James Thew - Fotolia

Hana and S/4 users more sophisticated but beset by licensing doubts

Research sponsored by SAP consultancy Centiq finds SAP customers maturing their use of SAP Hana and S/4 Hana, but hindered by licensing concerns and dearth of skills

UK SAP customers are pushing forward with more sophisticated uses of the supplier’s Hana database and its S/4 Hana enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, but concerns about indirect licensing and a skills deficit are hampering the push.

These are among the top-line findings of a study carried out by research firm Coleman Parks for SAP consultancy Centiq.

The report follows on from a previous one, Debunking the three myths of Hana, which advanced the view that, contrary to popular belief, Hana projects are mostly on time, on budget, and not entirely driven by the demands of data analytics.

The Centiq state of SAP Hana 2018 report is said to “demonstrate SAP Hana’s importance to businesses as a catalyst for innovation” and reveals “90% of projects are driven by internal business strategy teams”.

It surveyed 247 UK users across financial services, manufacturing, retail and distribution, technology and telecoms, and the public sector.

The research found drivers for Hana include processing data for real-time decision making (61%), integrating data from multiple sources (60%), and gaining deeper customer insight (59%).

The research found public cloud, and not SAP Cloud, was housing the vast majority of Hana implementations. Some 88% of respondents said they deployed Hana either entirely in public cloud, or in conjunction with on-premise or SAP Cloud.

Almost every respondent (99%) said Hana was a “driving force for business innovation”, by which the report said they mean better data cleansing, process reconciliations and customer onboarding processes. The report also said customers in the media and entertainment sectors had focused 94% of their Hana projects on cost reductions.

Matt Lovell, chief operating officer at Centiq, said: “When SAP Hana launched in 2011, many initially struggled to create compelling business cases or measurable return on investment. Seven years later, this has changed. Organisations both large and small need agility, responsiveness and deep customer insights to be competitive, and they are mostly achieving this using cloud-based IT services.

“On-time and on-budget projects have become the norm, and despite some shortages of key skills, the resounding message from our research this year is that Hana is now delivering on the promises made at the time of its launch”
Matt Lovell, Centiq

“Our latest research is incredibly revealing. The cloud proliferates, but it is still unclear what role public cloud plays in SAP Hana environments. Yet, despite the confusion, there is a great deal to feel positive about.

“On-time and on-budget projects have become the norm, and despite some shortages of key skills, the resounding message from our research this year is that Hana is now delivering on the promises made at the time of its launch.”

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Lovell said SAP’s full-blown ERP system, S/4 Hana, was markedly in evidence among users, as well as the database Hana being deployed for analytics use cases.

In respect of Centiq’s own customers, he said: “The main advantage in the past 12 months has centred on Hana in production for better business processes, related to SAP Business Warehouse. In non-production S/4 projects we are seeing much tighter processing and integration around the migration from ECC [the previous SAP ERP system] and connections to other platforms for analytics. These are related to processes for logistics, fulfilment, customer satisfaction, and so on. Those tend to be part of much larger change programmes for the business than BW on Hana.

Read more about SAP Hana usage

  • Research into the user adoption of SAP’s Hana database platform and its S/4 Hana ERP system presents a confusing pattern. Storming ahead or running aground?
  • Accenture consultants identify three ways to adopt HANA: tactical, addressing a single business process, full-scale ERP transformation.
  • Read how S/4Hana cloud adoption starts to flourish in fast-growing companies.

“Customers are starting to do more complex, wide-ranging projects with Hana.” However, that is creating fresh challenges, said Lovell. “Hana’s ability to deliver real-time analytics and data integration has opened up the opportunity to run ‘side-cars’, with Hana alongside other SAP architectures. But when you consider how complex SAP licensing is, with respect to indirect access particularly, then both sides – users and SAP – still have work to do to get to a point of clarity.

“There is also, still, a pressing skills requirement – especially for cloud-related skills in migrating your existing business processes from your existing SAP technology to Hana and S/4 Hana.” 

The report said that while some 94% of respondents cited skills as an issue with SAP Hana, these skills are increasingly dependent on the need for business process change, and for organisations to understand the integration requirements of existing systems and data volumes which need to be optimised prior to adoption.

“The fact is, these are business issues, and perhaps as a result, fewer projects in the past 12 months have been led by IT or technical teams 52% (last time) and 24% (this time). Indeed, this research reveals strategy teams, not technical experts, are the most likely to drive [Hana projects],” it said.

Read more on Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software

Data Center
Data Management