I’ve now had the weekend and a few days to think about the Press Conference that SAP ran to announce that Business Suite would now be available on HANA. The press conference itself was interesting with a lot of detail provided about future plans for the product suite. Also, it was good to hear two of Capgemini’s clients being mentioned in such glowing terms especially since they are in the vanguard of this new area of technology but, and there is a but, do I now feel that my SAP customers have something that can address the business problems that they are currently facing?
I think the honest answer is – Not Yet!
It is the age old issue of the technology outpacing a businesses’ ability to adopt it. Clearly there are a number of very good use cases where Business Suite on HANA will deliver significant benefit but what is the impact of change associated with achieving these benefits?
One of the use cases mentioned was MRP “at the speed of my imagination”. The opportunities here are huge but if I’m running MRP all the time can my manufacturing sites, my suppliers and my supply chain respond, I will still be constrained by my existing bottlenecks. In this scenario it will be important to bring all my partners with me and so the technology is only one part of the story with the usual challenges or people, process and data as important as ever. In addition, Capgemini has recently done a Supply Chain Management assessment for a global manufacturing organisation who has been an SAP client for many years and there were still significant benefits to be achieved at speeds slower than my imagination; there is still sweat available in those current assets!
Also, the area of Trade Promotions Management, does any company have it optimised currently to such an extent that in-memory processing is the next logical step? I would suggest not.
But, and there is ANOTHER but, there are opportunities around SAP on HANA that are immediate and should probably be focussed on first. Where SAP on HANA really hits home is outside the traditional areas of ERP and into new and exciting areas. Capgemini has already developed a use case around the analysis of data for crime fighting to demonstrate this, in addition SAP have shown how HANA can be used as an add-in to an on-line computer game to generate more revenue. By applying HANA to these types of problems give customers new solutions that lead to true competitor advantage and innovation.
So has a light bulb gone on or is this a grower? Realistically SAP on HANA is a grower that customers should be considering seriously now and put into their roadmaps over the medium to long term. But the real challenge will be how to present this new technology as an enabler for change rather than just a new type of database. As of last week, SAP’s message has started to re-emphasise the true relevance of this technology to the business community and so, in time, I believe HANA will grow to become the biggest light bulb moment since R/2 to R/3.