Coffee and plastics firm Miko has chosen to report its sales data for HANA Live and BW on HANA, with the help of Bmatix. ‘We are combining the power of HANA with the qualities of BW. That way we have the best of both worlds,’ says IT manager Herman Braeken.
The listed family company has two main activities of approximately the same size: delivering coffee to businesses and the production of plastic packaging. Thanks to healthy growth and target acquisitions, Miko currently has 909 employees. The company operates in 14 countries and exports worldwide.
To support its growth, Miko is committed to efficiency. For example by setting up a transparent, central IT environment that is permanently available in the company’s 24 branches, from Europe to Australia.
‘The business wants more, better and faster reporting of sales data,’ says Herman Braeken who, as IT manager, oversaw the switch to HANA Live and BW on HANA. ‘They want daily figures to react faster to changes. The reports must be legible on tablet or smartphone.’
The outdated BI environment was no longer sufficient. According to Herman Braeken, users often ignored the reports. ‘Our servers were old, the data weren’t always accurate or current enough. Anyone who wanted a new report had to keep going to IT. The reports were difficult to read for a layman and it took a long time to load them. That wasn’t sustainable.’
SAP HANA Live
Miko went looking for a solution within the SAP family and found the relatively new SAP HANA Live. Intrigued by the possibilities of the software, Herman Braeken decided to migrate the fifty most frequently used reports of the Miko sales team and the underlying data model to HANA Live.
‘HANA Live has a comprehensive reporting tool with more than a thousand standard reports,’ says Braeken. ‘We made the assumption that these reports and the capabilities of HANA Live, supplemented by our own fifty most frequently used queries, would be sufficient for our needs. SAP felt the same way.
Theory versus practice
Tests proved the reality to be different. HANA Live proved to be the right technology for part of the task. Simple reports did not cause any problems, but HANA Live was less well suited to more complex logics or a report with enriched master data and conversions.
‘The power of the in-memory technology — whereby data are stored in the RAM memory and not on the hard disk so that they can be processed more quickly — was offset by the fact that the data were continuously reconstructed from the bottom up. The server ended up crashing because all the memory had been used up,’ says Herman Braeken. ‘Bmatix didn’t want to develop the project any further in HANA Live alone — they even hinted they might pull out if we still wanted to continue the project in HANA Live, as they’d not be able to guarantee quality. It makes you think.’
Other providers did, however, suggest building the project in HANA Live. ‘If you apply the scripting language that goes with HANA Live, it can work. But we didn’t want to get involved in development. We just wanted to build an environment in which end users can create reports themselves without programming. We wanted an environment that’s flexible and easy to maintain.’
“Bmatix has found a way to reconcile the old and the new. HANA is a fantastic environment and we are familiar with BW. By combining the strengths of both, we’ve developed a perfect way of working.”
Herman Braeken, Miko, CEO
Looking for an alternative
Given their years of cooperation, Miko retained confidence in the judgement of Bmatix. Together they went looking for an alternative. ‘Bmatix put forward a combination of HANA Live and BW on HANA as the ideal solution. The word is that others also came to the same conclusion.’
Because there were no additional licence fees, Braeken decided to follow Bmatix. ‘Only the longer set-up time cost time and money. Bmatix made every effort to deliver the project on time. With success.’
Today Miko uses HANA Live for operational reporting and BW on HANA for tactical and strategic reporting. ‘Bmatix has found a way to reconcile the old and the new. HANA is a fantastic environment and we are familiar with BW. By combining the strengths of both, we’ve developed a perfect way of working.’
Spectacular loading times
Ten end users are currently validating the reports. ‘Let’s just say they’re in their element,’ says Braeken excitedly. ‘The loading times are spectacular. A report that used to take 43 seconds to load is now available in 1 second. The reports appear in Excel, an environment users are familiar with. Some are already browsing the reports of HANA Live on their own initiative.’
The team of Herman Braeken is also busy exploring the new possibilities. ‘We use Lumira for graphics and are currently experimenting with geocharts. It’s still all very new. Postcodes of Belgian towns aren’t yet available, for example. But the possibilities look fantastic. The sky’s the limit,’ says Herman Braeken.
‘Where loading data used to take a night or even a weekend, this is now possible in one hour or less. We’re considering renewing the data from BW on HANA twice a day. The data from HANA Live are obviously real-time information. This makes the data even more accurate for the business.’
After the summer Miko will roll this initiative out to the management, sales, controlling and finance departments. One employee will spread the HANA gospel to all branches worldwide. ‘Bmatix had it right, we can say that for sure. Other major players are now working this way too, and SAP now supports the method. We’ve set a good example.’
The history of Miko began in 1801 when Leonardus Michielsen established a coffee roasting and colonial goods trading company. His son Jan moved the business from Breda to Turnhout. The name Miko, derived from Michielsen Koffie, was born. During the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958 Miko introduced its famous filter. The designer who became world famous with Coca-Cola originally designed the Miko logo. From the 1970s Miko diversified, focusing on the production of plastic packaging in addition to its coffee activity. In 2014 Miko traded around 4,500 tonnes of coffee and 20,000 tonnes of plastic, achieving a turnover of EUR 159 million.