Skip to Content

If SAP HANA is the answer what is YOUR question?

SAP HANA was everywhere at the recent SAPPHIRENOW event in
Orlando. It was part of all of the keynotes, it was to be found within the
booths and sessions and on the lips of the attendees as they took in the event.
A year ago I was in London attending the SAP World Tour and listened to the
live-link to SAPPHIRENOW where HANA was unveiled. After that event I wrote the
following blog which I would like to build to add to now.–so-what-is-the-question

Out of the keynote messages, the messages from the booths
and the voice of the attendees it was clear that customers still did not get
HANA. Whilst wandering through the event I was stopped a number of times to explain
SAP HANA. There were 15,000 attendees at SAPPHIRENOW made up of SAP employees,
SAP Partners/ Consultants and SAP Customers and users. All of the glamour of
the keynotes did nothing to help the simple SAP customer understand exactly
what HANA is and why they should be considering it.

Keynotes:  I liked the keynotes. They are a good way to gauge the mood at the top of SAP.
It is clear that the board members are confident and are all bought into SAP
HANA. It was good to see customers that use SAP products explain how and why
they use SAP HANA. The key message that I got from the keynotes related to the
speed of SAP HANA leading to benefits for customers. Aside to this it was clear
that the size and costs were not too restrictive. What was also interesting to
learn was Jim Snabe’s position that “in-memory” will be the norm within 5
years. This is a brave position to take however one that I can understand. There
was also some interesting news around the availability of SAP HANA with
Business One and SAP BW on HANA. With both of these new releases the scope of
HANA has grown, increasing the potential demand and popularity.

Booths and sessions: There were a number of booths
that had HANA boxes running on them. To a mere mortal and not a techie all you
see is a large box and you can hear the hum of the servers. Performance was the
key message from the partners and vendors. The hardware seems key to the
vendors and I wont pretend that I know too much here. One thing that should be
pointed out is that HANA can only be run on new IT hardware which will leave
your existing hardware surplus to requirements.

Voice of the customer: It was clear that there was some confusion. All of the messages sounded
great but did these messages actually relate to them? Customers were confused,
they knew that they should be using it but they did not understand why. Does
having faster reporting provide a true ROI to implement SAP HANA? There was a
real sense of confusion as to the reasons why they should make the leap. It was
also clear that a high percentage of customers had not heard or accessed the
experience SAP HANA website which I would encourage you to do.

My view: SAP HANA answers multiple questions and customers should be looking to
identify them all. Looking at performance for example is short-sighted. Being
able to reduce hardware costs, reduce IT suppliers should be brought into the
equation. The current SAP HANA customer based should be seen as pioneers. They
have taken a jump into the unknown and can articulate the benefits they have
realised. They have architects that can see the bigger picture and will use
this to design their future IT landscape; this is something other customers
should pick up on. The other message that seems to be overlooked is the benefit
of the speed and performance of bigger data.. Better data will enable you to
make better decisions. Being able to drill down further into data will enable
certain reports and analyses that were deemed impossible are now achievable
with SAP HANA. Here I feel I can add some value; where you have a reporting pack
for a business unit, ask them to challenge SAP HANA. Have a blank piece of
paper and ask them to come up with the data and the analysis they would really
like rather than what is achievable. In certain pockets of the business
community you will find there are historically reporting requirements that are
deemed to be unachievable. Finding those reports and users within your business
will enable you to find the right question to warrant investment to purchase
and use SAP HANA.

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
  • “….and the voice of the attendees it was clear that customers still did not get


    This is unbelievable. The name is not only non-intuitive but also confusing because of Hana, Hawaii. I don’t believe there is a lack of SAP-HANA information. Plenty of information is available; it seems like a pure psychology issue. When you’re used to connecting a certain thing to something, it is difficult to undo that thought and then connect the same thing to something else. The name is probably triggering a high level of distraction while listening to sales people talking about SAP-HANA’s capabilities. 

    Also the name SAP-HANA doesn’t sound COOL. My 2 cents. I’m curious to hear psychologist’s take!!!

    • Bala – remember the majority of the customer based attendees are at a management level. These are the people that need TO BE influenced. Some of these attendees hold the purse strings and they need to get it.

      To be fair I have not thought too much about the actual name “HANA”. I dont think IT buyers buy names but functionality, and perhaps a bit of reputation.

      • Hello Mark,

        Just to add to your statement that IT buyers don’t buy names but functionality and a bit of reputation, I somehow feel that reputation at times creates a much hyped view of a product. Last year, in a customer meeting, I remember HANA was very much on their agenda whereas many had not even heard of Streamworks. Reputation of a product certainly impacts IT buyers.



      • Hi Mark,

        IMO management level people are normally influenced “bottom-up” meaning they want to hear from their employees first about new technologies and how new technology would help their business. When they visit conferences, they try to collect more information – on what they heard from their employees – first hand from the vendors. When I saw your comment “Customers still did not get HANA”, I wanted to bring up something several of us probably overlooked. After posting that comment, I happened to read this tweet from Peter Chee(Retweeted by John Appleby): (Not sure if it is going to show up correctly; if not, here is what it states:

             “If your business deals with something friends don’t easily discuss over dinner… it won’t grow virally”

        <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p>”If your business deals with something friends don’t easily discuss over dinner… it won’t grow virally” @<a href=”“>giltalexandra</a> <a href=”“>#byinvitationonly</a></p>&mdash; Peter Chee (@pchee) <a href=”” data-datetime=”2012-05-21T05:23:23+00:00″>May 21, 2012</a></blockquote>

        <script src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

        Let us digress and compare SAP-HANA with Watson:

        Difference between Watson and SAP-HANA:

        Lately I don’t hear about Watson; Watson was a big news about a year ago. Surprisingly several of my friends – not working in technology – know Watson. However even people working in technology space in Silicon Valley but not in SAP world, don’t know SAP-HANA but they know Watson. This is a fact based on personal experiences. Note: Since I live in US, my response is based on US experiences.

        Why SAP-HANA is not as popular as Watson?

        I can think of two reasons:

        1. IBM associated Watson with Jeopardy, very popular and reputable US TV quiz show. Instead of telling the world that Watson was very good at performing “real-time analytics”, they demonstrated the capabilities using a great use-case. This evoked curiosity and people started discussing Watson over dinner.
        2. IBM named the product Watson, a simple and unique name.

        The name may or may not be a factor (may be we’ve not seen a strong use case for SAP-HANA yet) as to why the customers still don’t get HANA; my idea was just to bring up something I thought after reading your blog and learn from others.

        I hope this helps.



    • Hi Bala,

      I’m wondering if this is a joke you’re making on HANA that I don’t get. Do you really believe that a substantial number of people in this world even knows Hana, Hawaii at all? I’d put out a bet that all over Europe you are at least 5 times more likely to get the quick association (phonetically correct but otherwise wrong) ‘Montana’ than you get ‘Hawaii’. And most likely you don’t get any association at all. With ‘any’ I mean any, no positive no negative. And it won’t be much different in, say, India.

      I agree with you that it doesn’t sound cool in any sense.


  • Hi Mark,

    good blog as usual. i like your concept of “simple SAP customer” as it reminds me a bit of “reasonable man” notion in the English law. to me, HANA is a natural step in the evolution of RDBMS that is potentially disruptive in the marketplace. the success is by no means guaranteed, but it’s more than a simple marketing ploy.

    actual names do evoke certain images. to me, it’s a river in Moravia and a character in a play by Vaclav Havel which incidentally has some relevance, the play rather than the river, that is.

    going back to the simple customer, i don’t really think they exist. big data is produced by big and complex organizations and HANA seems to have appeared just in time to help with reporting and shortening of the close cycle.

    i don’t aspire to be better at delivering this message to the customers, but i think with time it will dawn on them that HANA is the only way to go unless the other vendors catch up and overtake SAP in this regard, a tall order IMHO.



    • Hi Greg – thanks for the feedback

      I hope and believe SAP HANA will not just be for big data and big customers but for all.

      The example would be customers using B1 – with HANA.

      • Mark,

        i have nothing against B1 on HANA, but B1 is not ECC where the most performance pains points are at large organizations. also, i can’t imagine B1 spending as much on hardware as HANA seems to need to get all the in-memory benefits it brings. please note that my B1 experience is much slimmer than ECC (R/3), so i’m obviously open to learn more.

        at the moment, competition seems to make the smaller business segment much harder in the US whether looked at from the database, application, usage, or awareness levels.



        • Hi Greg,

          I think the point SAP are making with B1 is that HANA is not just about speed.

          It is about potential landscape simplification, potentially into Cloud based offerings.