This year’s TechEd in Las Vegas focused on how SAP HANA can be used by improve business processes and applications. SAP Operational Process Intelligence had a prominent place in the key note where a live demo showed how logistic company DHL uses the solution in order to handle 300,000 shipments per day in real-time.

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SAP Operational Process Intelligence is an operational decision support solution powered by SAP HANA. It supports an OODA approach:

  • The observe phase intersects with the world outside of the decision maker by listening to what is happening.
  • The orient phase is about understanding the incoming information by putting it in context with previous experiences and knowledge.
  • The decide phase is when decision management techniques are applied to determine the best available solution.
  • The act phase reconnects to the outside world by doing something to change it.

Benefits for line of business users include:

  • Make faster and better-informed operational decisions by providing real-time process information across SAP and non-SAP systems, within and beyond the enterprise
  • Safeguard critical processes by detecting situations in real-time relating to end-to-end business processes
  • Increase process efficiency by empowering process participants to compose and analyze business scenarios instantaneously as needed

Typical business questions can be addressed in real-time using dashboards:

  • In which phase of the process is the process instance?
  • Do the process / process instance / process step fulfill the defined key performance indicators (KPI)?
  • What is the forecast for the process/ process instance?
  • What is the average processing time of the process / process step?
  • Which steps in the process do not fulfill the defined KPIs?

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Ability to handle big processes

What makes SAP Process Operational Intelligence to stand out from other available technologies is that it is a decision support tool geared towards business users that allow monitoring of the end-to-end processes while supporting a huge number of events. Based on a conversation I had with SAP Process Operational Intelligence Solution Management Operational Process Intelligence can handle a peak load of several 10,000 of events per second. This would mean a theoretical throughput of 3,000 billion events per year.

Previous attempts of SAP to approach this topic had limitations in throughput or had a focus on technical monitoring:

  • Event manager: Monitoring on business process level, but with limitations in throughput. As limited based on previous discussions with Event Manager Solution Management I would see around 1 billion events per year. 
  • Solution Manager Business Process Management and Analytics (BPMon): Allows correlating alerts generated by applications to a process definition. It provides forward navigation from the process to the respective monitoring tools and transactions in the back end system. BPMon also provides integration to Business Process Analytics for key figures. In general the target groups are 2nd or 3rd level Application Support on the IT side, IT Basis Support team, and on business department side the business process or functional owners. The possible throughput is far lower than Operational Process Intelligence based on my experience. it does not provide a process instance view.
  • End-to-End monitoring in PI: Limited to technical monitoring. Its high resource consumption typically limited its use to tracing.

Architecture

SAP Process Operational Intelligence allows monitoring SAP and non-SAP systems. It is built natively with SAP HANA.

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The solution provides a holistic integration with SAP and non-SAP systems:

  • Business Suite systems, BPM, and PI interfaces are integrated using the Process Observer. Process Observer allows importing existing BPMs, PI Interfaces, SAP Business Workflows, and Process Definitions.
  • Non SAP systems can be integrated either via SAP Process Integration, SAP Process Orchestration, SLT, or Sybase ESP. Sybase ESP allows integrating non SAP systems and devices such as RFID.
  • Extensions to the process can be directly modeled in SAP Process Operational Intelligence.


During runtime, SAP Operational Process Intelligence correlates the replicated events into process instances and calculates measures and indicators.

The line of business user can monitor and interact with the process using desktop and mobile dashboards.

Takeaways

SAP Operational Process Intelligence is a new decision support software for line of business users:

  • It offers process visibility and operational decision support based on real-time data for line-of-business users.
  • It is a holistic solution able to consume operational process event data from various, heterogeneous data providers.

For more information please see:

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