SAP has taken a gutsy approach to modernizing the entire code base of their 30+ year old ERP. This is bringing an unprecedented wave of changes in the SAP landscape. For instance, in the last few months, Simple Logistics was split up into Simple Supply Chain, HR, etc. Then the “Simple” term has been dropped summarily and the new name for Suite on HANA’s successor is S/4 HANA Enterprise Management. I think the following graphic best describes what SAP is up to. The way forward seems to be to merge SAP add-on solutions such as Ariba and CRM into the new ERP core called S/4 Enterprise Management.
Advantages for the customer
- Revamped business processes such as major simplifications in Finance, Materials Resource Planning (MRP), Inventory Management, Capacity Planning, Sales & Distribution, and Procurement.
- Faster / guided configuration to aid agile deployments.
- Seamless integration for Ariba, BPC and other SAP platforms.
- Reporting/BW with a wild number of flexible options.
- Built in support for Big Data using Spark on Hadoop, Hive or SybaseIQ.
- Finally all the benefits of HANA’s in-memory system are being realized. All of this is necessary to keep SAP relevant in the age of disruption.
The Dark Side
The disadvantage of this is that, as SAP continues to rapidly innovate, the risk is high of finding yourself on the wrong side of the technology march. For example, on my current S/4 HANA 1511 project, we deployed Fiori on MS SQL Server. Then in December 2015, SAP pulled support for all non-SAP databases. This was an evil move and it forced us to re-implement all the apps, when the Fiori machine had to be re-built on MaxDB. SAP’s approach resembles Google’s to keeping apps in beta such as Gmail. Thus allowing the company to continuously innovate.
In conclusion, I am surprised how much our customers’ appetite for risk has changed. Quite a few are bravely accepting the changes that SAP is bringing forth. Perhaps it’s the age old debate whether IT is a key enabler of business or just supports it.