I have been consulting in the SAP space for more than 20 years now, started as an ABAPer, morphed myself to SAP BW work and have now added Business Objects and HANA to my skill set. I am sure most of my fellow consultants can feel a sea change coming in our world. Will the current SAP consultant be able to adapt and survive this Tsunami of innovation or will he be replaced by a new generation. Only time will tell.
Ten years ago, an SAP consultant was either basis/security, ABAP or Functional(with module specialization). Lot of BW folks came either from the ABAP or functional world. We were implementing and supporting various versions of SAP R/3. Fast forward to today and the next 5 years. SAP customers will be looking for resources to migrate / upgrade systems to SAP Business Suite on HANA. The suite on HANA maybe on premise or on cloud or a hybrid implementation where some parts are on premise and some are on cloud. Consultants will be required to roll out mobile apps and infrastructure. Some customers will need implementation services for a whole new breed of specialized standalone HANA applications.
If you were basis, you installed new systems, performed periodic operational tasks such as database backups, installed patches and upgrades, managed transports, monitored performance and figured out issues when functional and ABAP folks gave up. As an ABAPer you created dataload programs, interfaces, reports and occasionally custom transactions. Functional consultants have the ability to understand the customers business process and make the customizing settings for SAP transactions to provide the functionality for a specific customer.
In the new age basis consultants need to learn concepts and procedures for managing in memory database HANA, integration of on premise and cloud applications, installing and configuring the mobile infrastructure, managing mobile apps, installing and configuring Business Objects tools among other things. HANA promises to simplify customer landscapes by providing current functionality of multiple SAP systems in one HANA systems, but the new world of SAP applications overall is certainly much more complex because it is providing a lot more functionality. Some of the routine and complex tasks of 10 years ago have been greatly simplified and replaced by new complex tasks. A good basis consultant will need to have a thorough understanding of the components of SAP Suite on HANA, how to install and support it on premise or on cloud and make it accessible on mobile devices in addition to desktops.
Functional consultants should be ready for radical changes as well. New technology innovations enable a new breed of business processes. If you are not ready to put aside your current knowledge of business and imagine the possibilities with SAP suite on HANA, a real-time data processing platform then you may be missing the boat. New processes will have embedded analytics in the transaction processing flow. If you were ignoring BW and OLAP because that is just reporting and can be handled after the transactions are working correctly, you should rethink your approach. Take the time now to learn the basics of OLAP and how analytics can help your users in real time when they are selling to the customer or purchasing from a vendor or closing the financial period. SAP’s road map for new business processes that will be developed to take advantage of HANA’s capabilities says it all. New processes are color coded in blue and there is a lot of blue in that presentation. Kudos to SAP for releasing detailed information,
In summary, the “cheese has moved” for SAP consultants. Experienced consultants should be actively adapting. I am an independent consultant and working hard to keep up. I guess that big consulting houses are investing heavily in training their resources. SAP certainly is enabling it by providing free trial systems, training courses and lot of free content on SDN. Are you ready for change?