.470] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure. I think that is probably one of the key takeaways. I always ask this question because my listeners like to hear, especially when you're talking about these kind of insights. What is the one takeaway when you talk about the balancing act between data modeling and data visualization when it comes to SAC?
[00:13:07.510] - Hau Ngo
Oh, sure. I think in the past we used to have, I would call them clunkier tools like business objects or Lumira, where you need a dedicated resource or team of resources to maintain the server to do the development. What I've seen now is the transition to simpler tools, both the front end and the back end, the SAC visualization tool and the data warehousing tool that's coming out because they're so much easier to use. I would focus less on the reporting visualization need in SAC because you can get a dashboard out and running in an hour if everything is really clearly defined, so the effort is much less. Right. But the classic problem exists if you happen to be doing a lot of data transformation or merging data from different places, the data modeling efforts still remains, even though you can get it done quicker. The effort between visualization reporting versus back end modeling, the ratio is now leaning more on the back end. So before, if it's three to six months on the back end, maybe a month on the front end. Now it's more like a day at most on the front end, depending on how many revisions you want to go to.
[00:14:38.760] - Hau Ngo
But the data validation is still there on the back end. So I would focus more on hiring developers for the back end who knows what they're doing and are familiar with the process. More so on the back end than the front end.
[00:14:52.450] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah. So I think it kind of leads up to that question about how do you architect your data? Right. In your source system? And what is that? The possibility of pulling the information in a way that it makes sense from whatever the business KPI that you're working on, correct?
[00:15:09.250] - Hau Ngo
Yes, absolutely. And you'll find, as you know, the time sync is validation and there's really nothing that you can do to get around that, depending on how many sources of data you're combining, transforming, and the complexity that is still there.
[00:15:25.570] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Yeah, for sure. And that's probably not going to go away until you have all these different definitions of the key indicators and how you measure it. And every company, every organization has their own way of doing it. So as long as that is well defined and well published, the front end work seems like it's become a lot more easier and better in terms of the visualization with Sac.
[00:15:56.170] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, absolutely.
[00:15:58.450] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Great. Hey, it's been great talking to you. How really good insights in today's session. Look forward to our next coming up soon. Thank you so much.
[00:16:09.200] - Hau Ngo
Yeah, thank you, Mr. Have a good one.
[00:16:11.760] - Mustansir Saifuddin
You too.
[00:16:15.530] - Mustansir Saifuddin
Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Hau shared some key pointers as you think about where to focus your efforts in SAC. His main takeaway, as we transition to simpler tools focus on data modeling. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation consultation by visiting Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.


Mustansir Saifuddin excels in bridging the gap between business and IT so that clients can create and implement solutions that produce results for years to come. That's why, in 1999 I co-founded Innovative Solution Partners, an IT consulting firm specializing in providing our clients with data insights for informed decision making. As a passionate and visionary leader, I know how to lead teams cross-functionally as well as around the world to drive results.

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