Wal-Mart Still Using SAP’s HANA in Business Intelligence


AI is increasingly being used in business intelligence applications. Companies can now use machine learning algorithms to identify trends and insights in vast reams of data and make faster decisions that potentially position them to be competitive in real-time.

Prominent application providers have developed holistic platforms that better automate business intelligence and analytics processes. This includes SAP with its HANA cloud platform, which can replicate and ingest structured data such as sales transactions or customer information, from relational databases, apps, and other sources.

The platform can be installed to run on-premise through a company’s servers, or via the cloud. HANA takes in information gathered from access points across the business—including mobile and desktop computers, financial transactions, sensors, and equipment at production plants. If your sales staff uses company smartphones or tablets in the field to record purchase orders, data from those transactions can be analyzed and understood by HANA to spot trends and irregularities.

Walmart, for example, has been using HANA for years to process its high volume of transaction records (the company operates more than 11,000 stores) within seconds. At a conference hosted by SAP in 2015, then-CIO Karenann Terrell described why Walmart chose to use HANA in order to operate faster and control back office costs by consolidating the processes and resources needed to handle the work.

How Walmart uses HANA  

Unexpected differences can crop up most anywhere in the process of conducting business; it might be an excess product order that seems odd for a particular customer or machinery at a factory that starts to run slower than it should. Machine learning can be used to automatically call attention to such variances. For example, if a factory manager has an application installed on their computer to monitor the equipment on an assembly line, data from a slowdown in production could be collected and processed through HANA. The gathered results can be queried to determine if a new course of action is needed, such as a service inspection of the equipment.

SAP says that HANA performs differently from comparable platforms by storing replicated data in RAM rather than on disk. That makes it possible to access the data in real-time for use with applications and analytics built on top of the HANA platform for faster decision making.

The intent with HANA, and other machine learning solutions, is to make data-driven decisions that are potentially better informed. It is possible for small and midsize companies, not just enterprises, to explore using this kind of technology in different segments of their business—if the solution can fit within their budget. “This can be found in every organization whether it’s for HR, risk, or marketing,” says Ronen Meiri, CTO for DMWay, a provider of machine learning for predictive analytics.

Read the source article in techemergence.