Ursprünglich veröffentlicht am 03. August 2021.
Verfasst von: Anja Kaup (PR und Marketing Managerin) – anja.kaup@infocient.de

Iver van de Zand is Vice President of Product Strategy for Augmented Business Intelligence at SAP and leads the analytics business intelligence solution management area. He worked in business intelligence and performance management for over 25 years and has a deep passion for analytics – as the title of his book „Passionate On Analytics” proves. He believes that analytics and business intelligence are of great value to the era of digital transformation. As an analytics evangelist he formed and moderates LinkedIn’s SAP Analytics technology group with almost 4.000 members.

Iver van de Zand personally

Infocient: Mr. van de Zand – before we get into the topic of analytics, I’d like to know a little bit about you personally. What do you like to do in your free time?

Iver van de Zand: I live at the countryside in the eastern part of Belgium. Enjoying a lot the space and relative quietness. I did spend the first half of my life permanently on regatta sailing travelling the world. So, nowadays I still enjoy sailing in my free time.

Next to that I enjoy listening to jazz music in the evening hours. My son Lenz plays in the national Belgian field-hockey team, so quite a bit of time is needed to guide him as a kind of cab-driver. 😊 I am a lousy cook but keep on practicing and practicing.

Iver van de Zand

© Iver van de Zand, source: https://www.ivervandezand.com/

Passion for data

And where does your passion for data come from?

It all started in my first job where I was the dBase data-cruncher for a spare parts center. My outcome was used to optimize the supply chain. I loved the magic of turning data into information. In those times also the first data warehouse concepts were introduced, and I jumped on that topic. It bugged me immediately and I never stepped out of analytics again. After several consulting jobs, I wanted to join a company where they developed analytics solutions and ended up with Cognos. Later on, I moved to SAP to join the Analytics team as PreSales.

What strikes me is that Analytics makes data “tangible”: you can see and touch the outcomes and I love that.

Development of SAP Analytics Cloud

Can you tell us what led to the development of the SAP Analytics Cloud Product six years ago?

At SAP we recognized the need of customers quite early to not only move to the cloud, but to have a real performance management tool, also. Looking at actuals is not enough: enterprises need the ability to compare (and even simulate against) budgets in a highly scalable way.

Next to that, we noticed this huge need for agility and speed, so the solution had to coop with real-time insights and super simple UI.

That led us to the idea for SAP Analytics Cloud: one (!) cloud driven application that supports the closed loop of business intelligence, collaborative planning, and predictive analytics.

SAP’s long term strategy

What is SAP’s long term vision for analytics strategy?

At SAP we want to differentiate with SAP Analytics Cloud in the area of Planning and with embedding Analytics in core LOB applications (Line of Business applications like SuccessFactors, Ariba, FieldGlass, S/4HANA etc etc).

Together with second-to-none connectivity to SAP data sources focusing on performance and context, we have a very strong and compelling strategy.

With the Analytics Designer component this can all even be customized and embedded in other applications.

In addition we see a lot of value getting SAP Analytics Cloud integrated even more with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, so we invest a lot in this area. Most recently we brought our roadmaps to a public application called RoadMap Explorer. This allows our customers to follow what is coming in the next quarters.

How do the users benefit, what is their big win?

Users benefit from so many things but let me call out a few specific ones.

Of course there is the very strong integration with our core LOB applications. They all start embedding SAP Analytics Cloud for their embedded analytics.

For cross-analytics, customers can use the full SAP Analytics Cloud. It means one UI and thus one experience for insights everywhere within SAP.

Another benefit is our unique combination of business intelligence, planning and predictive analytics in one tool. That allows to monitor, project and simulate your data and that is what customers need in these times.

On a more personal note, I think SAP Analytics Cloud excels with very good workflows allowing for easy onboarding and governance of users; I love that.

What happens to customers who can’t go to the cloud?

For those users we still have our SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite.

In our most recent public Statement of Direction we call out the strategy and investment areas for SAP Analytics – covering both SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP BusinessObjects.

We don’t however see a lot of customers who really expect never to go to the cloud. The bigger part of the on-premise customers plans to move in the end but might want to do that in little steps. That’s why we ensured that SAP Analytics Cloud can connect live to an on-premise SAP BusinessObjects server so BusinessObjects customers can leverage what they already built in the past.

The Analytics Catalog component of SAP Analytics Cloud offers the end-users one catalog with access to both on-premise, third party and SAP Analytics Cloud content. Supercool, and really nice for customers who are on the journey but prefer to go in little steps.

SAP Analytics and Business Technology Platform

SAP has developed a new structure with the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP). At first it can leave one with the impression that SAP Analytics has become more or less just a “tool” under the umbrella of SAP BTP. What do you answer to that?

We see the SAP Business Technology Platform basically as our “data superpower” needed to become a data driven enterprise.

Core elements over there are the abilities to master and control both Data Volume (HANA & HANA Cloud), Quality (BW and DwC) and Usage (SAP Analytics Cloud).

This clearly calls out that SAP Analytics Cloud is not just a tool, but it is a facilitator to become data driven.

Also think of the role of SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Data Warehouse Cloud for cross-cluster analytics. Both are really the glue to link all pieces together.

The intelligent enterprise and digitalisation

From your experience in analytics, what stage are most companies at, regarding the intelligent enterprise and digitalisation and what do you recommend to get to a new level?

First, I see the vast majority of our customers have – partially – moved to the cloud and are even accelerating their cloud journeys. This is a trend we see consistently all over the world. That was basically seen by customers as a pre-requisite to move into the intelligent enterprise space.

That shift is now also happening rapidly, especially for HR, Spend and Procurement use cases – but of course we aim for more and additional use cases.

Most recently we can see a further acceleration and I am pretty sure this is caused by providing more and more business content.

This content is not only provided by SAP, but many of our partners develop that content as well. So I’d say “step on that train, Infocient”.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions.

Readers who would like to stay informed about SAP Analytics, can follow Iver van de Zand on Twitter and LinkedIn. Iver holds over 110K followers and shares best practices all the time.

Most recently he created the SAP Analytics Technology LinkedIn Group, where 3-4 best practices on SAP Analytics are shared every single day.


Coverphoto: JESHOOTS.COM auf Unsplash