Best-of-Breed Business Intelligence for Improved Agility
How Ferrara’s Cloud Strategy Supports this and more
Susan Fisher, Story Acquisitions Lead, SAPinsider
Ferrara is an emerging North American powerhouse in sweet snacking with recent acquisitions of Nestle’s U.S. Confection and Kellogg’s Cookie, Cones, and Crust business which includes the beloved Keebler brands. Ferrara has been able to quickly realize the benefits of its investments by having information about new acquisitions available at its fingertips.
Mustafa Mustafa, Senior Director, Analytics and Technical Shared Services at Ferrara refers to this as “truly a paradigm shift in the organization.”
The company has achieved this through a best-of-breed approach for bringing in acquisitions data that delivers accurate business intelligence (BI) in real-time to support leadership decision-making and optimize market opportunities. This strategy is supported by Ferrara’s evolving journey to the cloud working with hyperscaler Amazon Web Services (AWS) and implementing SAP’s in-memory database, SAP HANA on Intel Xeon processors.
“Running SAP HANA on AWS enables unparalleled agility for reports and analytics across our business. SAP HANA empowers our business with a streamlined analytical process for making strategic, tactical, and operational decisions,” Mustafa says.
Putting all of the company’s data and analytics in one cloud environment near each other has resulted in less latency when moving information back and forth and increased performance and integration. In fact, the company has been able to significantly reduce the time it takes to bring in new information from two years to just one week by defining a new BI playbook.
When the Nestle U.S. Confection acquisition closed, Ferrara was able to scale up its environment and report on sales within three weeks. According to Mustafa, SAP HANA and SAP Analytics have provided visibility to demand, sales, and finance information from the newly acquired business.
A Keep-it-sweet-and-simple Governance Philosophy Explained and Implemented
“Being able to have an environment that is agile and meets the demands of the business is what brings outstanding value to our customers. As our business continually transforms, we need to be able to flex,” Mustafa says.
The BI team has been able to simplify their internal customers’ experience by understanding their business partners’ needs and aligning those with technology, resulting in a streamlined and simplified user experience.
According to Mustafa, the company was using SAP Business Warehouse to replicate and load its data, which can be challenging, especially if you want to make changes to SQL statements on the fly. Now, with SAP HANA, Ferrara has a data warehouse that allows the BI team to pull data from the company’s SAP ERP system as well as acquired companies.
It’s faster — you can make changes without having to reload data — and more flexible to use.
SAP Analytics Hub simplifies and centralizes access to different analytics resources and data sources. This solution allows the BI team to combine data sets from different sources, have one place for users to find the report or tool they need, and analyze on demand.
Mustafa Mustafa, Senior Director, Analytics and Technical Shared Services, Ferrara
Collaboration and Technology Enable Valued Partner Status
BI helps the organization’s business partners envision what’s possible with technology solutions. The result is stronger collaboration — a core value at Ferrara — between IT, cross-functional teams within Ferrara, and customers leveraging robust real-time data, which has positioned Ferrara as a valued business partner. According to Mustafa, BI Brainz drives Ferrara’s vision to develop dashboards and tie the company’s KPIs to every level of the organization.
SAP HANA and SAP Analytics provide the transparency and insights necessary to make strategic decisions across the entire business.
“Marketing and channel management need to know how to pivot by having visibility across our consumer base, to understand their needs and map them as they change, and historically, salespeople had a challenge gauging what their customer needs were,” Mustafa says. “SAP bridged these gaps.”
Qualtrics is another SAP solution helping define consumer and customer opportunities based on combining data from various sources. Ferrara conducts a lot of innovative research and development, including social media analyses, to align their products with the latest trends and bring greater value to the consumer.
Running SAP HANA AWS Cloud, Ferrara is 50% more efficient overall in development, and has reduced development costs by 70%. The first SAP dashboard that Ferrara deployed, working with Materials Management across their network of 20 plants to realize greater efficiency and align with KPIs, saved the company $200,000 within the first 15 weeks.
By leveraging their resources more effectively, they are seeing a 50% increase in productivity working collaboratively with business partners. The results are clearly impacting their employee, customer, and consumer experience.
Given the impacts of running SAP HANA on AWS, it is not surprising to hear Mustafa’s enthusiasm about beginning to work with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics, and for Ferrara’s continued cloud journey.
“What provides a great foundation for an organization shifting from enterprise to cloud is a focus on culture, execution, partnership, and governance. It brings value, simplifies the experience, and enables our company’s success,” Mustafa says.
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders
- Empower your BI teams to deliver innovation across the organization by first understanding their business partners’ goals and roadmaps, then leveraging technology solutions like SAP Analytics Hub to simplify and centralize access to different analytics resources and data sources across the enterprise.
- Look to cloud first when deciding about architecture decisions for speed, access, best practices, and having experts manage the SaaS model and infrastructure versus internal resources. Business leaders and IT can instead focus on data management, analytics, and decision-making, remaining agile and competitive.
- Before signing a long-term agreement for SaaS, understand what flexibility exists. “At Ferrara, we want to make sure we have flexibility in the future to be able to adjust to market demands,” Mustafa says.
Watch a short video to learn how Ferrara’s cloud strategy supports best-of-breed business intelligence for improved agility, and how this candy maker’s keep-it-sweet-and-simple approach impacts the customer experience.
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