Benefits as Clear as Glass


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Benefits as Clear as Glass
Be it red wine or Worcestershire sauce, Consol makes a bottle to suit – because it knows precisely what
consumers are looking for. And from now on, Africa’s leading manufacturer of glass will find out even more
quickly what makes the market tick, while work will become simpler for its staff.

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Benefits as Clear as Glass

  1. 1. 56 cHalleNGe SAP SPECTRUM 4 /2010 BenefIts as Clear as glass Be it red wine or Worcestershire sauce, Consol makes a bottle to suit – because it knows precisely what consumers are looking for. And from now on, Africa’s leading manufacturer of glass will find out even more quickly what makes the market tick, while work will become simpler for its staff. Author: Stephan Magura
  2. 2. SAP SPECTRUM 4 /2010 cHalleNGe 57a stuffy conference room in the Pretoria capital of SouthAfrica. Although ideas are flying hot and heavy, the heating ison. It’s winter in South Africa, time for the Consol manage- aT a GlaNcement to do the rounds of the factories to check on productivity the sItuatIon Consol Glass strives to continuously optimize itsand business development. Pretoria today, Clayville tomorrow. business intelligence solution. The glass manufacturer uses BI as aThen Wadeville. Or is Bellville next? It’s a cycle that repeats strategic tool to strengthen its competitive position.every quarter. whY sap? As a long-standing SAP customer, Consol trusts solutions As always, everyone is well prepared for the meeting, and from the Walldorf software company. SAP BusinessObjects Explorerthe latest data is on hand – including pertinent information was presented at SAPPHIRE in 2009 and immediately impressed CIOfrom the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver Johan du Plessis.BW) software. Nonetheless, plenty of questions crop up dur- the result The rollout is in full swing. Some 60 business usersing the session. Such as, “Where’s all the mayo going?” Mak- already employ SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for asset management, vendor management, production, sales, and analyses of market anders of mayonnaise have been turning more and more to plas- company data.tic bottles, but Consol still only offers the traditional glassmayonnaise jar. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know how the salesnumbers for the jar have changed over the last five years? “I just whipped out my iPhone, opened the SAP Business- tor software as an extension to SAP NetWeaver BW, whichObjects Explorer software, found the jar, and ran the query. A Consol had been using for years. “We put a lot of moneycouple of seconds later, we knew the answer,” recalls Consol’s and effort into building our business intelligence solutionchief information officer Johan du Plessis when we meet a week to improve the quality of our data,” says Johan du Plooy, alater at Consol headquarters in Germiston, near Johannesburg. business analyst at Consol who works closely with the CIO.Apparently, the glass mayonnaise jar sold very well from 2006 The switch from SAP R/3-based reporting to business in-to 2008, but sales declined in 2009 owing to the recession. This telligence-oriented insight some six years ago marked theyear, mayonnaise jar sales are climbing again. Conclusion? starting-point for more intensive use of business and mar-Quality mayonnaise still comes in proper glass jars, whereas ket data. However, the users did need some convincing. “Wediscount mayo is often packaged in PET bottles. Question an- had to win them over by providing an excellent service,” duswered, to general relief. Next item on the agenda... Plooy remembers. “I think meetings like that will run much more dynamically Since then, the small IT team has earned the appreciationand efficiently in the future. New tools from SAP and new of the business departments and management. The power ofways of presenting information are making this possible,” du SAP NetWeaver BW is acknowledged. Specialists handle thePlessis says. He introduced SAP BusinessObjects Explorer to analyses, which can take days to prepare – depending on theirConsol around a year ago and is now rolling it out across the complexity. Such long response times are not unusual, butcompany, step by step. First, he started experimenting with the CIO isn’t satisfied. “I want our decision makers to be able to act on the spot,” says du Plessis. “Just imagine what a dif- ference it makes if you can give a business partner an answer in minutes, while the competition has to call back in a day ori jusT whiPPed ouT my iPhone, two.”oPened The saP business- That is precisely where SAP BusinessObjects Explorer – which runs with SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP NetWeaver BWobjecTs exPlorer sofTware, Accelerator – shows its strengths. Using integrated in-memoryfound The jar, and ran The technology that draws on the large memory capacity of today’s databases, data is aggregated when a user needs it. The userquery. a couPle of seconds no longer has to generate the information before providing itlaTer, we knew The answer. in multidimensional cube structures.— Johan du Plessis Uncorking speed The result is a substantial improvement in performance com-a provisional cloud version because the hardware for the on- pared with classic business intelligence systems. Du Plessispremise solution wasn’t available last fall. Today, he takes gives an example: “We use it a lot to research trends. Whenthe on-device SAP BusinessObjects Explorer with him wher- asked which wines in which markets are best bottled with aever he goes. He finds it every bit as good as the on-premise cork and which with a screw-top, a good specialist neededversion. two days for a specific analysis using SAP NetWeaver BW. Speed and simplicity: That’s what impressed du Plessis in SAP BusinessObjects Explorer came up with the answers in2009, when he first experienced the new tool from SAP at the 10 minutes.” It can also unearth some surprising information.SAPPHIRE customer convention in the United States. At the “Off hand, we couldn’t figure out why we were suddenly sell-time, he was implementing the SAP NetWeaver BW Accelera- ing so many Worcestershire sauce bottles when our major →
  3. 3. 58 cHalleNGe SAP SPECTRUM 4 /2010 In the plants, employees can check consumption of materials and critically examine costs. customers for the line hadn’t ordered any more. We asked ingly more people in the field are turning to it to keep track of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer a few questions, and it soon their sales. Others are using it to explore relationships with became apparent that other customers were ordering them for vendors and simulating market trends. And in the plants, completely different purposes,” du Plessis says. The benefit of employees can check consumption of materials and critically information like that is obvious: Discovering hidden connec- examine costs. “In a capital-intensive industry like ours, hav- tions helps identify and strategically address new potential. ing control over the ratio of fixed to variable costs is crucial. And the more quickly that can happen, the more effectively So is maximizing the utilization of our furnaces,” du Plessis Consol can position itself in the market. remarks. It will be very useful to find out quickly how much So far, du Plessis can count about 60 business users – man- energy and other resources were used in a particular produc- agers and others not specially trained as analysts – who use tion run and, if necessary, make changes in the next run. “It SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. He says its clear and simple will help us develop and monitor standards for sustainable production,” he adds. Helpful feedback our PeoPle quickly sTarTed To enjoy The sofTware and Nevertheless, Consol’s work isn’t quite finished. As the third company in the world to implement SAP BusinessObjects Ex- more of Them now wanT To plorer, Consol is helping SAP identify and eliminate any weak- use iT. — Johan du Plessis nesses in the software. “There are still a couple technical limi- tations,” du Plooy says. For example, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer initially didn’t work with the new releases of SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator. There design is a big help; it is just like using an Internet browser. are also some differences between the cloud version and the Whether the questions are about sales or plant maintenance, on-premise software. And the company’s IT experts would the look and feel of the animated charts and graphs is the same, like to see a few more SAP NetWeaver BW functions in SAP and they respond at once to new information. Any change is BusinesssObjects Explorer, such as the ability to handle more noticed immediately, he says. “As a tool, it is self-explanatory, complex queries and more HR-specific functionality. so people get used to working with it in next to no time.” SAP Nevertheless, Consol has seen users’ acceptance of the BusinessObjects Explorer can be used in many ways. Increas- software rise steadily. “Our people quickly started to enjoy
  4. 4. SAP SPECTRUM 4 /2010 cHalleNGe 59 in-memory technology has won the backing of Cio Johan du plessis, who regularly uses Sap businessobjects explorer to research trends. consol Glass Consol glass manufactures and markets an extensive range of standard and premium glass packaging products, primarily for the South African food and beverage industry. A leading company in its field in Africa, Consol glass employs 2,400 people. As the founding member of The glass Recycling Company or- ganization, Consol supports the recovery of glass for recycling.the software and more of them now want to use it,” du Plessissays. “SAP delivered exactly what I saw in Orlando.” Thatisn’t always the case with new products, emphasizes the CIO.Often it takes years to get from a marketing presentation to ausable product. Du Plooy stresses that the users’ experience with SAPBusinessObjects Explorer is only as good as the data in SAPNetWeaver BW. Additionally, users need to know their busi-ness so that they can ask the right questions. For du Plessis,SAP BusinessObjects Explorer is the key to running an eco-nomically viable data warehouse: “When you look at the totalcost of operating a business intelligence solution, filling thewarehouse with data isn’t all that expensive. But what is ex-pensive is when highly-paid specialists take hours to get ahalf-decent result because the quality of the data isn’t goodenough. You can’t afford to have inefficient processes to getthe data you need out of the warehouse. SAP BusinessObjectsExplorer is the key to getting a return on investment from yourSAP BI system. That’s where it adds value.”iPhone with SAP Download More aboutBusinessObjects the App SAP BusinessObjects Explorerexplorer Link list:
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