SAP’s new high analytical applications turn ordinary data into proactive, real-time business decisions

JohannesburgIn May this year, SAP launched its high performance analytic appliance (HANA), revolutionary new software in the South African market. The software is optimised for in-memory computing, particularly for the analysis of huge data volumes.

Today, SAP has a growing catalogue of business-centric applications designed to address the conundrum of big data, large audiences and complex business and statistical calculations. The fact that HANA-based applications are able to process information 10 to 1 000 times faster than traditional systems opens up new vistas for real, real-time computing in an era of time-based competition.

Christoph Kull, EMEA Vice-President of Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing for SAP, who was in South Africa last week to speak to local customers and partners about HANA, said since its launch, the software had garnered more customers in a very limited time than any other product launch he’d worked on. “I have been with SAP for 13 years now, and this is by far the quickest adoption of a new solution I’ve ever seen.”

Yet Kull is not surprised by HANA’s success. “I truly believe that we are at an inflection point in the IT industry. Not just in South Africa, but globally. Real-time is the new buzzword, and nowhere is it more relevant than in business. If we are able to base our decisions on information that is being received in real-time, and that monitors what customers are actually doing, rather than what they did two weeks ago, we have an incredibly powerful business tool at hand. Possibly the most powerful – from an ICT perspective at least – that we’ve seen since the advent of the Internet.”

Based on the success of the initial HANA release, SAP is starting to roll out a wide range of over 50 new HANA-based applications across the globe. Each application has a particular industry focus and is applicable to everyone, from small and mid-sized organisations to large multinationals.

Based on the success of the initial HANA release, SAP is starting to roll out a wide range of over 50 new HANA-based applications across the globe. Each application has a particular industry focus and is applicable to everyone, from small and mid-sized organisations to large multinationals.

“HANA is more than just a fast in-memory appliance,” continued Kull. “It is an application platform with real-time analytical capabilities that can be used regardless of whether companies are already running SAP.”

Kull recounts a story about one of HANA’s newest users, an industrial machinery manufacturer in Europe. The client’s machinery requires regular maintenance. But until now, scheduling this maintenance has always been difficult and unpredictable. The timing is dependent on environmental forces such as wind, rain and sun, which vary hugely. With HANA however, the huge volume of data that the machinery is able to gather on a daily basis is immediately analysed and turned into real-time insight, allowing the scheduling of maintenance based on real-time experiences. This means better planning, and ultimately, a better-run business.

In retail, the insights HANA can provide are similarly revolutionary. A large retailer in the US that has been using HANA for a few months now, is utilising it for fraud detection at the point of sale. Similarly, a large American pay TV business has been able to tailor commercial breaks to individual viewers in real-time using HANA.

Particularly relevant to South Africa’s specific context is HANA’s application to the energy sector. Instead of basing energy usage patterns on the time of day, or the season, HANA is able to track demand and outages in real-time, thus allowing utility providers to tailor their generation, distribution and provisioning in real-time. This application is already having a huge impact on energy companies in Germany, which thus far have had to buy additional electricity from neighbouring countries to put up with Germany’s peak-time demand.

“HANA is revolutionary for many reasons: it uses RAM for physical storage and it can download any amount of data, process it, and then provide an analysis and response to queries within seconds,” said Kull. “But what we are most proud of is that it has become a tool that allows businesses to respond to issues instantaneously. It doesn’t rely on hindsight, or even research. It doesn’t consider what customers were doing a day ago, or what they say they’ll do a week from now. It looks at what is actually happening right now, and we are incredibly excited about the future of this application. We believe that this will be the game changer of the decade.”


SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software (*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 97 000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol “SAP”. For more information, visit http://www.sap.com.

(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, and related applications.

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