Disruption is here - Part II: The changing face of the SAP HANA landscape

12 May 2014

James Appleby

James Appleby

Former Group Chief Executive

Just over a year ago I wrote Disruption is here: Run ALL of your SAP applications on HANA instead of another database. In it I talked about the release of Business Suite on HANA, and the enabling of most SAP applications to run on HANA, rather than legacy databases.

So what has happened since? Well, HANA momentum is building exponentially. We currently have 16 active HANA engagements at different stages. Last week we went live with a huge SAP HANA system at one of the world’s largest insurance companies. The client will use HANA to report its group accounts into the stock exchange. Technically, this was not just a simple SAP BW, BPC, BusinessObjects implementation, but had the characteristics required of a mission-critical system like HADR.

Conversations have moved from “shall we embrace SAP HANA?” to “how and when do we implement HANA?” The shift has happened because as we do more and more proof of concepts, the business value becomes clear. And it isn’t ‘just’ about speed. During a recent project, for example, we took an application that required 12 hours to devise a new pricing strategy and migrated it onto HANA where it ran in three seconds. The next step is to improve the business process to allow for adjusting pricing in real-time, which will have an even more significant impact on the bottom line.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still in the early days of this: SAP BW on HANA has, for many organisations, been a first foray into trying the new technology, and only a small percentage of our clients are live on it. Furthermore, the HANA platform used for building customer applications that combine real-time, transactional and analytical capabilities is the next step for many and this journey is starting now. In parallel, Business Suite on HANA is still in its infancy, with many clients not quite ready to trust their core ERP system to HANA, but it’s only a matter of time. 

Another turning point happened last week. For the first time, I had two conversations with different clients about the vision of moving their entire IT landscape onto SAP HANA. Is this possible? Not quite, but it is possible to create a roadmap to move from today's a situation, where an organisation has an enterprise license with a legacy database and some SAP HANA on the side, to a future scenario: having an enterprise HANA license and some other databases on the side.

Why are these conversations happening? There are two reasons for this:

  1. Simply, SAP HANA is better. It isn’t just a faster database, it’s a real-time data platform that, for the first time, provides solutions for a multitude of ongoing business challenges. For example, it can provide real-time pricing updates, using real-time data for predictions. It can simplify IT landscapes by removing the need for separate transactional and analytical applications, thus making organisations more agile. The list is long
  2. SAP innovation is increasingly happening by utilising SAP HANAs unique capabilities. To get the most out of SAP in the future, organisations will need to be on HANA.

So, as for replacing a legacy database with SAP HANA across the vast majority of an organisation…it won’t happen now, but it will happen, and perhaps sooner than we think for the most visionary of organisations.

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About the author

James Appleby

Former Group Chief Executive

When I started Bluefin, the premise was very simple: a values-drive organisation focusing on its customers and its people in equal measure. Amazing people with the right environment can do incredible things.

It has proven to be true, and I am immensely proud of what our customers and people have achieved, and what Bluefin has achieved as a result. Watching and helping people to grow, and seeing the results of that over 10+ years, makes me immensely proud, and the vision of being the world’s most customer-centric consultancy by 2025 is always at the front of my mind.

The world has changed immensely during our history, and technology is going through a seismic shift at the moment: the power of the consumer on the move; the shift of global economic power eastwards; the importance of climate change; next generation software personified in cloud computing; to name but a few. I love the opportunities that these changes create.

Outside of work, I love to share with my wonderful family and friends my passions of cycling, skiing and wine, although not usually at the same time.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race