In a recent study conducted in Germany by Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC), almost all users responded they believe that SAP HANA is going to be more than just a temporary hype. But only a quarter of the participants said that they intended to work seriously on the topic within the next three years.
To even find a “big data” subject on the agenda of CIO’s, one needs to look pretty intensely into the 2014 edition of the “IT Trends” study published by Capgemini in Germany. At the same time the number of smartphones on the planet exceeded the 1 billion mark. This trend alone which has been triggered only seven years ago by Apple’s iPhone generates vast amounts of new data. The volume of electronic data which is produced globally every month equals the content of 22 newspapers per human being on the planet and doubles every 18 months.
Technology innovations are brought to market in ever faster cycles. The technical possibilities to save millions of Dollars by intelligent valuation of existing data resources in the Enterprise and to develop new businesses with it are market-ready. Yet huge opportunities such as SAP HANA are only being adapted very slowly.
How does that fit together, I asked myself? The answer: not at all.

Wanted: agile IT organizations
There is a measurable relationship between the agility of an IT organization and the role it plays in the company. Due to the growing number of applications in the cloud, business departments are offered new opportunities to implement valuable solutions without participation or even without the knowledge of the in-house IT department. In trying to avoid becoming a substitutable operator of the existing legacy application landscape the IT department should merely be the trendsetter for innovative IT solutions. Or, to rephrase it in a positive manner: it has been a long time since the opportunities for the CIO to permanently establish himself as an engine for the company’s success has been as manifold as they are today.

The five topics on the HANA Agenda
The behavior of many IT departments reminds me – especially with Big Data topics – of the reaction of children in imminent danger: they keep their eyes shut. Just as if something that I cannot see does not see me either. Sit and wait, be passive and in the end potentially loose the driver seat is the worst of all options. There are far better ways to respond to the challenge. Using the example of SAP HANA, I would like to introduce one of them to you. I call it “the Hana agenda of the CIO”:

  1. First priority for innovation 
    Give innovation (at least) the same priority as continuous optimization of your business.
  2. No business case without use case 
    All surveys and practical experiences show that the identification of valuable use cases for SAP HANA represents a major challenge for IT. Let SAP itself inspire you or be creative and generate your own ideas – by starting an internal idea competition for example.
  3. Focus, focus, focus 
    Follow a two-steps approach in structuring and prioritizing your brainstorming:
Step 1: In which of the three dimensions does your use case provide added value?
a) Optimization of IT
b) Improvements / changes to existing business processes
c) or development of new businesses
Step 2: Proceed only with use cases that meet all of the three criteria listed below:
a) fits the company’s strategy
b) can be implemented with existing resources (know-how, technology, staff, budget, time)
c) provides a clear and positive business case.
  1. One for the Money 
    Expect failures – and continue courageously.
  2. Think big, start small 
    Many projects do not fail because the objectives were too ambitious. The fail because the goals were not ambitious enough and therefore no one took them seriously. Develop a HANA vision for your business and then go step by step towards it. Start with quick wins.

Finally, I would like to quote again the PAC study from the beginning. It says that among those respondents who have never dealt with HANA, almost twice as many expect no significant business value, than in the group of those who have already done so. The examination of SAP HANA is obviously worthwhile in any case. What are you waiting for?