The Case for SAP HANA

High speed. Real-time. In-memory. Whatever?

 

The IIJ Europe team recently attended the annual SAP user conference (UKISUG15) in Birmingham. Judging from the messages emblazoned on the 60-plus exhibitors’ stands, this show was all about capitalising on the SAP HANA revolution.

 

However, it soon became apparent that beneath the HANA-mania emanating from the stalls, the reality of the show’s 400 delegates and that of the suppliers was a pitch or two below perfect harmony.

 

Now, very few people question the seemingly limitless capability and sheer power of the SAP HANA platform to revolutionise the data landscape for organisations. Evidence of this can be witnessed in the burgeoning global start-up arena where ever more new firms are building their products on HANA[1].

 

Yet, the nature of enterprises and their complex corporate structures differs vastly from the blank canvasses enjoyed by the whizz kids. Being an established company often means long-term investments, countless IT systems, thousands of employees, multiple locations, demanding shareholders and so on. Of course, what this really equates to is slow-moving parts and an aversion to transformational change at all levels of the org chart. In short, it’s a big no thank you to risk.

 

So why specifically are enterprises not guzzling down the Hana Kool-aid? What exactly is the big risk? Well, it’s actually quite straightforward and something that came up time and again at UKISUG15: business case. Businesses across all industries are asking the question of “why” they should adopt HANA. Beyond the advertising slogans, decision-makers remain ill-informed of the tangible benefits as well as the use cases for effective implementation[2].

 

Indeed, UKISUG themselves have identified “lack of business case” as the number one barrier to adoption amongst a startling 71% of their membership[3]. While good news does exist in the notable numbers confirming a place for HANA on their three-to-four year roadmaps (31% with a further 63% intending to invest eventually), without clear and relevant business case guidance such roadmaps are destined to either pause or result in expensive failures for many.

 

For SAP partners, this absence of guidance poses a roadblock but also a significant opportunity with regards to their own HANA aspirations.

 

The fact is, if HANA is being factored into the plans of so many customers then obviously there is strong comprehension in the marketplace for the platform’s ability to drive efficiency; particularly in reducing the data footprint and fuelling innovation through greater insights gained from transactional and analytical data.

 

What SAP vendors need to do is help their clients identify and shape the business case that is pertinent to their unique business situation. From here, the roadmap attains clarity: crucially, organisations will know the processes they wish to improve, the skills they must acquire and which of the extensive catalogue of SAP products to start with (often a major challenge in the planning phase[4]).

 

With the business case established and the roadmap in place, the role SAP partners will play in securing successful HANA implementations is just as vital. During our three days at UKISUG15, delegates continuously cited lack of budget (large investments in current ERP estates), skills (70% of SAP costs are related to talent expenses[5]) and time as major factors contributing to a lagging uptake in HANA. As specialists in the SAP ecosystem, partners can help remove these obstacles; not only by designing the most efficient HANA execution strategies but by bringing their broad skills and licensing knowledge to the table.

 

Essentially though, widespread market adoption of SAP HANA all starts with sensible, realistic business case guidance. If this is to happen, then an effective triangular partnership must be forged between SAP, its partner network and the customers themselves. IIJ can readily testify to this from our own substantial SAP HANA experience and successes in the Japanese market. Without such vendor, supplier and client collaboration, HANA risks becoming the messiah of an empty church.

[1] http://www.zdnet.com/article/saps-new-cloud-strategy-includes-app-marketplace-new-pricing-scheme/

[2] http://www.techmarketview.com/ukhotviews/archive/2014/08/11/sap-and-the-hana-value-question

[3] https://www.sapusers.org/news/229/sap-hana-adoption-tepid-in-the-uk-as-users-seek-erp-optimization

[4] http://searchsap.techtarget.com/feature/Planning-for-SAP-HANA-adoption-can-be-challenging

[5] http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2015/02/10/saps-s4hana-the-potential-customer-disconnect/

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About Colin J. O'Sullivan

Colin O’Sullivan is a senior business and partner development manager, currently working with leading UK managed services provider, Wavex Technology. Colin has spent a decade in the technology industry, helping customers across the globe to drive organisational improvement through the adoption of world class products and services.

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