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Author's profile photo Stefan Wolf

What is SAP S/4HANA for Utilities and is it ready for me?

Over the last couple of years SAP has continued to innovate on the SAP HANA Platform. From the first step in the early days as an in-memory platform it began to power the SAP Business Warehouse as the first suite application. The move from conventional database to SAP HANA for BW allowed for significant reduction in size of the necessary storage and highly improved user experience and system performance. It is not uncommon to need only 1/20th of the storage size when moving to SAP BW powered by HANA. The next step was to enable the rest of the suite applications like CRM, ERP, etc. to run on HANA. The SAP Business Suite on HANA provided as well for 4-6 times reduction in database size and accelerated many transactions.

Road to S4HANA.jpg

In 2013 together with the suite applications also the Utilities Industry solutions (Customer Service and Sales Management  and Demand Side Management on SAP CRM and Meter to Cash on SAP ERP) became available on SAP HANA. With that it was possible to run all major SAP solutions relevant for a utility on the SAP HANA platform, reduce complexity and size, and improve response times for many scenarios, and of course provide new possibilities like error tolerant type-ahead search which took advantage of the significant faster response time.

One Field Search.jpg

So far already a very good story with a number of utilities and hundreds of other SAP customers in implementation or live.

But SAP did not stop there, actually, this was only the prelude.

SAP provided in 2014  the first major application specifically designed with SAP HANA in mind, SAP Simple Finance powered by SAP HANA. That solution showed that it was indeed possible to not only accelerate some transactions and use cases but rather simplify the complete business application and still provide the necessary functionality. Good enough for SAP itself to run their own corporate finance on the brand new solution achieving significant business improvements like 10 times faster automated revenue accruals, real time access to new business scenarios based on real sales data instead of waiting 2h, 3.5 x faster balance sheet and P&L and more.

But not only the architecture was new, also the user interface was renewed using modern UI5 technology to support the various different user roles.

S4HANA New UI.jpg

With this first, new application and the over the years improved SAP HANA platform, SAP launched in February of 2015 the next generation of business suites, SAP S/4HANA. The SAP S/4HANA on-premise edition supports not only the new Simple Finance solution but also the rest of the business scenarios supported by the well-known SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. This edition supports as well the existing industry specific functions for utilities with only very few exceptions. Therefore it is already today possible for most utilities to utilize S/4HANA and enjoy the above mentioned benefits!

While Simple Finance was the first new application, others will follow. Currently SAP is working hard to provide the next major application, Simple Logistics, on this platform by the end of this year. At that time also the utilities specific components are to be released on that new platform allowing customers who use the industry functions to continue to use those while benefiting from Simple Logistics.

This first step to run the meter-to-cash scenarios on the new S/4HANA platform is focused on enabling the existing industry functions in the new suite. The plan is continue to innovate on this exciting platform to provide improved and new business processes, next generation user experiences for the different user roles as well as integrating more partner solutions.

That means SAP already provides a stable platform for utilities who look for ERP and other business suite applications including the industry specific functions. And new innovations are already in the works and others planned to further increase the value.

S4HANA for Utilities Roadmap.jpg

Get more information here.

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      Author's profile photo Paul Tomlinson
      Paul Tomlinson

      I always found in strange that SAP never optimised ISU for HANA and reading the above, it still hasn't been.  When billing thousands / millions of customers, doing lots of number / data crunching, you would think it is the ideal scenario for HANA.

      Author's profile photo Stefan Wolf
      Stefan Wolf
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Paul!

      You are correct, most certainly are the processes at any given utility prime examples where the capabilities HANA provides can be of great help! And we did provide a number of enhancement in our Utilities solution over that last 2 years which specifically put capabilities in HANA to good use. Look at the one-field search or the improved settlement process to name just 2.

      For the sheer throughput to handle 10, 20, 30 or more million of customers to process metering details whether from conventional or smart meters, billing, invoicing, payment and collections, our current solution available today is perfectly able to do so. That is proven by those of our customers who have that large of a customer base and are live for many years and entrust these critical process more often than not to SAP. Actually I am not even sure there is any other of the shelf solution for the meter to cash process available which has that many large and very large utilities.

      Surely also that can be improved and there are also many other innovations for Utilities we want and can build on HANA. Yet our first priority is to make sure our solution runs flawless on the new suite, that is our current objective. Also very important is the improved user experience using Fiori capabilities.

      Other industry specific innovations like a customer energy analytics solution we are investigating and prioritizing together with our customers to help us stay focused on what is important to them.

      So we want to further optimize our solution using HANA capabilities and to provide further simplification to the life of our existing and new customers as their business is already complicated enough. And we will work with our customers to establish the right priorities and would also appreciate input you can provide as to what you see utilities requiring most.

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Monis Shakeel
      Monis Shakeel

      There doesn't seem to be any visible or palpable change in the way transactions are run from a standard viewpoint.

      I have not been able to garner why customers should be going for this instead of the previous solutions.

      Would love to explore more.

      Author's profile photo David Nguyen
      David Nguyen

      Hi Stefan, great article!

      Do you happen to know what IS-U functional roles that I can assign to consultants?