It is almost common sense that Analytics is a key element to generate value out of your data and discover new insight. Therefore, it is not surprising that our customer base for SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is continuously growing. Most of our SAC customers are heavily using the Analytics functionality to build a great dashboard and improve their business processes and decision-making. Still, quite a lot of our customers are also using or are at least testing the planning functionalities with this tool. But these functionalities are not everything SAC has to offer, and here comes the point that surprised me personally: Most customers are not using the predictive functionalities within SAC. This is quite unfortunate since the combination of all three analytics, planning, and predictions brings the most value and would help our customers leverage the full potential of their data. So, I was thinking of how we can motivate our customers to use the predictive capabilities and combine them with their analytics dashboards and predictions.
My goal was to give them the opportunity to experience how easy it is to make such predictions thanks to SAC Smart Predict and how it would enrich their already existing stories in SAC. Of course, the first thing that comes to one’s mind is a classroom training, but I didn’t want to go for another dull event. Especially in the virtual world, this can be deadly boring. My personal goal was to make it more interactive and fun. With this mindset, I came up with the concept of our Smart Predict Hackathons. The main idea of this 2-day event is that the participants work in groups of 3-5 people and try to solve together a given challenge. For this challenge, we used inspiration from real live use cases and simulated data so that the participant can solve a complete end-to-end predictive project in SAP Analytics Cloud. Even though the focus is on free hacking time to work on the challenge and test everything within a team, we have expert sessions so that the newbies to SAC and especially the Smart Predict features don’t get missed. During the entire two days, the participant will get some support from our experts to not get lost and frustrated.
You might remember the old days when you were able to meet people in person. Back then we started our first hackathons. When I began the planning for the hackathon starting last year, I planned for onsite events. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible, but I wasn’t willing to give up these events so quickly. That is why last year, I started organizing virtual hackathons. We adjusted the concept a little to fit better to the virtual world and could use the advantages it brings. The only problem I couldn’t solve was baking brownies for the participants and experts and delivering them virtually. Quite a surprise that neither Microsoft Teams nor Zoom offers the option “Share Brownie”, but only “Share Screen”. No worries, even in the virtual environment, the key aspects such as focusing on free hacking time and end-to-end predictive scenarios remained the same.
I must admit that I was very skeptical at first. Would we be able to keep our customers motivated and engaged in the virtual environment for two days? Fortunately, my worries were unfounded, and I was positively surprised how motivated our participants were and especially how they managed to organize themselves virtually and therefore created remarkable results. It has never been so tuff to vote for a winner. Luckily, as the experts, we don’t have to decide since the participants can vote democratically. After this first success, I felt comfortable organizing more virtual Hackathons in 2021. One advantage of the virtual world is that now some barriers like travel budget disappear, which enabled us to schedule an event for German-speaking customers and one for English-speaking customers from Europe.
Of course, we use the feedback from our hackathons last year to evolve the format further. Our super motivated customers asked for even more datasets to try out all the cool features SAC offers. We are delighted to fulfill this wish. Therefore, we developed a brand new challenge for this year with more data sets that tell a story and show you how the different Smart Predict capabilities can help discover further insights and combine them to generate the most significant impact.
I don’t want to tell you too much; no spoiler alert here! Do you want to find out more? We have two events coming up in March. If this gets you interest, feel free to register using the following links:
German event 16-17th of March: https://events.sap.com/de/sac-hackathon-2021/de/home
English event 23-24th of March: https://events.sap.com/de/de-sac-hackathon-2021/en/home
Special thanks go to our sponsors Jens Ihringer, Florian Decker, Christian Scheidel, and of course, our experts. Such events would not be possible without you.