Technology is all around us, but not always as easy to grasp, let alone understand how it can change our lives.
HANA seems to be such a difficult to grasp technology for many companies. Having lived with the client-server architecture for decades and being used to traditional databases, the challenges of SAP HANA may seem daunting.
Worse even, SAP initially marketed SAP HANA as a really fast database, or at least, that’s how many people understood the message.
So we at our company decided that the time was right to level the playing field and explain organizations what the real added value of the HANA platform means for their company.
Technology is Childsplay
Any marketeer will tell you that location is one of the 3 main pillars to get your message across. To prove the invited crowd how technology is overtaking daily life and how the next generation of employees is playing with science and technology in ways that we never imagined, we organized the event at Technopolis.
We wanted to present the HANA platform to our audience, not from a technological perspective, but from a perspective that a kid would take.
Not about: How does it work?
But about: How can I play with it? What will it do for me?
Dr Juergen Hagedorn from SAP Walldorf was kind enough to do the keynote for our event. He just returned from a holiday, but made a smashing effort to be present at the HANA event and level the playing field. During his keynote, Dr. Hagerdorn lined out the future vision on the SAP HANA platform and explained that HANA is more than just a database. It’s an entire platform on which you can build your enterprise IT systems, both SAP and non-SAP.
User Experience – Powered by HANA
Next up, Yours truly dived deeper into the User Experience, powered by HANA. Everyone already knows what Fiori is, and what it looks like. Many people however, doubt why so many Fiori applications only run on Hana. During the UX session, we demonstrated what the additional computing power of HANA can do to your User Experience.
Remember that User experience is not just about a fancy screen. It’s about bringing data and functionality to the user, in a way that he understands what he’s doing and he can do it intuitively. In that sense, HANA is very important to UX because the extra computing power allows you to aggregate data n the fly, and resent it to the user in a summarized vision. (preferably graphically)
We also demonstrated how the HANA system points the employee to problems that will arise in the future and actively helps the employee in understanding and analyzing the problem. Moreover, the HANA system can simulate possible solutions and propose the most applicable scenario’s to the user. In turn, the employee can visualize each scenario, understand what the solution entails, and eventually choose the most appropriate solution.
More scenarios such as Advanced Search and step-by-step applications followed, which really impressed the audience. It helped them understand how HANA does not just speed up their current processes, but it actually makes the employees more efficient and helps them deliver better quality of work.
Data Analysis – Powered by HANA
Our own data-scientist Kim Verbist demonstrated the audience how SAP HANA, in combination with Lumira, makes every employee a data-scientist. The ease of use that Lumira brings into play, enables every employee to explore data within his/her limits of authorization and build reports on top of it.
No longer do you require lengthy phases of blueprinting, developing, change requests, and testing, but now you can simply organize workshops with the employees and experts side by side. They can work together interactively and at the end of the workshop, have a complete report and storyline ready for productive use.
HANA doesn’t just speed up your report execution, it speeds up the process of building new reports!
Business processes – Enabled by HANA
Our distinguished Business Process veteran Luc De Winter explained the audience how the massive computing power of HANA enabled opportunities for new business processes, which were not possible before due to technical limitations. gone are those limitations now, and the sky is the limit.
Of course, you can just use HANA as a fast database underneath your ERP system, but why linger in the consume phase, when there is so much more to gain by improving your existing processes.
He demonstrated his point by explaining the allocation process in the Retail industry, which typically generates massive amounts of data and takes a nightly batch job to run. On HANA, this process can run online.
If we take it a step further and adapt our processes to the new reality, we can also enable new business processes. Which we did on our own RetailOnHana system called with a process called re-allocation.
This is something which does not exist in SAP-Retail today. The allocation process is always about pushing products from distribution centers to stores, which is difficult enough on a classic environment. With re-allocation, you can analyse which stores are selling a lot of certain products and are running out of stock, meanwhile also identifying other stores that have too much stock and are running behind on their sales. Rather than discounting leftover stock, we can analyse which nearby stores can re-allocate some of their stocks to stores that are showing impressive sales figures. This maximizes your margin and efficiency and was not possible before.
In a last phase, you can even start inventing possibilities. The example showed how we can analyse historical sales data to cross reference popular products, and determine which products are often bought together. the pink handbag and the pink shoes appeared to be a quite popular combination, so using the process of allocation and re-allocation, we can push leftover pink handbags from shop A to shop B, and distribute the pink shoes from the distribution center to shop B and start a new fashion trend!
The road to HANA
By this time, our audience had fully come to grips with HANA as an enabler for their data, processes and people, and were curious to know how they can move to a HANA based architecture, with the least risk and friction as possible.
My colleague and fellow Mentor Tom Cenens described how an organization can start experimenting with the HANA platform, move their data and start exploring and eventually moving their entire ERP system onto HANA. He described the different low cost options are available to start taking your first steps on the journey to HANA and on how to eventually migrate entirely.
Some nice additional features to SAP HANA are the HANA answers, where your employees can actually collaborate around questions coming from the organization itself. These can be business questions, but can just as well be technical questions. This type of built-in collaboration platform helps to ease the transition by combining the available talent and intelligence to overcome hurdles.
Afterwards, we lingered a while longer to engage with the participants and give them more one-on-one advice. We also received a lot of positive feedback. Many participants were fearful that the event would mainly be about marketing HANA, but they were pleasantly surprised to receive a good mixture of Technical aspects, vision and Business cases.
Some participants even came to us and said “Today, you gave us the ammunition we need, to justify an investment on HANA, to our business”.
In the past business would still regard HANA as a technical investment, but with the demos that we gave, we managed to convince the audience that the HANA Platform really is a business solution.
The Belgian HANA event was a tremendous success, made only possible with the help from many people. So I want to give a big shoutout to everyone that participated, behind the scenes and on the stage. All those people that invested evenings and weekends in setting up our own HANA system, setting up the demos, providing data, organizing the location,…
A big Thank You!