SAP HANA: The Art of the Possible

Feature Article | June 4, 2013 by John Hunt

Photo: SAP

Photo: SAP

During his keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe announced the general availability of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. He pointed out that this happened ahead of schedule, and noted that early customers have already shown the value that all companies can expect when they run SAP Business Suite applications on SAP HANA.

Snabe described the different ways that customers from numerous industries are benefiting from the combination of SAP HANA and SAP Business Suite. In financial services, for example, SAP HANA helped Standard Bank of South Africa reduce the incremental cost of adding new accounts, enabling them to provide banking services to the world’s poor.

SAP in-memory: Customer accounts straight from the source

The most compelling stories at SAPPHIRE NOW, however, came directly from customers themselves. Over a dozen customers appeared in various sessions where they shared their experience with the SAP Business Suite applications powered by SAP HANA.

Next page: SAP HANA: A real game changer

James Cocca, CIO of Spirit Aerosystems, pointed out that SAP HANA doesn’t necessarily accelerate all transactions, but makes a difference where it really counts. He explained that the true value of this modern platform lies in real-time planning. In his words: “It’s a game changer.”

SAP HANA reduced the processing time of one financial report at Spirit Aerosystems from 40 hours to 20 seconds. “That’s a 7,000 times improvement,” noted Cocca, “but you could never justify the move for a report that only runs once a quarter.”

James Cocca went on to tell how the real-time nature of the suite on SAP HANA can significantly increase throughput on the shop floor. “When you have a US$36 billion backlog,” he said, “avoiding further capital expenditure can save you hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Improved testing capacity for Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes-AMG shared an example of how real-time processing, together with predictive analytics, can translate into decreased capital expenditure. SAP HANA’s ability to process 10,000 data objects per second from engine sensors allowed the customer to stop what would have been failed engine tests after only three minutes. Previously, the entire test would have had to run, which took 50 minutes. According to Dirk Zeller, Head of IT Consulting at Mercedes-AMG, these savings could amount to “an extra day of testing capacity each week.”

Next page: Reports based on up-to-the-minute data

Falko Lameter, CIO of Kaeser Kompressoren, explained the real-time impact of SAP HANA on decision support. “You need information to make decisions,” he said. “Services managers will now be able to schedule based on up-to-the-minute information regarding customer problems, spare parts availability, and technician capacity.”

Faster CRM, marketing and sales support

In the case of the company Lenovo, a batch consolidation process bringing together data from various systems meant that reports were based on eight-hour-old data. And according to Shao Yu, Deputy CIO of Lenovo, the internal customers she supports with CRM, sales, and marketing “aren’t known for their patience.”

Shao Yu related how simply accelerating the search function in SAP CRM, one of the SAP Business Suite applications, could have a major impact on many core processes. The channel management process, for example, can run 40 times faster.

Next page: Improved capability to make quicker decisions

In addition to the data gathered from proofs of concept, several customers talked about their future expectations of the solution for their business applications.

For example, Brian Nooney, Director of Sales Solutions at Mohawk Industries, explained how his company was integrating data from six different systems into an application designed to run natively on an iPad for a “Customer 360 view.”

SAP ERP: Quicker decisions and improved performance

Derek Dyer, Director of Global SAP Services at Deere and Company, said: “As the first customer that went live with SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA, we aspire to improve our capability to make quicker decisions on design data, to gain real-time insights on very large volumes of live data, and to see significant performance improvement in our new product introduction process.”

James Cocca of Spirit Aerosystems summarized the opportunity perhaps best when he said: “Think about the art of the possible – what is a problem you can’t solve? A 10 or 50 million dollar problem… How can you apply the HANA technology to solve it? That’s the real return.”

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