SAP's HANA data analytics services are helping to save transportation firms large sums of money that would previously have been lost to scams, according to fleet management firm ARI.
ARI UK managing director Keith Allen told V3 that since adopting SAP's HANA technology, the firm has been able to offer customers advanced behaviour tracking services. This lets them spot harmful trends that may otherwise have gone unnoticed for several months.
"We've had examples where, dare I say it, we can identify fraud, showing things like when a driver said he is filling his car up at a gas station but the car's at a different location. With the tools we have, the fleet operator has that information available and can just ping an email to the driver, asking them to explain why they're using a company fuel card," he said.
"That's an example where HANA can be utilised, where we're getting information specific to the fleet operator and manager so they can action it immediately. It's not like days gone by where they'd see a trend and then take six months doing all these calculations about fuel spent and miles driven offline before spotting something wrong, now it's immediately actionable."
Allen said the analytics also help the company to improve overall driver efficiency, letting them spot atypical trends indicating bad or dangerous behaviour.
"Risk management is a key area. Something a lot of our competitors can't do is integrate the amount of data we do. Using the data, we can get a lot of information about how the car is being driven from things like miles per gallon. The information can then be benchmarked with a league table to improve fleet driving behaviour," he said.
ARI director of information management Bill Powell said that the technology is so impressive, it managed to attract the firm away from competing providers, like Oracle. "We're not your typical SAP customer. In terms of our technology stack, we have a mixed environment, we primarily run Oracle transactional systems. And quite frankly, because we're an Oracle transactional shop, we lean very heavily towards Oracle solutions," he said.
"But after we took a look at the [HANA] solution, we realised its not just about the database, its about how the business gets to that information, how they're going to work with that information. You have to look at the entire technology stack all the way through. After we did that, we spoke with SAP and tested how it worked with our technology and how competitors worked with our technology, and we found HANA was the right fit for our purposes."
Powell said that despite HANA's positive qualities, there are roadblocks that make wholesale adoption of SAP's ecosystem architecture unrealistic for many businesses.
"In our line of business (fleet management), the software itself is not a commodity you can go and buy off the shelf; you have to code it yourself. So there's a huge investment in the in-house technology stack. We weren't looking to rewrite all that software and we couldn't just go out and buy some. SAP has a fantastic product offering, but its not specific to our industry or what we do. What we wanted to do is get better at processing information, not rewriting our core applications," he said.
The ARI director also highlighted how the cutting edge nature of HANA, combined with its rapid deployment speed, was a potential pitfall for firms. "We've had our challenges. With any cutting edge technology you're going to have your challenges. For us it's mostly been from an employee perspective, trying to understand what the technology is," he said.
"We were a little too aggressive rolling the SAP Explore platform out. As a tool we had an excellent response from our customers and we immediately started rolling it out without properly training our in-house support people first. That obviously was a mistake as some of our customers suddenly knew more about their data than we did, which is not a good place to be. They were performing analysis that our own internal staff weren't able to do. We had phone calls coming in asking staff questions they weren't trained to answer. We had to take a step back."
ARI is one of many firms to praise HANA for its advanced analytics capabilities. Most recently McLaren said HANA has already become a key tool driving the team to race success. SAP has hinted that many government departments and military agencies have already expressed interest in HANA's behaviour-monitoring features.
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