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Background

AgilityWorks have been an SAP consulting partner for over nine years in the technology arena. We’ve helped numerous customers transform into agile enterprises by redefining customer engagement models and associated operating models. We enable this through creative application of integrated mobile, big data and cloud solutions from SAP.

This year AgilityWorks signed up to join the SAP Platform Application Development Cooperation Agreement (PADCA) program and became the 1000th partner – we chose to focus our attentions on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (SAP HCP), enabling us to deliver stand alone and extension applications for SAP and non-SAP customers alike.

As our journey progresses, the team is increasingly excited about how the platform is constantly growing and being enhanced. New features and services are appearing regularly that expand the platform’s capabilities, as well as continuous improvements of the existing feature set. It really showcases many of the benefits of a Cloud approach.

We’ve already been involved with the SAP beta program for HANA Operational Process Intelligence Services – allowing actions and decisions to be made in real time – and have developed prototypes around IoT, Fiori and mobility to name a few. We also have a number of active customer engagements driving more SAP HCP scenarios, especially in the SAP Cloud for Customer space, where many customers are talking to us about extending the standard solution using SAP HCP.

Our ambitions with SAP HCP

Our main goal is to develop applications around some of the core use cases for SAP HCP, such as extending SAP cloud and on-premise applications, and delivering brand new stand-alone applications.

One of our first journeys is around a companion application for SAP Cloud for Customer, where a client has multiple quotation systems and SAP HCP is used as the Quote Normalisation tool, processing quotes from the various systems.  This then updates SAP Cloud for Customer and keeps the record of what’s happened for each customer interaction. Although this seems an integration problem and not a solution that lends itself to a platform, essentially the problem is around visibility and co-ordination, not purely integration.

The users need a tool that allows any system to upload a quote, which is then normalised so that a central administration function can approve it before releasing into the back office system (currently SAP Cloud for Customer but we foresee this expanding as we make use of further features in SAP HCP). Although not productionised yet and still in the embryonic stages, it seems that the use case stands up and the platform lends itself to the problem.

Most importantly, the tools available in SAP HCP are enabling a very effective and efficient agile, distributed design and development approach that would have been more difficult with traditional on-premise technology alone.  We have been able to quickly prototype ideas and have working solutions delivered in short sprints, enabling us to tailor and refine the solution as we progress.

The art of the possible

A pilot application we cut our teeth on to gain access and knowledge of the SAP HCP system was to integrate sensor data from a customer’s premises with Operational Process Intelligence Services, and launch workflows when a certain threshold (defined by a business rule) is reached.

For those of you hearing the term “Operational Process Intelligence Services” for the first time, this is a cloud solution to rapidly develop and deliver smart process apps on SAP HANA Platform. Such process apps support business activities that are people-centric, highly variable, loosely structured and subject to frequent changes.

These services encompass the following architectural components:

  • Process Intelligence & Process Mining
  • Process Management
  • Rules Management

The key ingredients of this IoT-SPS Solution:

  • Collaborative Business Processes
  • Responsive and Mobile Friendly User Screens
  • Analytics/Reporting
  • Business Rules
  • Integration with On Premise Systems (if required)

All the above Ingredients are part of the SAP HANA Platform which leverages Operational Process Intelligence Services – the flexibility of SAP HANA to activate and use different services across the platform as building blocks for overall solutions was invaluable in this scenario.

The demo use case was around the agricultural industry – as the business owner within this industry it is paramount for my business to achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhance crop productivity
  • Minimise the use of pesticides/chemicals based on (near) real time statistics
    • Reduce/save water costs by enabling distribution of water to areas where its most needed
    • Gain a unified view on crop health
    • Become a brand ambassador for sustainable agriculture

The solution was architectured around SAP HCP for the following key benefits:

  • Governance in the cloud
  • Business enablement to take actions proactively
  • Rule driven validations
  • Big data volumes
  • Responsive HTML5 user interface

High Level Architecture

HCP Arch.png

Conclusion

Today, businesses are continually looking to lower their TCO in the IT domain, this is especially true in consumer facing verticals were change is constant and margins are low. Companies are looking to increasingly adopt a bi-model IT environment as they try and keep up with business demands and one area where systems of innovation are landing is in cloud technologies. Cloud systems offer businesses the ability to innovate and react to business requirements quickly and with a relatively low entry cost compared to more tradition on-premise solutions.

SAP HANA Cloud Platform brings limitless possibilities for innovative and secure applications that can be built quickly and deployed instantly – we have certainly experience the ease and speed when working on our internal pilots and customer SAP Cloud for Customer extension application.  For these reasons, we passionately recommend building apps on SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

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