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Thứ Ba, 19 tháng 11, 2013

SAP HANA customer video review – analyzing outcomes - Diginomica

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| On November 19, 2013

Customer views always trump the sweet confections of marketing departments. There’s nothing quite like getting a customer in front of a video camera and peppering them with questions about outcomes.

Den and I shot two HANA customer videos at SAP TechEd Las Vegas that brought out maturing HANA use cases. We’ve put HANA customers on video for a couple of years now, but these latest shoots indicate a significant step forward in the most important category of all: genuine value realization. Why? I’ll explain as we go.

EMC’s HANA story – solving pain points and upskilling lessons

First up, we have EMC (see video embed above). Mike Harding, IT SAP HANA Architect at EMC, shares the results of their first HANA project, an operational data mart. The goal of the project? Provide real-time capabilities and analytics to folks on the manufacturing floor.

The results? Reports that used to take two hours to process run in four minutes. Now, most readers know that I get impatient with ‘HANA-is-fast’ talk. But in this case, improved reporting speeds solved a big paint point for EMC. Harding explains:

In our case, the pain point we had was in determining what sales orders came in that then needed to be turned into product to be shipped. When we weren’t able to deliver that within a reasonable amount of time, obviously that was causing pain on the business.

Harding wasn’t just opining from the comfort of his cubicle. From his talks with workers on the shop floor, he told me about the ‘dirty looks’ he used to get during peak shipping periods when processing times were sluggish. Nothing like frustrated users to spur a project forward.

EMC is also getting better at upskilling their internal teams for HANA. The key? Yes, Oracle err, I mean SQL – developers. Harding:

EMC has been an Oracle customer for a long time. I had a lot of really good Oracle developers who had then been retrained on ABAP and were awfully anxious to start doing SQL scripting again. We were able to leverage those skills and to really take advantage of injecting your HANA models with SQL scripts. It took us a while to figure out how we should be best managing that space, but that’s been a key benefit for us. It’s something I would highly recommend other customers do when they start to look at their HANA roadmap and journey.

Den Howlett produces our videos in epic work binges. I usually don’t hear from him until they are up. But in this case, the EMC video struck Den enough to forward this comment along:

It is interesting to see that EMC is re-using Oracle SQL skills to develop scripts needed for their implementation. A significant majority of SAP customers are on Oracle DB so already have those all important SQL skills, even where they’ve been reskilled for SAP’s ABAP. HANA therefore allows customers to gain quick wins without onerous training costs. That’s neat.

Synopsys – BW on HANA and the modernization of reporting

Next up: Hasmukh Ranjan, VP of IT for semi-conductor chip designer Synopsys. Ranjan shared the insights from the Synopsys BW on HANA project:

Ranjan started out the video by describing the 15 year old process of handling user reporting via IT projects as ‘archaic.’ In his world, users want self-service reporting on the fly, and they want it at ‘the time of real need’. So their BW on HANA project had two main motivators: real-time reporting, and a better reporting experience for business users. As Ranjan put it:

This concept has been in place for 15 years, (aggregating) data so business can use it. As things change, as the mobility platform takes precedence, as people work in real-time around the world, you need to have a system and that is self-service, independent and real time.

The Synopsys BW on HANA project was completed in three months. The core expectation, improved reporting performance, was achieved. In the process, Ranjan’s team cleaned out their existing reports, purging about half of the 7,000 in the system.

Unlike the early BW on HANA customers I talked with, this was not a parallel BW on HANA system, but the analytical system of record. Ranjan admitted he was nervous about moving BW to a new database, but he managed the concerns the way the smart IT departments do: through rigorous testing.

How Synopsys measures HANA results

During the second half of the video, Ranjan took me through a very interesting approach to measuring HANA results. His team measures HANA success by three criteria:

1. Practical/measurable – reducing reporting times, real-time results (the easiest metric)

2. User experience – do users see the benefit? (not as easy to measure but can be done via surveys, etc)

3. Transformative – how can the speed of reporting and ease of predictive capabilities lead tn new business use cases and market growth (this is the toughest of the three, and the one that Synopsys is still working through and discovering).

Ranjan explained that winning users over to BW on HANA was a process. Initially, they were skeptical about reports running ten times faster; the opportunities such speed presented were not immediately obvious. And, true to form, user satisfaction did vary based on when users were surveyed and the types of tasks they were performing. Still, the end result on the user experience side was unquestionably positive: ‘Since this was such a measured change in their usage of the system, we got glowing feedback. ‘

Ranjan’s comments on the journey to transformational business value (the third value criteria) were illuminating:

How all this real-time data is helping our business grow – that is more tedious (to prove). It’s a longer process for people to realize, ‘Oh, because of this (speed), we are able to do this now.’ You’re at a customer site, and you’re trying to pull some reports, and now you can have them on your fingertips now – that not translate into added revenue at that particular instance directly, but the aggregation of all those experiences do help our field team make a better decision. That’s an ongoing process.

Final analysis

I’ve wary of holding too tightly to flawed narratives, and that includes my own. Talking to customers like EMC and Synopsys about how improved HANA speed has led to better business outcomes is a wake up call that speed can be a factor in today’s HANA use cases. But in the future, I expect speed to become a commodity. The real value will come in industry-nuanced applications, honed in the field. That’s why the HANA-as-platform play is so important.

Looking ahead, EMC has a BPC on HANA project on deck, then BW on HANA. For Synopsys, they are looking at CRM on HANA, BPC on HANA, and down the road, ERP on HANA could also be considered. When I step back from these videos, I see maturing HANA use cases that have the following dimensions:

  • customers are (wisely) starting with well-defined and out-of-the box, BW on HANA type use cases

  • confidence in HANA as the analytics database-of-record is increasing (less parallel HANA systems)

  • outcomes are being measured in smarter ways, including speed/performance but also user experience and business outcomes

  • internal upskilling of SQL talent and putting HANA projects through trusted testing processes is leading to better HANA projects

That said, there is still not enough customer knowledge of the potential of the apps from the SAP startup program to jump start high-value industry and big data HANA use cases. ERP on HANA remains in a tire-kicking phase for most customers; trusting your transactional system to a (comparatively) new database is another matter entirely from moving analytics onto HANA.

The HANA-as-platform message is still new to many customers, and the promising aspects of the HANA Cloud Platform will need further clarification in SAP’s overall cloud messaging, which is a challenge unto itself.

Still, I was struck by the maturity of these live-in-production examples. I am self-regulated from using the phrase ‘game-changing,’ but as customers move along the three ‘value criteria’ outlined by Synopsys, transformative use cases beyond what we have envisioned to date should emerge.

Disclosure: SAP is a diginomica premier partner, and paid for the bulk of my expenses to attend SAP TechEd Las Vegas, where these videos were filmed. We filmed and produced these videos at our own cost, but could not have done so without the exceptional logistical support of the SAP blogger relations team.

Jon Reed has been intimately involved in enterprise communities since 1995, including time spent building ERP recruiting and training firms. These days, Reed is a (cough) blogger/analyst and also counsels vendors and startups on go-to-market strategy. He is an SAP Mentor, Enterprise Irregular, and video content producer.

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