5 Questions for Aiaz Kazi

Aiaz Kazi, Senior Vice President at SAP Technology & Innovation Platform Market Strategy

At the SAP Startup Forum in Berlin, in between the 17 SAP HANA application presentations, we took ten minutes to interview the man who has been involved with the real-time platform from the very beginning. We spoke with Aiaz Kazi, Senior Vice President of SAP Technology & Innovation Platform Market Strategy, about common themes among SAP HANA use cases around the world and his vision for the platform. The video interview has been transcribed with some edits below.

SAP.info: Mr. Kazi, you were involved with SAP HANA from the very beginning, on the marketing side. How does it feel to see so many startups wanting to develop on SAP HANA?

Aiaz Kazi: It’s very gratifying to see the adoption of SAP HANA for all these use cases. I was involved right from the get-go along with many people, where we had to roll up our sleeves and just get stuff done. To come from those meager beginnings and now see this groundswell of interest – from our existing customer base and larger partners, to startups around the world – this is wonderful. We’ve brought a technology and a platform that is going to provide a new way of building applications. Applications that are not only improving our daily business, but also the way we think and the way we interact with each other.

Read on the next page: SAP HANA is only as good as their applicationsYou mention the large enterprises that are adopting SAP HANA. We hear about the big customers like Surgutneftegas in press releases – not so much the little guys. Where do you see more potential for SAP HANA – with large enterprises or on the smaller startup side?

I think both. There are two or three different types of use cases. There are the traditional customers of SAP, who will use SAP HANA as the foundation for existing SAP applications and products, to accelerate and simplify them. There are also customers who are using SAP HANA in new areas, where SAP is not involved – their operational uses. Surgutneftegas, for example, could or will likely use SAP HANA for managing their gas operations and their drilling operations, and that has typically not been a place where SAP has played a role. At the same time, there are the startups and smaller companies that we talked about. A lot of times, it’s these companies that are able to come up with the more interesting ideas. Something that is earth-shattering; something that will change the way we think. For us, all of these use cases are very important avenues. Because at the end of the day, SAP HANA as a platform is only as good as the applications that are built on it. The applications will come from us, from our customers, from large enterprises, and just as importantly, from all the startups that are dreaming up new businesses and business models.

SAP Startup Forums have now taken place around the world – in the United States in Palo Alto and Seattle, in Berlin, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Beijing, Waterloo. Do you see common themes across these startups – about the problems that they’re trying to tackle?

There are multiple layers of common themes. One that I’ve heard at the forums that I’ve been to, and you heard VMS and some of the other startups talk about it today, is the actual line that they say, ‘We could not do this before SAP HANA.’ That is the most striking, common theme that comes across. From a functional perspective, the types of things we’re seeing are big data, predictive analytics, simulation, and the Internet of Things.

Read on the next page: The five dimensions of SAP HANAYou just threw out a couple of very trendy words – big data, Internet of Things. There’s a lot of hype around these kinds of ideas. Do you ever come across a use case that someone presents to you, where you think, you don’t really need SAP HANA for that. You could use a less exciting, but tried-and-true technology instead?

That’s entirely possible. And I’ll say this in my closing presentation, too. There are five dimensions that we look at, when we look at SAP HANA. How deep is the data, how wide is it? Can you go across granular data, structured and unstructured data? How simple does it need to be, and is it real time? Anywhere where you need two or more of these aspects, that’s a great use case for SAP HANA. And frankly, no other technology on the market today can do two or more well. At the most, some of them can do one. So sure – when you only need to speed things up, or when you only need to simplify things – you can use the tried-and-true technologies of yesteryear. But where you need to make that leap to two or more of these dimensions, to compete better and gain an advantage, then you definitely need SAP HANA.

What’s your vision for SAP HANA, and how does SAP Startup Forum play a role in that?

The vision for SAP HANA comes from the chairman of the company, our board members, and many people who spend a lot of time thinking about it. The key aspect that people now need to realize is that SAP HANA is a new type of platform for new kinds of applications. It’s a real-time platform on which startups, companies, and customers are going to build applications. Where the SAP Startup Forum helps is in fostering these key new ideas. We’ll build some applications at SAP, and our customers will build some more. But there’s a whole body of startups whose imaginations we want to tap into. We’re providing the platform, it’s their imagination.