Harness the power of your data with Azure Explore Zone for SAP accelerator

Today, data not only drives business growth but, in numerous sectors, can hinder growth if not harnessed effectively. The way data is utilized is of paramount importance to both business leaders and IT professionals since its influence on their results will intensify as the use of data applications continues to expand.

That's why so many enterprises rely on SAP ERP, whether S/4HANA or ECC, as a vital operational asset that collects key business insights. From management reporting to prescriptive analytics, this data often underpins their business growth strategy.

The only challenge is that the data SAP collects is "trapped" within the ERP and difficult to extract for processing and consumption on contemporary cloud data analysis platforms provided by Azure, Snowflake, and Google, to name a few. IT teams face a unique set of technical challenges with SAP ERP. Their goal is to offer extensive analytics capabilities to users who heavily rely on data. However, this often leads to them being perceived as slow gatekeepers instead of agile business partners.

The challenges in extracting and leveraging SAP ERP data

IT teams traditionally handle the needs of data-driven users by transferring data from SAP ERP to an Azure data platform. This process is complicated by SAP ERP's sophistication, including its over 100,000 tables, large data volumes, complex data models, and obscure German field names. Integrating basic SAP data into an Azure Data Lake can take up to 24 weeks or more. This is just the initial step, and it happens before the data is even formatted securely and usefully for power users.

Meanwhile, data-savvy 'power' users, capable and eager to use raw SAP data for evolving business needs, become impatient with the wait for analytics tools delivered by IT. Out of frustration and necessity, analysts, engineers, and systems accountants often resort to 'data dumping' between SAP ERP and Excel. They use this workaround to prepare reports, conduct analyses, and derive key insights.

The higher the demand for the detailed and comprehensive data SAP collects, the more of an issue this becomes. IT and data analysis leaders need an efficient and safe way to overcome the unique complexities of extracting SAP ERP data into the Azure data platform to meet the needs of growth-focused companies. From our work with enterprises, IT teams, and data analysis experts, we are familiar with the details of this problem and have formulated a solution.

How the Azure Explore Zone for SAP accelerator transforms data accessibility

The Azure Explore Zone for SAP accelerator creates a sophisticated yet simple-to-use data pipeline between SAP ERP and an Azure Modern Data Platform. It converts a technical, complex data extraction process into a simple configuration that both IT and business power users can collaborate on. After an implementation period of as little as 8 weeks, raw SAP ERP data is accessible and usable for data discovery and tactical reporting by power users – all with meaningful business names, and no more technical German field names.

The integration architecture of the end-to-end data flow eliminates some of the data extraction challenges previously mentioned. The remaining challenges have been solved by NTT DATA and are wrapped up as a pre-packaged and ready-to-deploy solution that speeds up time to value by around 3-4x. This is a major breakthrough for both enterprise leaders who want to properly report and present data and IT data analysis teams who are tasked to build an Enterprise Data Warehouse or Lakehouse that includes SAP ERP data.

Ready-to-use framework

The Explore Zone for SAP allows for quick and regular data transfer from SAP to an Azure Data Lake, a key component of modern data platform architectures. This efficiency is possible because many of the processes are pre-configured, significantly shortening the setup time. It includes pre-configured Azure services for the solution, pre-configured and delta-enabled data pipelines for the main tables of the most common business process areas in SAP ERP, a pre-configured ETL framework for Azure Data Factory, and an intuitive Power App user interface for configuring data replication and maintaining meaningful business names for data. The key ingredients are all there, out of the box.

Business-centered insights

This solution is designed to meet the needs of busy and data-hungry businesses. Regular extraction from SAP to the Azure Data Lake is automated, so the latest insights are always available. SAP data can be processed by power users in an SQL interface or through MS Power BI for dashboarding and visual reporting. The 'metadata-driven ETL framework' and user-friendly interface simplify the process of integrating new SAP ERP data into the Azure Data Lake. What used to take weeks of specification and development can now be done with just a few mouse clicks. Additionally, the SAP data field names are easily editable, making for a more intuitive experience. The business semantics layer makes data discovery simple for business users.

Accelerating time to value

Beyond the tactical reporting and discovery capability your power users are empowered with, the Explore Zone for SAP accelerator delivers a mandatory building block for the development of your Enterprise Data Warehouse or Lakehouse. An automatically updated data lake or bronze zone, delivered in weeks, means your IT data engineers can focus on implementing the business transformations and metrics that add real business value, rather than wasting months on SAP data ingestion.

Your guide in leveraging Azure Explore Zone for SAP accelerator

As digital transformation specialists and SAP partners, NTT DATA has a wealth of experience in the implementation of both SAP ERP and Azure Modern Data Platforms. This unique positioning makes us perfectly suited to support enterprises in overcoming the key challenges that appear in this platform pairing and in the utilization of both platforms to drive business growth. The Azure Explore Zone for SAP accelerator is built on our in-depth and comprehensive knowledge.

If you are a data-driven business, you need to get data into the hands of engineers, analysts, and decision-makers. Here is your time-efficient, cost-effective, and user-friendly solution.

Dimitri Zarganakis Practice Director, Data and Analytics

Dimitri Zarganakis

Practice Director, Data and Analytics