In-Memory Technology Continues to Blaze Path Towards Widespread Adoption

Blog | March 10, 2011 by SAP News

Do people really need more disruption in their lives? Definitely not, and that’s one of the key messages SAP Executive Board Member Vishal Sikka hit upon during his opening keynote at the SAP Run Better tour in Boston. Sikka cleverly used in-memory computing technology and SAP In-Memory Appliance (SAP HANA) – both considered “disruptive” technologies in the IT world – to make his point. In case you haven’t heard, the lightning-fast processing speed of in-memory technology enables users to make more informed business decisions virtually on the fly. There’s hardly anything disruptive about that and Sikka drove this point home nicely with a smattering of high-level anecdotes, technical demos and yes, real customer proof points.

To appropriately set the stage for in memory and its far-reaching impact, Sikka reminded attendees that SAP is a unique enabler of trade and commerce since roughly two-thirds of the world’s GDP touches SAP in some form. And with three big areas of excitement coming down the pike for SAP (in memory, cloud and mobility) it only makes sense that SAP is on the precipice of re-establishing its technology leadership. Or as Sikka puts it: “We were tired of doing the boring things. It is time for the enterprise landscape to become cool again.”

It is only a matter of time before nearly everything runs on a mobile device, according to Sikka and for SAP’s part, it’s important to make sure new innovations come to customers without disruptions. Both SAP and Sybase have been working out a mobility strategy since 2002 and now that a core tech dimension has been established, there’s absolutely no reason why traditional SAP ERP systems can’t benefit from the innovation without disruption that in memory and mobility can offer, according to Sikka. “Mobile applications will liberate traditional SAP ERP systems,” he said.

Likewise, midmarket companies will have the opportunity to be liberated from high IT costs with a full suite of SAP Business ByDesign products. A family of cloud-based apps like SAP Carbon Impact OnDemand and SAP Sales OnDemand are also available for large companies. Sikka said these types of cloud investments from SAP will “have a huge impact” on lowering IT costs for businesses of all shapes and sizes. And while the promise of cloud computing is exciting on a variety of different levels, it doesn’t carry as much of a “wow” factor as in-memory computing does. In short, in memory, and more specifically, SAP HANA are game changers. Did I just use an over-used buzzword to make a point? Yes, I did. But there really is no other way to sum up the power of SAP HANA when it produces these types of results:

  • A large consumer products company gained a view of its profitability in 736 milliseconds; a process that normally takes six minutes
  • A manufacturing company’s general reporting activities that used to take days to complete now takes seconds
  • The cross selling efforts of a financial services firm went from 45 minutes to five seconds

While SAP HANA has the ability to make a profound impact on the performance of a company, Sikka also said SAP HANA is not just about “breathtaking performance,” but simplifying the landscape and changing the way people work as well. For instance, SAP customer Medidata Solutions ran a very complex query using SAP HANA. A process that normally took 47 minutes to complete is now down to two seconds. “We’ll be able to spot and solve problems early and give our folks the tools they’ve never had before,” said Glen DeVries of Medidata Solutions.

If you still think in-memory computing technology is a half-baked pipe dream, think again. Sikka said every SAP product will eventually adopt in-memory technology.

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  1. Larry

    “The cross selling efforts of a financial services firm went from 45 minutes to five seconds”

    Who cares? what was the financal impact of the change considing the price of HANA at 10X compression is in the area of $500K excluiding services cost?

    If cross selling is set up correctly the sales person will already have the information available within the CRM or sales system while on the phone with the customer.

    Please provide true cost benifit analysis.


  2. It is not just about “breathtaking performance,” but simplifying the IT landscape and changing the way people work as well. The context of the query response reduction is crucial in quantifying the benefit– It is not the sales person who is given target list of potential customers to call and to cross-sell products. Today many financial institutions are struggling to identify the customers with the highest probability of purchasing a product or service. This analysis is usually performed by a highly qualified market/data analyst who runs multiple queries, constantly refining parameters as he/she discovers insights from queries. Very similar to how most users on the internet use search engines like Google to discover and search for information on the web. For this person the query response from 45 minutes to five seconds is significant as the person can perform many multiple queries iteratively during a single thought process. Hence the cost benefit is clear because the quality of these predictive models that are developed produce target lists, that contain the customers who are most likely to make a purchase decision, much faster. This translates into productivity gains of the analysts that create the predictive models, productivity gains of the sales staff, increases revenue and customer satisfaction and reduces IT complexity. The power of being able to analyze increasing volumes of customer data at unprecedented speed and granularity leads to improved understanding of customer behavior. Hence financial institutions can just as easily anticipate and counter-act customers taking their business elsewhere or increase customer retention with better service offerings.

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