Picture: Nick Andrean Source: The Australian
MASTER parts reseller EMPR Group was looking for an edge over rivals and found it in the ability to get a live picture of its business at any time.
Sydney-based EMPR installed an enterprise resource planning system from software firm SAP about five years ago.
This year, it became an early adopter of SAP HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance), a real-time analytics and applications platform that can be deployed as an appliance or delivered as a cloud service.
The HANA system relies on in-memory computing that promises to crunch massive quantities of data in real-time.
EMPR, which has operated in Australia for about 15 years, is a parts reseller for Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Asus.
“When you are looking at around 10,000 to 15,000 transactions a month in different areas of the business, building up over a five-year period there is a lot of data that sits within the ERP that we have gathered,” EMPR co-founder and technology director Ben Holmes said. “Hence, the reason we were very interested in the SAP HANA appliance.”
The company, which employs about 65 people, has expanded into New Zealand, Fiji and China. EMPR has bought HANA for SAP Business One. “It is one thing to store all that data, but to actually make sense of it requires a lot of IT resources,” Mr Holmes said.
“Whereas, with HANA because of the way it is structured it is very easy to be able to extract and look and analyse the data.”
The company has been working with HANA for about five months, has it operating on its development database and will put it into production this month. “We are very excited to be given the opportunity to implement it before its full release later this year.”
EMPR will use HANA for logistic reporting and to empower users with a quick and effective view of sales and purchasing. “From a sales point of view, if a customer calls in we can actually have that customer’s data delivered to us virtually straight away, and it can be anything from their financial status to purchasing trends,” Mr Holmes said. “In the past, you still would have been able to gather that data, but it wouldn’t have been live in front of the customer, so it would have been analysed on the side and maybe it would have led to a cold call.”
The enterprise search function allows customer service to provide data quickly over the phone on order status, availability and pricing. Mr Holmes said having data live in front of a user and customised to their needs was a major benefit. “You can also get instant results in terms of your cashflow position, your debtors, your creditors and your stock,” he said. “Having stock held within three countries, we can analyse whether we are using the right stock in the right country as well.”
Mr Holmes said the HANA system would give the business better insight into operations. “From the time we get a sales order to the time it is dispatched, we will be able to report on key measurements . . . but from an analytical point of view it is going to enable us to have a better understanding of who our customers are and how they do business with us.”
Mr Holmes is expecting HANA to boost sales and improve management. . “I think because of HANA being in-memory and it’s not putting any pressure on your live ERP system. People are going to realise that past data is valuable. It is not just something that needs to be archived.”
EMPR has invested about $40,000 in the system, which includes hardware, server software and user licensing.
It will have 43 users of HANA across Australia and New Zealand, and the second phase will roll out a separate installation in China next year.
“It is early days, but it is definitely a piece of technology that we believe will give us a return.”