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In the SAP world the buzz has lately been a lot about HANA. Here is another revelation – the immediate future is also going to be a lot about HANA. However, there will be some additional significant nuances to that notion. Increasingly, it will be about taking advantage of HANA capabilities in different interesting ways for varying business scenarios. Future discussions could be in the context of mobility and enterprise apps, and about leveraging the cloud and working in tandem with all SAP strengths to provide synergistic value to the SAP customer.

I stumbled upon an interesting feature in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Accountancy (Cloud Cover – Heads in the Cloud: Part 1) by Jeff Drew, where he reproduces a fascinating discussion amongst a panel of CPAs. When was the last time someone thought of accountants as being advocates of leading edge technology? Well, these accounting professionals did have very real and insightful comments about cloud computing. The discussion focused around the “unprecedented opportunities for CPA firms to do more chargeable work faster and with better client communications.” The discussion does acknowledge concerns of privacy, confidentiality and general security but the cool thing is that these are not seen as showstoppers! In other words, stalwarts of arguably the most conservative profession on the planet are looking at the Cloud as an opportunity to move the needle.

One CPA reported that her firm that uses cloud-based systems to provide outsourced accounting and advisory services to clients in the U.S. and overseas has started to give each new client an iPad to further help them collaborate. This is a small but significant sign of things to come – mobility and apps in the cloud, it appears, are destined to converge leading to a significant bang for the buck for every business taking that route. As companies seek to become more agile, they will not only want to see a lightening of their app layer but also a freeing up of resources hitherto devoted to big data – enter, HANA, or, in the right circumstances, HANA cloud.

What should we take away from this? If even the most conservative business professionals can see that the advantages of cloud computing outweigh traditional concerns, then why should other organizations with a lesser risk-averse disposition not step up and start to go down this path? For SAP customers, it should be heartening to note that SAP is aware of this and is taking a multi-pronged approach to help its customers – there has been significant internal investment of resources and a recent acquisition (http://bit.ly/zqaMN8) that together will aim to answer and anticipate customer needs. And, this is not happening in an isolated fashion – this is very much in consonance with the ongoing evolution of all SAP strengths that include HANA, Mobility and enterprise applications.

This year SAP customers can expect to hear a lot more about the Cloud – if you have been thinking about it, now is the time to act on it. Let’s get it moving.

P.S. The term “cloud” outside the technology world is often associated with less than completely desirable conditions. However, here is an inspiring quote from Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore that in some ways reflects the upbeat mood in the energized Cloud world at SAP – “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

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