Analytics and Digital Transformation; how openness, transparency, and flexibility are the key to success

Success in Big Data and analytics rests in finding trusted partners with whom to plan and roll out the project, and developing in an open, flexible strategy that is able to adjust to dynamic changes in the market.

Digital Transformation can encompass a wide range of innovative and emerging technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Microservices and the Cloud but one of the most common technologies organisations look to adopt is Analytics. 

To give you an idea of just how rapidly the interest in data analytics has grown, Big Data adoption jumped 17 per cent in 2015 to 53 per cent in 2017, with Data Warehouse Optimisation being the #1 reason for adoption, followed by customer/social analysis and predictive IT maintenance.

Taking on Big Data and analytics, however, comes with its problems:  the rate of failure is high. Gartner analyst, Nick Heudecker, claims the failure rate of Big Data projects can be as high as 85 per cent, but the problem (generally) doesn’t lie with the technology.

Success in Big Data and Analytics rests in finding trusted partners with whom to plan and roll out the project and developing in an open, flexible manner that is able to adjust to dynamic changes in the market. 

How Team Beverage benefited from Analytics

Team Beverage provides a unique distribution, purchasing, marketing and service platform for the beverage industry throughout Germany. As a company, its focus is on servicing a wide range of customers, spanning beverage wholesalers, beverage retailers, restaurateurs and convenience store outlets, from kiosks to gas stations.

When it undertook its own analytics project, it was looking to derive greater transparency from the market, and to help encourage and strengthen the position of its alliance partners in the process.

“We were looking for a solution that could analyse our sales and market volume in relation to a benchmark of the entire market,” Team Beverage Director of Business Analytics & Information Management Intelligence, Gerhard Baier, said. “By adopting the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, we were able to see immediate productivity improvements and reports became simpler to generate and provide. Furthermore, because SAP Analytics Cloud includes SAP Digital Boardroom functionality and interactivity, we now have enhanced story telling capabilities to better facilitate the recognition of information and business dependencies.”

The strengths of the solution – that it is independent of other IT technologies and services and thus agnostic, and by being cloud-based it is scalable in real time – means Team Beverage considers the competitive advantage provided by the platform to be future-proof, Baier said. 

“That independence from other technology was important to us,” he said. “It has strengthened the medium-sized beverage wholesalers, retailers and gastronomic services by providing digitisation and analytics solutions to them, from us, regardless of their own environments. As such, we’ve been able to map the complete process chain from ordering through to the delivery – it has given us an unprecedented view of our entire operation.”

The ROI Question

It’s difficult to assess the average return on investment (ROI) of an analytics project, particularly when the scope of such projects can vary wildly, and they so frequently fail. However, according to SAP Solution Manager Analytic Lead, ANZ Centre of Excellence, Andreas Kral, SAP measures the ROI on projects across a host of benefits that it brings to the organisation.

“Customers benefit in many ways, ranging from reduced IT costs and predictable TCO to better user experience,” he said. “This results in quicker decision making in the context of business applications, as analytic capability is embedded and the virtuous cycle of traditional BI, forecasting and financial planning capabilities is in a single platform. This gives customers the opportunity to make better strategic decisions based on easy access to data and analytics, and time freed up to create new business models and focus on innovation.”

Combined, these benefits provide organisations with a substantial competitive advantage in markets that, across all sectors, are becoming more technologically competitive. For example, data shows that more than 50% of companies are gaining a competitive advantage in using analytics, meaning that a well-implemented analytics strategy is critical for creating differentiation, which is a significant ROI result in itself.

How to approach an analytics strategy

One of the core challenges organisations have faced in adopting analytics platforms – and the underlying cause for why so many fail - is the way technology is traditionally bought and sold. Digital Transformation solutions are in a state of constant flux as waves of new entrants land on the market and that rate of change is at odds with the traditional approach to locking a customer in to a solution over a long term commitment. 

“At its heart, true innovation is about trying quickly, learning quickly and falling fast with minimal disruption and cost outlay,” NTT DATA Innovation Lead and National Practice Manager – Analytics – Dimitri Zarganakis, said. “Accepting that technology strategies are going to be constantly changing and becoming comfortable with that, is key.”

Zarganakis said the role of a partner such as NTT DATA, with solutions like the SAP Analytics Cloud implemented by Team Beverage, was to provide the senior architects and strategic support needed to help the client develop a pragmatic, understandable and actionable strategy and roadmap, and then to help execute that strategy on time and on budget. 

“A valuable analytics strategy should be easy to comprehend, actionable and explain how an organisation is going to be agile to enable change,” Zarganakis said. “It should also describe the types of toolsets and architectures being rolled out in a manner that allows openness to change, and puts the user at the heart – rather than the end – of an analytics capability.”

Taking the first steps towards a Digitally Transformed business through analytics

He said organisations shouldn’t invest in analytics for the sake of it. The fear of being left behind while competitors develop competitive advantages can encourage hasty and ill-advised investments.

“In this rapidly evolving analytics world in which organisations are at severe [but unfounded] risk of  fear of missing out [FOMO], a good analytics strategy will guide an organisation on a modern, Big Data analytics journey that leaves the door open to change without penalty or discomfort,” Zarganakis said.

“A strategy that attempts to go from zero to hero in the world of analytics is almost certainly bound to fail.”

NTT DATA has the expertise and heritage to lead an innovative and dynamic analytics strategy within your business. As a top-10 global IT services provider operating in over 50 countries (including a direct presence in Australia), NTT Group works with 88 per cent of Global 100 countries, and has developed a global understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing organisations across all verticals.

For more information on how leading brands such as SAP and NTT DATA have successfully driven analytics strategies, visit or the NTT Data CIO Partner Zone.