Several weeks ago, SAP announced the next step in retooling its various platforms to work closely with its blazingly fast in-memory database HANA. The company has now made available its SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. The new capability is being offered as a new option for SAP Business Suite customers, and it is well worth exploring, especially in the case of larger businesses that will find it a strategic advantage to not only have real time views into their businesses but to be able to run entire businesses from that real time perspective.
What we mean by this is that companies will be able to transact, analyze, predict instantly and proactively, and most importantly execute business processes – based on real time transactions performed on real time data from the field. A range of business scenarios that include marketing analysis, financial close, receivables management, material resource planning, as well as consumer and social sentiment analysis will become significantly more effective through HANA.
For those SAP customers that have the necessary infrastructure and IT resources in place to quickly deploy the platform, it should prove to be highly advantageous. SAP is working to provide a variety of HANA deployment options that cover both small and large businesses, but to be clear, on a larger scale HANA requires up to date – let’s call it state of the art – infrastructure to ensure that adequate resources are available for HANA to properly execute.
For larger organizations – especially at the Fortune 500 level, it will not be a trivial implementation. But the rewards for doing so will likely be significant. The combination of HANA and Business Suite provides the powerful ability to translate real-time insights into immediate action immediately, but also removes the complexity associated with redundant data and systems.
SAP has created what it refers to as “a non-disruptive service pack” to get the new SAP Business Suite benefit, and also if customers choose to migrate their database to the SAP HANA platform, SAP has made rapid deployment solutions available for fast implementation. But we caution that it will not be nearly as easy to deploy as that sounds.
Is it Smarter to Wait on Going Real Time?
In today’s mobile world, everything happens – as those of us in the mobile biz like to say – anytime and anywhere. It seems like a mere truism, but the implications are often greatly misunderstood, as are the benefits. Enterprises are often overwhelmed when they first move to operate within a mobile context, and sooner or later realize that “anytime, anywhere” literally means that your partners, customers and potential customers expect instant responses.
It’s certainly possible to deliver instant responses, but the point of HANA and the integration with Business Suite is that businesses can now respond truly in real time through highly informed decisions. With SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, an organization can accelerate its core business processes dramatically and evolve toward real-time scenarios. The integration of transaction management with real-time decision management eliminates the delays and inefficiencies inherent in parallel operational and business intelligence systems. This enables employees to make better tactical, operational and strategic decisions based on relevant, granular, up-to-the-moment data.
The effort to be successful however – as our running theme throughout this article makes clear - is non-trivial.
We certainly anticipate that many companies – and many SAP customers - will fall into the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” trap, preferring to keep to the status quo and the pseudo-comfort that goes with it. But HANA – and by this we mean in-memory technology, not only HANA – is a truly transformative technology, and one that is a tight fit with today’s mobile world. Every element of senior management – from sales to marketing to IT and to the CEO/CFO need to be on the same page with understanding what in-memory database capabilities can mean.
Derek Dyer, director, global SAP services at Deere and Company, provides a useful perspective: “We are extremely enthusiastic about SAP ERP now being powered by SAP HANA as this move will be a game-changer for John Deere. After a successful initial experience, we quickly made the decision to adopt SAP HANA as a platform of choice for many of our existing and future applications. We consider this major innovation from SAP as a new way to manage our business by revolutionizing the way we introduce new products and services to the market, drive critical processes for us such as materials requirement planning in real time and even explore a new world where predictive maintenance now becomes possible.”
Enzo Bertolini, CIO of the Ferrero Group puts the benefit squarely on mobility: “The goal for Ferrero in the next five years is to double the total turnover in non-European countries and SAP will be a key part of the success for us. The first impression of SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA is that we can obtain significant improvement in terms of speed and usability by working with real-time information. We expect clear benefits in trade promotions and supply chain with better simulation and faster planning. The future we imagine is combining mobility with big data to transform the way we make decisions and manage our processes.”
Bertolini touches on another issue, that of big data. We won’t dive into big data here, but it is clear that a key issue that we’ve hinted at is the ability to dig into huge and rapidly accumulating collections of data – keeping in mind that many of these collections of data are based on real time data – quickly to make highly informed business decisions.
The Move to Real Time: Non-Trivial but Completely Do-Able
For those customers that choose to migrate to SAP HANA, SAP is making available a full set of services, rapid-deployment solutions, as well as trained implementation consultants. A special rapid-deployment solution, which SAP anticipates releasing before Q1 2013 ends, will allow customers to go live in less than six months. The solution will provide a complete package of preconfigured software, implementation services, content and end user enablement for a fixed price and scope. SAP also notes that the pricing model for the solution will be based on the percentage of application value and is extremely competitive to market alternatives.
Oracle and Microsoft are working on their own versions of in-memory databases but to our knowledge SAP is, with its HANA-enabled business suite, currently the only provider of an integrated family of business applications that is able to capture and analyze transactional data in real time on a single in-memory platform. We can anticipate that SAP will also extend HANA for SAP Business All-in-One solutions, thus enabling companies of all sizes to benefit from SAP HANA – a key goal for SAP.
Other SAP HANA insights are available in previously published articles, especially on HANA itself, as well as on new SAP mobile analytics capabilities that can be delivered because of HANA.
Edited by Brooke Neuman