SAP Puts HANA In-Memory Platform to Use for Critical Real-Time Social Insights

By Tony Rizzo August 21, 2013

We’ve been watching SAP AG continue to drive the use of its state-of-the-art in-memory database and analytics platform, HANA. Most recently, we made SAP one of our CTIA 2013 Gems specifically for this reason. It now appears to us that SAP has once again managed to find another important use for HANA and its capabilities.

The company announced today the general availability of its new SAP Social Contact Intelligence (SCI) analytic application. SCI is powered by SAP HANA, and specifically targets allowing businesses to unlock sentiment and contact insights from both social media channels and internal, company-owned sources. This will allow companies to both better target prospects and customers and, in the process, allow them to influence consumers/customers in a variety of effective ways.

We’ve long noted that the amount of both mobile-driven and social-driven data is becoming so enormous in scale that many, if not most, companies are more often than not at a loss as to how to deal with it. It is a decidedly non-trivial and very complex problem.

A key issue is that the most important data is usually only valuable in real time, as a customer is in a store, at a certain location, engaged in some specific activity at a given moment in time and at some specific place. All of these types of data parameters, when brought into play, lead to massive big data issues. These include both dealing with handling such massive amounts of data on the fly, as well as being able to gain useful real time information from it. It is a daunting challenge!


image via shutterstock

Further, the "immediate" data is often made much more valuable by finding relationships between it and existing older data (and business intelligence that has already been culled from older data). This tremendously increases the total data that needs to be analyzed and turned into valuable real-time insights.

Last, it is also hugely important to be able to immediately discern what data is not relevant. This is a key issue that must be handled in order to take unnecessary data - which will get in the way delivering the most effective insights if not guarded against - out of the equation.

As SAP has recently done for similar large scale environments - for example the wireless carrier subscriber space, as we highlighted in our CTIA Gems article - SCI will now do for the sales, marketing and customer service professionals that must deal with the massive big data stores built around internal customer data. Adding to the complexity, these data stores are, in turn, stored in numerous disparate systems both within organizations – and more importantly, also stored in external social media data beyond the reach of corporate IT systems.

Relying solely on outdated information - a simple way to get around the complexity of dealing with real time data - simply will not suffice. Such data will absolutely cause businesses to miss out on profitable cross- and up-sell opportunities. Further, incomplete information, which can lead companies to rely only on gut instincts to make strategic decisions, such as offering incentives to engage customers and prospects, is even worse.

These old approaches will not do - and it is inevitable, in our opinion, that for every collection of businesses that fail to understand this, there is one key competitor (even in small SMB environments) that does understand it and is creating enormous tactical and strategic advantages over those that fail to move forward with real-time technology- and business intelligence-driven insights.

SAP Social Contact Intelligence is able to incorporate social sentiment insights directly into business campaigns, and allows companies to much more easily identify and target prospects and influencers and help drive incremental sales. We use the word "incremental" here but, in fact, we can also label these as "entirely new and strategic sales that lead to entirely new and strategic revenue streams” - this is the level at which companies need to think about customer insights in today's big data-driven world.

Additionally, sales teams will gain deeper insights into customers, allowing them to quickly identify the most influential and relevant contacts at an account. Service professionals will be able to analyze product and service complaints from social channels to proactively identify trouble spots and take preventive measures.

SCI Key Features

SCI is part of the larger SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence solution, a set of applications powered by SAP HANA that are designed to enable real-time insight from customer data, which allows for highly personalized and targeted initiatives that can help grow both revenue and profit for organizations. SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence leverages the powerful text analysis and predictive engines that are built into SAP HANA to bring advanced natural language processing (NLP) and complex predictive algorithms directly to the fingertips (literally!) of sales, marketing and service executives in an intuitive, practical and user-friendly way without the need for expensive data scientists and PhDs.

SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence consists of four key integrated components:

  • SAP Social Contact Intelligence: Allows organizations to leverage real-time sentiment and contact insights from social media and internal, company-owned sources to help identify and target the key influencers, generate new leads and opportunities, and improve overall service levels and customer loyalty;
  • SAP Audience Discovery and Targeting: An analytic application that allows marketing managers to engage customers and help convert prospects by running advanced segmentations on large target populations and distilling insights into focused and personalized marketing campaigns;
  • SAP Customer Value Intelligence: An analytic application that provides sales and marketing managers real-time customer insight into the true value of their customers, personalized recommendations for cross- and up-selling and closed loop execution;
  • SAP Account Intelligence: A mobile app that offers mobile sales teams real-time customer insights and personalized selling recommendations that allow them to create target lists, increase the effectiveness of their sales visits and seize sales opportunities from anywhere.

Bernd Seidel, Business Solution Management at Thomas Cook AG, underlines all of the above when noting that, “Customer segmentation models that took more than 12 hours to complete can today be run 985 times faster. That makes a big difference to our business users allowing them to experiment with different segmentation models and receive instant responses so they have the ability to build more personalized and targeted sales and marketing campaigns.”

Michael Kuenzl, vice president of IT systems at HSE24, Europe’s leading home shopping retailer, similarly notes that, “We saw an opportunity with SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence to influence our customers’ buying behavior and reduce product return rates. We sell over 1 million products to 8 million customers and we estimate that decreasing our return rate by only one percent can lead to 7-digit Euro savings on the bottom line. SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence enables our marketing teams to uncover hidden trends that help drive product returns and build high-precision marketing campaigns to influence customers’ return behavior.”

Enough said - if either Thomas Cook AG or HSE24 are your competitors you are probably already losing significant competitive ground.

We believe that SAP HANA is the state of the art in "in-memory super high speed" performance and capability. We suggest that at the very least any organization that relies on customers move quickly to have their IT teams investigate, at the very least, how to get ahead of the competition through SAP's HANA services (or the very few other competing in-memory platforms). Those that don't will - without any doubt whatsoever - cease to exist.




Edited by Ryan Sartor

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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