Tested 50 Million Times

Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Is the launch of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA comparable to SAP R/3?

Christoph Behrendt: In terms of dimension, we can certainly compare SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA to SAP R/3 because it’s a quantum leap and has the same – or perhaps even bigger – business potential.

Wieland Schreiner: The introduction of SAP R/3 and the three-tier client-server architecture was a revolution in IT architecture and gave immense added value to customers in mapping business processes. Today, it’s about a new architecture again, and one that offers quite new opportunities and provides solutions at an unprecedented speed. Our goal is for this new architecture based on in-memory technology to be seen as the standard in the future, like SAP R/3.

What exactly is special about SAP HANA?

Schreiner: SAP HANA isn’t just about getting a technological edge and it’s not just a database topic. It is now possible to have smarter business innovation, faster business processes, and simpler business interaction. We want to enthuse customers and users for a new generation of completely unprecedented applications powered by SAP HANA.

How can customers profit from it?

Schreiner: With SAP HANA, we are aiming for a major reduction of the total cost of ownership for our customers. Now we can operate all solutions – whether ERP, SCM, or CRM – on a single SAP HANA database and organize the interfaces between them in a much more efficient way. This applies particularly to having a common source for transactional and analytical functions.

Next page: How does SAP want to convince customers?

Christoph Behrendt, Chief Product Owner SAP Business Suite
Christoph Behrendt, chief product owner SAP Business Suite

Behrendt: Let’s take the planning processes in logistics as an example. Today, companies have so many plants and materials that planning often has to be performed at night. But let’s imagine there’s some kind of exception situation – a new sales order comes in or a truck gets caught up somewhere – then my planning is history. This is where accelerated planning, which also has simulation and forecasting capabilities, is highly valuable: to improve delivery quality, reduce stock levels, and increase customer retention. Such improvements in planning can save our customers millions.

As a result, real time takes on a new meaning. Thanks to the ability to speed up workflows and process and analyze very large quantities of data (for example, from social media or technical sensors), new, more intelligent processes and findings become possible for users. In all industries and in all areas.

How does SAP want to convince customers and users of this added value?

Behrendt: We already offer very attractive advantages to our customers by enabling companies to process all data – both structured and unstructured – in one place, without having to store it separately for analytical purposes. Furthermore, there are forecast and simulation features, new processes, and new user interfaces – on mobile end devices, too – with a simplified infrastructure. We offer this as continuous innovation: Our customers can switch their current implementation over by using enhancement packages and just migrating the database. In addition, we offer prepackaged implementation projects together with our partners, where the added value is shown individually for each customer.

Schreiner: We already have a good number of ramp-up customers and many more in the pipeline. We have many real-life examples of customers who have already migrated to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and who have already made significant improvements.

What does the road map for 2013 look like?

Schreiner: Last year, we shipped ERP, CRM, and SCM on SAP HANA, plus SAP HANA Analytics Foundation. In 2013, we’ll complete the whole industry road map for all 24 industries. We’ll continue to tap the opportunities of SAP HANA to implement extensive optimizations in financials, logistics, human resources, and product life-cycle management. We’ll add to SAP HANA Analytics Foundation and it will bear many fruits – in other words, analytical applications. New high-performance applications will concentrate on the new opportunities in planning, simulation, sensors, social media, and mobile.

Every quarter, we’ll ship another version, so that we can react very quickly to our customers’ needs and ideas and incorporate the feedback from the ramp-up customers into the product right away.

Read on next page: What made the development process special?

Wieland Schreiner, Product Owner SAP Business Suite powered by HANA
Wieland Schreiner, chief product owner SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA

Behrendt: It’s also part of the innovation strategy of SAP Business Suite to offer small packages. Customers can try them out and some of them can be operated side-by-side with their current customer landscape. Our customers have the choice of when and which packages they want to deploy and activate.

What made the development process special?

Behrendt: The close cooperation between the areas of research, architecture, technology, and application development was decisive and, in combination, made the development a success. We have tested more than 10,000 automated test cases for the SAP Business Suite to guarantee that everything is as reliable, stable, and high-performance as you would expect of SAP solutions. We had many customers who provided their genuine data, which was made anonymous, for our test lab. This enabled us to, for example, test 50 million documents.

Another requirement of the development was to devise applications that are easy to use, even for untrained users. And we automatically take a user-friendly approach called “mobile first” to building mobile applications, which we then transfer to the desktop. With agile development methods like design thinking and lean, and by closely involving users, more highly attractive solutions have emerged and are emerging.