SAP users identify data skills shortage as importance of analytics spikes

by Jeremy

Only a third of SAP user organizations in the UK and Ireland think they have the necessary skills to use all their data effectively. The SAP user group spans the two countries have published some research linked to its annual Analytics Symposium, an online event on 21 April. Its survey of 117 SAP user organizations revealed that 32% believe they have the necessary skills to use all their data effectively. Fewer than half (44%) think they have the data and analytics needed/intelligence technologies.

This discovery is set against a context where their use of data for business intelligence and data analytics has increased. And nearly two-thirds (62%) said data analytics has helped them navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. In a release about the research, the chairman of the user group, Paul Cooper, said: “Even before the pandemic, the data demands on many organizations had risen significantly. Having the necessary data analytics technology and skills is becoming hugely important, as our research reveals 70% of organizations have executive or senior-level sponsorship of their data strategy.”

Cooper is head of information systems at Burton’s Biscuit Company, as well as being the chair of the user group. The survey said that more than half (58%) are using or planning to use SAP Analytics Cloud. Some 55% of organizations are currently using the Hana in-memory database. Of those organizations not using it, 45% said they were waiting to move to the entire SAP S/4Hana ERP system rather than purchasing the in-memory database separately.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Cooper said: “The skills thing keeps coming through. And it’s clear that senior people in organisations have become more insight hungry. There is no point in giving a senior manager a whole pile of data. So, dashboards and visualisation become all the more important to help them to ‘step through’ data.”

He said it would be interesting to see if longer-term IT investment projects will get going again over the summer as the pandemic begins to tail off, instead of the short-term emergency projects that have characterized the pandemic period.

“I was intrigued that people are waiting for S/4 to use Hana. Every organisation will have different drivers. Some will want the performance of Hana [as a high-speed database], others will want it as part of a road-mapped journey to S/4, given the scale of that, in terms of IT, business, and [systems integration and consultancy] partner input.”

The survey revealed that of those organisations not currently using Hana, 45% said they were waiting to move to SAP S/4Hana rather than purchasing the in-memory database separately.

Asked why customers would not reach for other suppliers, who specialise in data analytics, rather than SAP, he said: “It comes down to integration. There are efficiencies if you can keep things together. And what I’ve seen of the analytics tools that SAP has been working on in recent years do deliver on data visualization – like their digital boardroom concept.” He said the pandemic had increased the need for better data analysis, as some companies disrupted their business models. An example would be food outlets seeing more custom out of London with people working from home and not commuting into the capital. “And, regionally.

Things have been different in different phases of the lockdowns. So, companies are needing to track that and understand types of localisation that were not there before.” When the survey respondents were asked about their most pressing business intelligence needs, data accuracy and consistency (22%), dashboards/visualization (20%), and using data to help reduce costs/wastage across the organization (17%),, were the most commonly cited.

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