Of course the species T.rex (see figure1) became extinct millions of years ago. However at SAP, where we tend to protect our customers investments, TREX – the search and classification engine – is a fundamental part of the SAP NetWeaver technology. But it did sort of die as an option to speed up performance for our SAP CRM scenario High Volume (HV) Customer Segmentation late last year when we announced the availability of SAP HANA for customer segmentation.
Figure1: T.rex at the American Museum of Natural History (June 2012)
This blog is a response to the very valid comment on my earlier blog listing all of the current deployment options including SAP BW + BW-A, SAP BW powered by SAP HANA and the SAP HANA Accelerator. Since many of you might have the same question, I would like to take this as an opportunity to explain why we are no longer positioning TREX as a deployment option for this scenario and at the same time highlighting the many benefits that exist even today when adopting SAP HANA. And there is more to come!
- TREX in essence is a text search engine. In the segmentation scenario, it can’t calculate anything or aggregate e.g. sales orders on the fly. This is a must have in many industries, especially in Retail (POS data), Media (subscriptions), Telco (billing), Utilities (smart meter data) and many others. SAP BW-A and SAP HANA cover this requirement. I will cover this with a detailed example in a separate blog post.
- That also means that these new options provide a much higher degree of flexibility for the business user. With TREX, business and IT had to sit together upfront to decide on the various cuts of data that are needed, load these to TREX and of course, this data was only as up to date as the latest data load. If a marketing user wants a different cut of the data, with TREX that typically is a change request and it might take too long to complete. I had spent many meetings with our customers often receiving the same kind of feedback that TREX was inappropriate for them to run high volume customer segmentation as their business requires a higher degree of flexibility and as they need to respond to market opportunities quickly. It was the primary driver for our investment in SAP CRM EhP2.
- For customers who need SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) data as part of the mix, the newer options CRM (EhP2) + BW + BW-A or even better CRM (EhP2) + SAP BW powered by SAP HANA are the best way forward. Native access to BW data from the CRM UI like we had before in classic segmentation on lower volumes of data. In high volume scenarios and with TREX you had to aggregate this data upfront and then load it to TREX.
- Data Mining and Predictive Analytics meets Segmentation! There is a lot happening inside of SAP towards Data Mining and Predictive (PAL, R, SAP Predictive Analysis) and only HANA will allow you leverage this in the best possible way for customer segmentation. Read this article (German only) or watch this YouTube video that previews SAP Predictive Analysis
- From an admin point of view, the SAP HANA Studio is much easier to use than the TREX Admin Console and it has a number of features that makes life much easier, e.g. it provides a much better transparency on the data it holds.
- In SAP HANA we also provide the BOBJ data services which makes life easier to bring non SAP-CRM data into the mix.
- From a release stand point you could argue that TREX HV Segmentation runs with 7.0 but you need at least EhP1 for the HANA option. However, we are recommending EhP1 for HV Segmentation anyhow even for TREX since we closed some functional gaps from classic to HV segmentation in EhP1 incl. object- and relationship segmentation, follow-up activities to name some.
- When looking at in-memory computing technology at SAP for the customer segmentation scenario, think of TREX as kind of first generation, BW-A second generation and SAP HANA as current generation (see figure 2). The capabilities of SAP HANA compared to TREX are much higher and we benefit from that in the segmentation scenario in many ways.
- Based on that, there is no further investment in TREX and BW-A, all of the development effort flows into SAP HANA, and so far, every service pack of HANA did hold something where we can benefit from, be it the on the fly aggregation of sales orders or anything related to predictive analytics to name a few.
- If you ask me for one drawback? Like all good things in life, it does come with a price tag. But if your organization is moving towards SAP HANA anyhow it becomes more of a TCO discussion and wouldn’t make sense to do something else for this scenario other than leveraging it. And even if your organization is not there yet, there is a limited edition for SAP HANA available and Customer Segmentation is a perfect use case to showcase the potential of SAP HANA. And it is available as a SAP Rapid Deployment Solution which will give you a jump start in terms of implementation time and cost. Click here for a quote!
Hope that helps and stay tuned for more to come leveraging SAP HANA and Predictive Analytics for customer segmentation.
For continued reading, check out these other blogs about high-powered CRM analytics:
- Customer Segmentation in the Big Data Marketing Era
- Customer Segmentation At The Speed of Thought
- Know Your Sales Pipeline – anywhere, anytime!
For more information about Customer Segmentation, check out this ‘Document’ on experiencehana.com
Follow SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions on Twitter: @SAPRDS