This is the third part following A journey into “The in-memory revolution by Hasso Plattner and Bernd Leukert” – Part 2

Part 2 – S/4 HANA, the agile ERP



Part 3 – Applying HANA to resolve real-world issues

CIO -So what’s a customer to do?

Me – To help you figure that out, SAP is practicing the Design Thinking Method. It’s a methodology developed at Stanford University and at the HPI School of Design Thinking. It’s an iterative and team-based approach designed to foster creativity by focusing on end users’ needs in order to identify problems, find solutions and drive creative innovation.

CIO – How does that work?

Me – We start by getting into a room a maximum of stakeholders and users of a business process. We identify issues with users and let them discuss what they need to improve their work. Observe their interactions in order to understand why users behave in a certain way. We then create a “point of view” synthesis of all the ideas hashed out during the workshop. We use it to build a prototype that we submit to constant feedback through testing. Such co-innovation workshops can unlock extremely interesting ideas.

CIO -Such as?

Me -For example, SAP developed with the German National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg a tool called Medical Research Insights (MRI).  To be efficient and pertinent when performing clinical trials, doctors needed a tool that could gather, analyze and sort in real time a huge amount of structured and unstructured data pertaining to single patients and cohorts of patients. Previously, such research had to be done by hand browsing through archives spread over many different systems. We could come up with the final design by putting together researchers, physicians, and healthcare professionals in the same room, and confront their respective needs. Now HANA can perform and automate all those tasks and present them to doctors in a concise and understandable way. This is a big step toward personalized medicine.

CIO – Indeed we’re far from the ERP. This is impressive.

Me – There is no domain where HANA cannot bring benefits. For example, Internet of Things scenarios can be found everywhere: logistics, social network analysis, marketing, omni-channel retail, natural disaster risk analysis, fraud management, smart farming, industry 4.0, predictive maintenance, to name a few.

All those projects have a common point though: introducing agility in complex processes, thanks to the ability to deal in real-time with huge quantities of system and/or sensor data, processing and analyzing them to give to users unprecedented insights into the workings of the real world.

Let’s review together some of those solutions developed recently with HANA. Let’s consider how a typical boardroom meeting takes place today and how it could be greatly improved. Generally, the speed, or lack of speed, of software applications determines how organized business processes are. You, as CIO, if you could back up your assumptions with data, see trends hidden within standard reports, dig deeper into the data, do you think you could be managing more effectively?

CIO- Undoubtedly. Boardroom discussions require instant insights. This is not something we have now. We’re working on reports, spreadsheets and dashboards prepared for us that reflect the current situation but that are static. Some of them run for hundreds of pages.

Me – That mustn’t help when making quick decisions…

CIO- We certainly have to rely on experience and gut decision.

Me – What if gut decisions could be replaced by informed data-based decisions? The underlying SAP HANA platform is at the core of enabling the new boardroom experience. Every number and graph we can see is directly calculated off transactional data. Therefore, within seconds we are always looking at the latest numbers. The line item based reporting also enables more freedom for exploration and simulations. And all this should actually be available in H1 2016.

CIO- That’s definitely worth looking into! Please keep me posted on this release.

Me- To get back to your earlier question, let me go over some meaningful examples of how businesses such as yours have used and leveraged the power of HANA to improve their businesses:

1- Speed has become essential for end user/customer interactions. Underlying applications have to work at a speed matching human expectations. The new SAP User Interface (UI), known as SAP Fiori, is more attractive but it was also redeveloped to take advantage of the radically different response time pattern of the underlying HANA system. It has applications in omni-channel retailing, where based on the insights generated through predictive analysis of customers’ shopping history and text analysis of their social network activities, a sales associate can offer each customer a personalized shopping experience.

2- Celonis Process Mining is based on HANA offering a new approach to process analysis. It enables users to see how their processes are actually executed and where inefficiencies and deviations from the standard are occurring.

3- SAP Fraud Management is a cross-industry application to analyze, detect and investigate irregularities and thus prevent, in real time, fraud in big data environments. HANA brings the platform for fast detection of fraud as it occurs.

4- Empowering logistics hubs: supply chains must accommodate both the increasing number of participants as well as constantly expending product portfolios. This puts supply chains under pressure, and requires a high degree of flexibility to allow them to cope with the pace of the market.

For example, the operators at the Hamburg harbour manage 10000 ships and more than 9 million containers per year as well as 40000 trucks every day, and this in a physically constrained harbor area that cannot be expanded.

The number of containers is expected to increase to 25 million in the next 10 years. The volume of port traffic is expected to increase accordingly, but this needs to be achieved without any increase in the space available.  The solution to this challenge is Smart Port Logistics (SPL), a joint project between SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) and the Telematic One Traffic Management System. SAP Connected Logistics, based on SAP HANA Cloud, integrates all relevant information from multiple data sources in order to optimize the routes of all actors, and react in real time to traffic disruptions.

5- Remote service and predictive maintenance: in 2015 the Internet of Things (IOT) already consists of over 25 billion connected devices with a rising trend of 50 billion by 2020. Fast services are required to handle large amounts of sensor data received, notify technicians, and predict on-site maintenance demands. For example, at one of our customer’s manufacturing fast turning machines,  each machine sends up to 120 sensors values each second.

Engineers are able to define rules for issue detection using the incoming sensor data and execute these rules in real time.

Predictive maintenance algorithm is able to reveal knowledge such as specific machines that require diagnostics.

CIO- Thanks for this. It is very useful to help me wrap my head around the limitless potential of this new technology.

Me- So in conclusion, I’d like to leave you with these thoughts:

Major challenges and opportunities lie ahead for organizations: cloud, big data, IOT, omni-channel, business networks, processes optimization. To address all the aforementioned challenges, the HANA platform is built as a universal data hub.

With S/4 HANA, SAP offers its customers a non-disruptive way to profit from the disruptive innovations of the HANA technology, be it on premise or in the cloud.

Then HANA can integrate structured ERP data with external data sources such as: sensor data from smart devices in IOT; data from social networks and the internet; data from the SAP Cloud Business Network. On top of this integration, HANA provides built-in algorithms to analyze this data on the highest level of granularity.

With the power of HANA, SAP enables companies to not only react to business developments, but also intelligently analyze market trends in order to drive forward their business.

CIO- In other words, the agile ERP.

Me- I couldn’t have said better. 🙂

The end.

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