Today I was invited (thanks @finnern – as an SAP Mentor and bigbyte representative – to participate at the announcement that SAP’s business suite now runs on HANA, a superfast, real-time, in-memory database technology. I attended in New York City and the launch took place in parallel in Frankfurt and Palo Alto.
SAP HANA is data base technology and sometimes also called in-memory computing. I certainly don’t want to (snd can’t) go into details, but it makes things a whole lot faster. So far it was used mainly for BW analytics and CRM and today it was announced that HANA is also available to run the business suite, ERP, the application… whichever you want to call it.
That is very good news, because it means that your transactions can run up to 1000! times faster than they run today. Batch processing will be unnecessary and it opens up very wide windows on ‘what if’ analysis, reporting, production scheduling heuristics and forecasting and S&OP. And you could start the planning run a thousand times a day! Seems crazy? Maybe at first glance but think about the opportunity to keep everything current at all times. Hasso’s original dream or (promise?) – real time is what the R stands for in R/2 – come true.
Hasso Plattner, the man himself, spoke first. “Design thinking is what got us here… and we are now finally dealing with the most important person… the consumer… the user”. I love that. A technology company coming around. The end purpose or final cause in mind. And he admitted, just a little bit, that this was not always the case. But by saying ‘finally’ he sounded to me like that was always on his mind.
In fact I do believe that HANA will enable things for the user that are hard to predict yet. The launch was compared to the release of R/3 twenty years ago and I do not disagree. To have free reign on transaction usage because there is no resource issue anymore will prove to be invaluable to the performance of a materials planner and their daily work.
However, here is a word of caution: to run a falsly configured process much faster produces chaos in a blink of an eye. This stuff is for the companies that have their foundation in order and not for the techno enthusiast who does not know how to keep the inventories down whilst maintaining great service levels.
And at least one of those four poster-customers that were shown today needs a little more groundwork before they run that SAP run company too fast.
Keep your house in order, then speed it up and achieve great results. And keep in mind what Hasso says “…finally we are with the consumer!”