I am a close observer of SAP’s cloud activities / strategy. I read every related forum post on SCN and read every SCN blog / content that concerns this platform. This summer I have been looking for examples of adoption of its PaaS – HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) – especially demonstrations of how SAP and the ecosystem use the platform to meet real business requirements – in particular those related to specific industries.
Over the summer, I saw two examples of such applications:
Genpact to leverage SAP Solution for insurance in cloud
Genpact has become one of the first SAP partners to optimize its business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions for the SAP Business All-in-One for Insurance solution using SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
By optimizing the solution design for SAP HANA Cloud Platform, Genpact can help insurers improve their visibility into policy, claims and analytics processes and drive efficiencies and visibility through analytics. Genpact leverages advanced operational practices and flexible SAP cloud-based applications to provide insurance companies with fast-deployed, technology-driven operations.
This is a great example of a partner exploiting HCP to create industry-specific solution (in this case, insurance). It is also interesting to note the association with All-in-One – although I don’t know the exact architecture of Genpact’s solution – I don’t ever recall seeing another solution that bridges both offers. The focus in such hybrid integrations is usually on larger Business Suite environments. All-in-One focuses on the SME market – a segment that is largely ignored by many Cloud marketing efforts from SAP.
SAP and Tru-ID Explore Solutions to Help Identify Fraud in the Food Supply Chain
“Most global supply chain visibility solutions in the food industry ensure strict processes and track packaging, but knowing what species are inside the package is challenging because many species can be hard to identify after processing
Integrating DNA-based verification testing and product authenticity certification into supply chain solutions from SAP will help companies identify the source of adulteration among their suppliers. Using SAP HANA Cloud Platform, companies will be able to require suppliers to share independently audited tests.
This would give companies better visibility into the authenticity of the foods provided by their supply chain. [SOURCE]
This is another example of a partner (an additional plus point is that Tru-ID is also part of SAP’s Start-up program) creating an industry app (this time, the food industry) on HCP. This solution reminds me a little bit of another Cloud offering from SAP “Product Safety Management” that fulfills a similar function for the tracking of hazardous materials.
Other platforms are moving aggressively into this space (the Industry Cloud from China Information Technology, Saleforce, GE and its Predix platform) and I would hope that SAP’s efforts in this area would also focus on HCP’s intrinsic strengths. Yet, it appears that the recently announced Industry Cloud organization has a different technological focus.
These industry cloud solutions are anticipated to offer customers specialized, next-generation business processes and intuitive interfaces that can be easily and quickly deployed across a public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructure, depending on which model best serves the customer’s needs. These industry cloud solutions are intended to run on SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA via SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, a fully managed, subscription-based cloud service used by customers today to run mission-critical SAP applications and manage vast amounts of Big Data all on one real-time business platform. [SOURCE]
The HANA Enterprise Cloud is a hosted solution with a fundamentally different philosophy than that of the HCP. The absence of cloud-based HCP-related industry success stories demonstrate this HEC-centricity still predominates for such ecosystem-based industry applications. Yes, I know there are other existing industry-related HCP-based application created by partners (for example, T-Systems and Hamburg Port Authority) but the number of such stories is unfortunately still relatively limited.
User-developed industry cloud applications are starting to emerge — and they could remake the competitive landscape. A pharmaceutical company building cloud applications that are widely adopted by its peers and by users could end up dominating parts of its market. Application vendors know they may find themselves competing with their leading customers and are starting to work closely with industry leaders on “co-innovation.”
Developing vertical applications in-house is a luxury large companies can afford. But for smaller ones with limited development dollars, the best option may be pooling resources with peers. Companies can either fund community development carried out by a third party — the cloud application vendor or one of its partners — with the aim of selling the products themselves. Or they can band together with their own partners or even competitors.
With such disruptive potential possibilities, you might expect all examples of such partner-created HCP-based applications to be promoted ruthlessly / extensively. Yet the stories mentioned above weren’t pushed in the usual social media channels very much. I found the Genpact story based on a Google Alert rather than an official press release. The Tru-ID story was pushed in the form of an official press release but with a Big Data spin rather than HCP. Yes – I know that HCP should provide the technological foundation of such solutions and thus remain the background but opportunities are being lost to create momentum within the partner environment.
HCP’s target audience: Is a change necessary?
Recently, I was part of a Twitter conversation with members of the CloudFoundry ecosystem about ISVs and PaaS adoption where we were debating whether PaaS should focus on ISVs or internal developers creating custom applications. I kept thinking about HCP and its target audience.
Perhaps – its current target audience is just too large / varied. Although I would love to see HCP be the foundation for all possible scenarios – ranging from IoT to industry to Big Data to start-ups – it could be that a tighter focus is necessary.
One of the most important goals of the platform must be to help move existing OnPremise customers to the cloud. This transition will likely be in the form of a hybrid cloud mixing a combination of both cloud and OnPremise assets. The Cloud Connector and its tight integration in the platform is the best example of functionality that performs this role. In the currently challenging PaaS market, this tighter focus might be an advantageous decision.
Another area in which HCP is starting to get traction is in providing extensions to SuccessFactors (one example is Accenture HR Audit and Compliance as-a-service application that extends SuccessFactors Employee Central). Inasmuch as much of SAP’s cloud revenue comes from SuccessFactors and Ariba, perhaps the platform should also focus its limited resources on such use cases. This emphasis would allow customers that purchase other SAP cloud offers to better utilize such resources.
A greater emphasis on these two scenarios supporting such hybrid scenarios and extensions means that HCP is less focused on those more innovative areas (such as IoT) that have a greater long term impact but are less important to the immediate concerns of customers just starting on the journey to cloud. I would love to see a multitude of ecosystem-created industry apps running on HCP – technically, the platform could easily support such solutions – yet, in the short term, a tighter focus on other scenarios might provide a better chance for success in the PaaS marketplace.