On February 3, 2015, SAP launched the next generation SAP Business Suite named SAP S/4 HANA. During the New York launch event, Hasso and Bill spoke elegantly about the digital business network and the boardroom of the future – identifying near-instantaneous information access as a key requirement. I believe they cited 3 seconds as the target time-frame for business users to access information. The information is aggregated for actionable analysis. This requirement makes the current practice of aggregating, improving, and moving data from multiple transactional systems into an analytical system to make a decision obsolete. Hasso used the analogy that the current practice has the time equivalent of traveling from Europe to America by boat over a period of days when jet service requires a few hours. So, SAP S/4 HANA which fully leverages the SAP HANA in-memory platform effectively delivers near instantaneous access to information by eliminating the need for separate analytical systems. Transactional and analytical systems are now one.
(Link to launch event: http://events.sap.com/s4hana/en/session/14013)
Clearly, SAP S/4 HANA will drive down total cost of ownership (TCO) by eliminating the need to support multiple systems and multiple copies of data. The real value is the ability to make decisions in order to reinvent or even create new business models in real-time from the boardroom of the future. Of course, the value of these decisions is directly tied to the quality of the data they are derived from. Certainly, this is not new – “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” What has changed is when and where quality data is emphasized.
Most organizations manage the quality level of data to meet the needs of the system it resides in. They do this knowing that if the data is needed for another system (e.g. a downstream analytical system), the data will be transformed and improved to meet its needs. With the elimination of separate analytics systems, the attention to the quality of data must now be intrinsic to the transactional systems at the point of input. The boardroom of the future requires transactional systems to ensure the data quality level supports not only business transactions, but also instantaneous analysis of information. Interestingly, moving data quality requirements into transactional systems will also simplify your data management and reduce costs. So as you move to SAP S/4 HANA, think about having data management practices around data objects, especially ones paramount to your business (e.g. customers, employees, suppliers, product, services, materials, and enterprise assets). Start with a solid plan around loading only quality data into your newly deployed S/4 HANA system. Leverage this plan to define your ongoing data management rules for maintaining a high data quality level as additional data is created, updated, and ultimately retired.