In my previous blog post I promised to provide a backstage pass to what SAP Custom Development offers in the SAP HANA space. Just to recap: these offers can be broken down into five categories: Accelerate, Differentiate, Optimize, Extend, and Productize. The series will focus on one category at a time. I will introduce the topic, explain the high level business benefits and dive into a couple of examples.
What all examples in this series of blog posts have in common are:
- They speak about customer specific CORE PROCESSES that require complex calculations.
- They are focused – you guessed right – on BIG DATA, more precisely on very complex and deep structures such as bill of materials or complex sets of rules and checks.
- They do not showcase standalone applications but rather exemplify how important a TIGHT INTEGRATION into operational processes is to bring immediate business value.
For today’s blog post, let’s focus on scenarios out of the accelerate category. It’s all about “outsourcing” time-consuming calculations and complex data selections into SAP HANA to speed up operational processes. SAP HANA is leveraged here as a so called secondary database in a side-by-side scenario with an existing SAP Business Suite or any other system to read mass data and get calculation results.
Business Benefit of SAP HANA Based Accelerators
Before going into the two examples I have, let’s look at how it can benefit a business:
- It’s at In-Memory-Speed: The core application is accelerated by reading big data and complex structures directly from the In-Memory database.
- It’s non-disruptive: As the results of the “outsourced” calculations are provided back to the original core application, the end user profits from unchanged user interfaces but with an improved user experience: Everything works as it worked before – just faster.
- It’s there to stay: As the process data is already replicated into SAP HANA’s in-memory database, it can be leveraged for additional analytics and can provide more new insights for the end user.
Examples of Accelerator Scenarios
My first example stems from the fragrance and flavor industry. The scientists who compose those flavors are highly trained and expensive (well paid) key resources. Every time such a scientist creates a new flavor, he or she needs to ensure compliance of the ingredients and their composition with legal regulations in every country where that composition could be sold. The SAP solution for Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) provides the functionality to run those checks but with increasing demand and increasing complexity of these regulations, this process proved not to be scalable for high volumes of compliance checks. RESULT: Those expensive scientists simply spend too much time running those interactive checks rather than creating new products for the company. SAP Custom Development can help here by building an accelerator that runs these checks in a fraction of the time.
The second example is more tangible as it speaks to the frustration that all of us have: Flight delays and cancellations and how they are handled. In today’s passenger business there’s a great gap between planning and what this industry calls “day of operations optimization”. This leads to a painful level of manual effort to reschedule crews and aircraft and rebook stranded passengers – and causes unnecessary loss of revenues, reputation and safety. One process, “Passenger Recovery” calculates alternative passenger itineraries. His bad cousins “Crew Recovery” and “Aircraft Recovery” deal with a similar issues, but are much more complex. In all cases, complex rules have to be evaluated quickly to find valid options for a short-term horizon. The data for these operations is located in multiple systems. The time-pressure makes airlines prioritize on fast rather than cost effective solutions. SAP Custom Development can help customers through bringing two things to the table with SAP HANA:
- A central data hub that replicates the relevant data from source systems and creates one in-memory source of truth for day of operation processes, allowing all stakeholders (original planners and controllers for aircraft, crew and passengers) to work on the same data and in the same system. This creates instant visibility of the current situation and alerts, regardless of the underlying data source.
- Optimized algorithms inside of SAP HANA allow those stakeholders to get as close as possible to the most cost effective solution for the current business issue.
There are other examples for accelerator scenarios which I cannot explain in detail here. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you would like to discuss the above or other use cases, such as: Acceleration of Web Shop Pricing and Pricelist Generation, Bill of Material Explosion Calculations and other (SAP Business Suite based) core operational processes that would benefit your business if they would run dramatically faster.
I’m also interested in hearing about use cases you might be seeing out there, so please do share your experiences with me, too! For more information on custom solutions built on the SAP HANA platform, read the SAPinsider article by my colleague, Sebastian Speck or take a look at the solution brief.