Business Objects or HANA? A guide to SAP analytics environments
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It would be hard to find an IT executive who has not spent time considering SAP's in-memory technology.
The potential of SAP HANA is becoming more widely recognised by businesses, as in-memory computing starts to creep up the agenda of the C-suite and board. While today the in-memory database is speeding up certain business processes, tomorrow it could enable the real-time enterprise through ERP transformation.
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SAP HANA started getting attention because of its capability to speed up the processing of huge amounts of disparate data by the factor of 1,000 times.
One of our clients, a global multinational company with operations in food, agricultural and risk management, migrated their existing data warehouse to HANA to support reporting across all major business areas. Now reports are executed 100 to 400 times faster than in the past and customer and client queries are being responded to 60 times quicker than before.
For a leading aerospace company, we helped implement HANA to improve its financial close processes and reduce the need for rework, resulting in a more than 100% increase in cycle time for financial reconciliation and improving the accuracy of data.
Three approaches to SAP HANA
Process acceleration is still at the heart of how enterprises adopt HANA and we believe enterprise resource planning (ERP) transformation is the logical next step.
To date, we have identified three different major routes organisations take or are planning to take when implementing HANA. They range from the tactical -- addressing a single business process to understand its relatively low risk potential -- to the full-scale transformation of ERP systems.
The first approach calls for organisations to use complete solutions to address a specific business challenge, consisting of packaged hardware, software and services offered by service providers, on premises or as a cloud-based solution. Such solutions cater to a specific business need and a specific industry. They offer a low-risk implementation, enabling organisations to use HANA to achieve a specific business goal.
The second approach organisations can take is using HANA architecture to accelerate one or more business processes. These are often run in a separate system, offering an opportunity to harness the advantage of HANA, without causing disruptive change to existing systems. This can also act as a means to build the business case for a wider implementation, at minimal risk.
ERP transformation enables the real time enterprise
A third approach involves the full-scale move of an ERP system onto HANA technology. This approach will gain momentum as HANA is becoming the future platform for the entire SAP business suite, and also with service providers developing more industry specific templates. HANA and Business Suite on it will enable a real-time enterprise by transforming ERP where real-time insights drive real-time actions.
For example, a company with the capability to instantly monitor demand for its products through analysis of social media activity will multiply this advantage once these insights can fuel real time supply chain processes.
ERP transformation to HANA will involve a complete application and technology refresh and transformation of existing business processes. It will also provide the opportunity to consolidate and renovate existing SAP deployments across the platform. From what we have observed, there are enterprises that are already taking advantage of major IT transformations to integrate HANA and apply it to certain business areas. This can very well serve as the first of further serious steps that lead to a truly real-time enterprise.
SAP HANA can help organisations in three critical ways: to run the business, grow the business and transform the business. Today, there is no single right or wrong path to HANA adoption. One of the benefits of HANA is that it's possible to drive several initiatives with specific business goals at the same time. For now, most SAP users will settle on pursuing at least one of these approaches and soon other companies will follow.
About the author:
Nicola Morini Bianzino is a managing director and global lead of SAP Analytics and HANA at Accenture and Dr. Alexander Zeier is a managing director and global lead of in-memory technology at Accenture.