If a picture is worth a thousand words how about a map? Or better yet, a map that has rich analytic, sentiment and transactional data attached to vital points on it?
Click on a point on the map and you can find out all kinds of things provided the data has been collected, processed and analyzed. And in the age of Big Data and the Internet of Things, where data seems to be coming from everywhere all of the time, the possibilities are endless and in many cases not yet imagined, says David Jonker, Director of Big Data strategy at SAP.
That’s why SAP has partnered with Esri, the leading geographic information system (GIS) and location analytics provider, to deliver new value to the Enterprise marketplace. By more deeply integrating GIS solutions with platforms and enterprise applications from SAP, businesses will have better and more information with which to make important decisions and inform and manage business processes. Not only that, but they’ll be able to use that information seamlessly with SAP applications.
Before going into the specifics of the partnership, a little information on GIS systems is in order.
“GIS systems are about points, lines, and polygons,” says Steve Benner of Esri. "Points are points, lines are streets, pipes, powerlines and the like, and polygons are cities, council and tax districts, areas affected by flu outbreaks, natural disasters and so on …”
When data is attached to these points, lines and polygons, it can aid decision making in a very big way, especially when the data can be processed and analyzed in real time which SAP’s in memory database, Hana can do without a single hiccup.
While the SAP/Esri offering is still being built, it’s helpful to imagine a (mostly hypothetical) use case scenario and, perhaps nothing is quite as compelling as a natural disaster.
GIS in Action
According to Esri, whenever a natural disaster occurs anywhere in the world, one of the first maps you’ll see will have been built with or generated by Esri (or Esri plus FEMA or a FEMA-like agency.)
In the case of Superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast last fall, the first map Esri put up was public information map that imported social media in the area of the event. Hours later, or as soon as enough information is gathered, Esri (or FEMA via Esri) publishes a local impact map.
At this point, any company which can provide much needed help (say a utility) would be able to use that map to issue work orders. In a scenario in which the said utility’s business process utilized the SAP/Esri solution, all of that could be done automatically, including pushing those orders out to a workforce in the field via their Mobile devices. This could be done once Esri is integrated into SAP’s Mobile Platform for Location-based Work Management.
SAP Enterprise Asset Management with geographical enablement
Can’t that be done now, you might be asking? The answer might be yes, but it would likely be a much slower process (hours vs. seconds), using less information and generating content that wasn’t anywhere near as rich.
And once recovery from a disaster, like Sandy, ends, affected parties and service providers usually analyze what has happened and start looking for what they might do in the future to protect and serve their customers better.
In the case of Superstorm Sandy, this might mean studying and analyzing points of impact to create a more informed emergency preparedness plan. This would mean looking at Big Data in a real big way -- consider that there are 12,664 aerial images available to be processed, web data that includes 34 million hits, records from mobile devices, electricity meters, social media, flood elevation maps, tidal maps, and volumes of models gathered by the national weather service … and so on. All of this data when processed could be used to predict points of greatest impact and to get assistance in proximity even before it is needed. The SAP/Esri solution could potentially power all of this and an endless variety of other scenarios.
Today’s SAP Esri Announcement Is Where It Begins
Today SAP and Esri announced their partnership to co-innovate to provide end-to-end support for spatial data across SAP HANA®, the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Business Intelligence (BI) platform and SAP® Mobile Platform. This is meant to enrich Enrich SAP® Business Suite applications with geographic content ; rapidly process spatial, location and enterprise data using SAP HANA in real time; visualize geographic information in maps, graphs and charts using tools from the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio, and deliver applications to field workers that effectively process geospatial and business data using SAP Mobile Platform.
The possibilities, as Jonker said, are limitless. Depending on who you are, and where you’re coming from, they might look like goldmines, life-preservers, cost-cutters, or simply a way your service provider can serve you better.
It’s worth noting that Big Data can make for not only a brave new world, but a better, more caring world too.
Title image courtesy of Anton Balazh (Shutterstock)