In our last series of Equipped to Compete blogs, we looked at the role of technology in a fast-growing business. When it comes to the crunch, you need your IT system to do two things. On the one hand, it has to be a reliable system of record – quickly capturing, processing, classifying, storing and retrieving transaction information. On the other, it has to analyze and present the same data in a way you find useful. The big problem is that these tasks have vastly different information processing needs.
According to the whitepaper The Road to SAP HANA a Choice of Paths to Take by Geoffrey Moore, IT systems have historically managed this problem by replicating the transaction data in a different location – often a data warehouse – where you can analyze it to your heart’s content. The trouble is that the process of relocation and restructuring leads to delays, mistakes and compromises.
In fact, the only places where real-time data management have been well established are high-tech niches, such as dynamic pricing of airline tickets or algorithmic trading on Wall Street. Which leaves an awful lot of companies that are still contending with a sub-optimized view of their information.
Things are different now. SAP has created a platform that is transforming information processing and has the potential to unleash the power of your business. SAP HANA lets you carry out both tasks while keeping your data in one copy, all in memory, all the time. This means that different programs can look at the same data simultaneously, no matter what they want to find out. And because of the cloud, there is more than enough computing power to go around.
So, why does this matter? Well, there are three pretty significant reasons:
- Analysis without compromise. For the first time, you can slice, dice and discover as you choose, when you choose. You can make decisions based on current, not historical, data.
- Simulations. You can explore different options in parallel before you decide on your best course of action. This has been possible in the past, but on a very limited basis – unless you were prepared to make a significant investment in time and resource. Now you can do it when you want, with all the data you want.
- Continuous improvement. You can learn lessons and apply the results in real time, with you in control of the timing and direction rather than hoping you end up in the right place at the right moment.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about SAP HANA is that it is remarkably undisruptive to your IT infrastructure because it adheres to established standards. However, it could transform your business processes radically, creating extraordinary opportunities to disrupt your market and grow. The interesting part is knowing when and how much to change.