By now, we all have heard of SAP HANA. I would say the majority of people have either read news articles, viewed blogs, seen presentations, and/or consumed some combination of these in reference to SAP’s innovative, in-memory technology. Some of these assets and the content within them are very informative. However, what really grabs our attention are the industry specific use cases of HANA. How will HANA improve my particular business in the short and long term? What scenarios are relevant to me and my business? Which hard benefits have similar companies in my industry achieved? Whether you are an SAP virtual account team member, a customer, or prospect, understanding these use cases and being able to communicate these to your relevant stakeholders are paramount to effectively motivating someone to take an action. This action can take many forms. From re-telling a story or use case to one of your stakeholders, to assisting an executive in preparing the business case presentation to the Board (in order to attain funding or to sign off on the deal), effective communication via storytelling is key. The purpose of this blog is to highlight some industry use cases of HANA for Mill Products companies as well as briefly explain HANA via simple analogies. Finally, I will conclude by offering a challenge to readers.
Regarding enablement content, there are numerous HANA resources at your disposal. There are several different websites, and the SAP team can offer a variety of useful assets and services to help customers understand the path to HANA. From a value standpoint (I’m biased), there are different tools such as the Business Scenario Recommendation (BSR) Report that can give you an idea of the potential value SAP HANA could provide to your business. I also suggest browsing SAP’s Mill Products Specific HANA Use Cases. These will provide you relevant scenarios that are pertinent to your business. Overall Equipment Effectiveness, Customer Profitability Optimization, Fraud Prevention Management, Energy & Environmental Resource Management, and Predictive Maintenance on HANA are just some of the use cases relevant to Mill Products companies.
As for the latter use case—Predictive Equipment Maintenance—large manufacturers that offer to maintain their equipment face the challenge of providing this service in a cost effective manner while ensuring maximum availability of their equipment for their customers. An optimized world would entail having the ability to predict with greater accuracy when maintenance should be performed rather than with traditional time-based or usage-based methods. This optimized state is not easily achievable. It is typically time consuming and challenging to collect the large volumes of data relating to the most recent condition of in-service equipment from different operating systems. Also, having the capability to timely analyze the data, compare this with maintenance data, and then trigger maintenance processes before the equipment fails are not easy feats. However, with SAP HANA, the manufacturer is able to push data from the breaking or other operational systems into the HANA database and perform real-time analysis to easily detect, trigger repair, or schedule maintenance. This allows you tomove away from a “sense and respond” culture to more of a “predict and act” maintenance environment. To those who have experienced a broken down car, this scenario is analogous. How satisfied would you be if you knew exactly when your car was going to stop running? This would save you a great deal of time, money, and potential aggravation. Shifting back to this specific use case, this type of environment can lead to lower maintenance costs, increased customer satisfaction due to increased equipment availability, and higher revenues. If interested in attaining more information pertaining to this use case or others,or if interested in a BSR Report for your business, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you can see in the above use case, HANA is all about speed and leveraging that speed to improve business processes and business outcomes. Many of SAP’s customers today are realizing the business value of speed, as SAP Global Managing Board Member and Head of Development Vishal Sikka explains in his recent blog. However, many questions remain such as, “How is HANA able to do what it does? Why is it so revolutionary?” In effect, HANA is an in-memory, columnar database that is able to sift through and analyze multiple terabytes of data in seconds. This contrasts to traditional, row-based, relational databases that store data on disks. Having the ability to store data in-memory (not at the disk layer) allows HANA to produce results thousands of times faster than ever before. Additionally, HANA is not only just a database, but also a platform. You are able to run real-time analytics, develop applications, etc. Think about the evolution of photography and that of pictures. Years ago, we had to wait until our photos were developed in order to view them. Now, fast forward to present times where we are able to take a picture on our smart phone and instantly view it. And if we don’t like how it came out, we can quickly and easily take another one to satisfy our requirements. This is what HANA does for businesses today.
As mentioned earlier, HANA is not just a place to store data. HANA is a flexible and agile platform. To use an analogy, data storage mechanisms such as Hadoop can be referred to as military tanks. Analytics aficionado, Timo Elliott, explains that these tanks are complex, yet adaptable and can handle any terrain. In contrast, in-memory can be referred to as an airplane. Pricier to purchase, but sleek and efficient and goes hundreds of time faster than the average car. One of the reasons you can drive around so easily today is because we’ve spent decades building a lot of expensive roads. Our information landscapes are the same – a lot of work has gone into enterprise data warehouses and data flows. But as people look at expanding to new territories, they’re realizing that tanks and planes don’t need roads. The drivers of the next generation of “Big Data” information landscapes will be a lot freer to travel where and when they want to go. Fortunately, HANA is that airplane that simplifies landscapes and enables enhanced business processes.
What gives HANA that edge in efficiency and speed? What enables the elimination of certain layers in your infrastructure? Some of this has been touched upon, but another enabling feature of HANA is its columnar nature. Imagine you have a bowl of M&Ms, and you were asked to figure out how many red M&Mswere in the bowl. With a row store database, you would have to pick them out and count them one by one. However, with a columnar database, the red ones are automatically divided onto a separate plate for you to count. And if you needed to do the same thing a few days later, those red M&Ms would still be on the plate (in-memory) versus being back in the bowl (disk layer). This results in tremendous efficiency and time savings. This is HANA.
As you can see, there are various ways to describe HANA. Some may resonate more so than others. I’m sure there are many more analogies and stories that are not considered in this blog. Which are those that you can reiterate to one of your stakeholders? How can you take it one step further and describe HANA and its relevance to your business?
The art of storytelling is crucial to motivating people to act in some way. Some companies (i.e. SAP) are even assembling special teams under a Chief Storyteller. The importance and focus on storytelling is magnified due to its effectiveness in being “memorable” to an audience. Storytelling is everyone’s responsibility. We should all strive to tell more human stories. We need to touch our audiences in more personal ways, and we need to tell stories that people want to hear.
As important storytelling is, it’s imperative that our analogies and stories are pitched flawlessly. Only then will we start to “storysell”. In reality, we are all sales reps in some capacity – whether it is at the workplace or outside of it. As Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson tell us in their phenomenal book, The Challenger Sale, the most effective sales people are those who teach, tailor, and take control. Being able to teach and tailor a message to one of your key stakeholders is one thing, but having that individual internalize it and be able to “sell” that same story to someone else that ultimately leads to an action is the true mark of effective storytelling. This outcome of effective coaching and tailoring represents the Challenger and the move towards storyselling.
I urge everyone to continue to reflect on their daily assignments (and even these industry specific HANA use cases) and relate them to inherent human elements so that someone from outside your professional umbrella could easily reiterate, as it will not only benefit your customers and colleagues, but also individuals such as family and friends who may be disconnected from (yet interested in) the IT world.
I look forward to hearing from you.