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Multichoice embraces future with SAP Hana

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Every day millions of South Africans turn to a plethora of channels and services for their entertainment. Movies, local programming, international hits and the latest in sporting events make up but a part of the staggering media empire that is the Multichoice South Africa Group.
Established in 1993, Multichoice has become the monolith of pay-media entertainment across the African continent. In South Africa alone it services over five million subscribers, tracking more than four times as many devices and components, including decoders and smart cards. At the same time Multichoice is also the umbrella that makes a home for media franchises such as SuperSport, Mzanzi Magic and M-Net.
This defines a robust yet complicated environment – traditionally a technology nightmare. For this reason Multichoice sought to simplify matters and in 2011 adopted the SAP innovation technology platform. In particular, it uses the platform to manage intellectual property and finance across the group divisions, as well as the distribution demands of its decoder business.
“The gains we made from adopting SAP have been tremendous,” says Mark Longridge, SAP program manager at Multichoice. “But that was only the beginning. As Multichoice grew, we wanted our SAP environment to follow suit.”
In late 2015, Multichoice’s internal team of SAP experts embarked on their next goal: migration of SAP Supplier Relationship Management, SAP Enterprise Core Component and SAP Intellectual Property Management solutions to the SAP Hana environment not only because of the anticipated efficiencies of its speed but also to take full advantage of the existing SAP technology bedrock that the company had laid down over the years.
“There were no performance problems – no proverbial gun to our head forced us towards SAP Hana. Instead the move made perfect sense: it became apparent that a lot of new functionality was being developed in the SAP Hana environment and we wanted access to those advancements. This is not about catching up, but staying ahead.”
The team is keen to further exploit SAP’s financial tools through Simple Finance, the industry-leading suite that dovetails with SAP Hana’s speed and flexibility. Longridge also commended the ability to deploy many instances of the software on one platform, allowing for the group’s divisions to meet their own needs without creating an unwelcome riot of solutions.
The migration to SAP Hana was accomplished in less than 14 weeks, aided by the presence of an internal SAP team which understood the Multichoice environment. In fact, they were eager to accomplish even more, but instead heeded advice to stagger deployments. That the Multichoice SA Group’s business units already engaged a single ERP platform was also a terrific boon: further proof that it is essential and highly advantageous for companies to distil their back office environments to singular platforms.
Using this opportunity, the team expanded on Multichoice’s SAP implementation by adding some new software modules. This included logistics platform modules such as SD (Sales & Distribution), MM (Material Management) and CS (Customer Service) – all specifically to enhance Multichoice’s stock and distribution operations. Channel Costing was enhanced with the IPM (Intellectual Property Management) and BPC (Business Planning and Consolidation) modules.
Even though Multichoice did not embark on this business transformation journey just for the sake of efficiencies, it nonetheless found those. SAP Hana’s in-memory speed was clearly evident, as were the space savings. The new database systems shrunk older implementations by an average of 35%, delivering a knock-on effect for disk space demands and disaster recovery strategies. Multichoice could do more without negatively impacting its cost of ownership. It also realised savings from SAP Hana’s licensing regimes.
“The point of the migration was bringing Multichoice in line to take advantage of SAP Hana research and development,” explains Longridge. “But we still saw immediate turnaround benefits – through SAP Hana’s CDS functionality we were able to extract 25-million records in a matter of seconds. That, frankly, was unheard of. Different teams are already taking advantage of SAP Hana’s more agile infrastructure management tools. I’m really excited to see what 2016 will deliver as we start to adopt new flavours of Simple Finance and Simple Logistics, not to mention exploit SAP Hana’s in-memory processing.”
Crowned as a resounding success, the SAP Hana migration for Multichoice South Africa will serve as the flagship for its divisions across the African continent. Though also SAP customers, these business units still largely operate on more rigid disk-based database technologies. It speaks of a large enterprise’s supreme satisfaction
“A forward-looking organisation like Multichoice knows its future is being built on the world’s most solid innovative technology platform: SAP Hana.” says Brett Parker, MD SAP Africa.