Recently, I sat down with two SAP HANA evangelists – Mike Lampa, Global Practice Lead for Dell Services Business Intelligence practice and Jeffrey Word, Vice President of Product Strategy at SAP – to discuss how organizations can harness the power of in memory databases and analytics with joint solutions from Dell and SAP.
This is part three of our interview. We’re talking about building the business case for an SAP HANA installation or migration. To learn more about the Dell and SAP HANA story, check out part one and part two of our interview.
What is the most compelling SAP HANA selling point for a potential user?
SAP HANA can change the way you think about how you run your business both as IT department and as a functional business owner.
As technologists, we’ve been so conditioned to tell users that they can’t really have real time analytics because it’s too expensive to make it a realistic option. Now, I can say to business owners “imagine if you had the ability to be very proactive and not have to wait for your predictive analytics to come out on a weekly or monthly basis.” We’re getting to where can make recommendations at the same time you’re making business decisions. What business functions in your enterprise could benefit from that?
Database marketing guys, technical marketing teams, and folks in supply chain or manufacturing line operations are trying to figure out how to get the best performance through analysis, root cause analysis, reducing downtime, etc. These are the guys that are going to be excited about SAP HANA.
The one thing that tips the scale for someone to do a SAP HANA project occurs the second that business users – usually leaders of a business division or group – see SAP HANA’s potential to do something that is technically impossible or cost prohibitive today. They see the ability to differentiate themselves from their competition; they will be able to offer something more to customers, to increase revenues.
The geeks get really excited, too, because traditional databases are 30-40 years old, and SAP HANA is the shiny new kid on the block. The geeks are enamored by something that’s so new and different and powerful. It blows their minds.
But what seals the deal every time is when business users find out that SAP HANA can allow them to do something that is currently impossible, When you tell users that a report that takes 48 hours to run in a batch job today can be delivered at any time within a couple of seconds, it’s hard for them to believe. But when we show them, they lose their minds.
How about a few real world examples?
At one company, they had an SAP sales report that took 45 minutes to run. They called it the “lunchtime report” because they ran it every day during lunch hour. The IT group didn’t tell the business users that they were changing anything, but over a weekend, IT swapped out the original database for SAP HANA. The following Monday, the users logged into their SAP application as usual and entered their regular transaction code. A user kicked off the report and got up to go have lunch. As he started to get out of his chair, the report results popped up on the screen. He thought the system was broken, and called IT, but the guys on the helpline said “No. It’s not broken – it’s faster. Check the answer.”
Today, if you’re doing customer quotes, the best you can do is to look at your product catalog. You may know whether your customer is in a “diamond”, “gold” or “silver” tier to apply appropriate discounts. But what if you were able to do so much more? What if you knew that this customer just became a very key influencer out on a social network? That information will create huge gains in organizational performance. With SAP HANA, we can now provide faster access to information as well as access to a richer set of decisioning contexts.
Let’s take Marriott as an example. Marriott spent millions of dollars building an application to dynamically decide the room rate to charge individuals at a specific property based on availability and other conditions. But it’s not fast. It takes a while for it to run. They spent billions of dollars on something like that with traditional database technology. SAP HANA is designed to enable these kinds of solutions – without the heavy investment in custom programming and integration.
For folks considering an SAP HANA implementation, can you share what makes the Dell end-to-end SAP HANA solution unique?
From a hardware perspective, the Dell solution includes systems management tools that are optimized for SAP HANA. This makes the entire solution easier to manage. DBAs won’t be spending 50% of their time on performance tuning, and we’ve gone a step further to make the remaining 50% of management activities easier using Dell’s proprietary systems management software.
On the consulting side, Dell is focused on enabling much more dynamic “transactional level OLAP” – exploring the added value of real-time analytics for routine decision-making. We’re constantly looking for business problems that have traditionally been a problem – primarily because or technology constraints – and we’re enabling those functions with SAP HANA.
Dell Services is also very strong across industry verticals. In our education vertical, we've invested very heavily to build an application for higher education that is all on SAP HANA technology and includes embedded analytics. For larger universities, a 1% improvement in student retention equates to roughly $1 million in revenue. We've built an application that predicts the likelihood that a student is approaching a dropout situation before the student or administrator even realizes it. This allows the university to proactively resolve any issues.
We’re going after the same types of opportunities with Healthcare & Life Sciences. We’re working with institutional research organizations that are doing research across multiple verticals, including manufacturing, retail and resource management. In every one of these business areas, 1 or 2 basis points of improvement equates to millions of dollars to the bottom line.
Learn more about Dell’s SAP HANA solution at www.dell.com/HANA.
Mike Lampa is a Global Practice Lead for Dell Services Business Intelligence practice. Prior to joining Dell in 2008, Mike owned a data warehouse consulting practice for 14 years, providing BI and data warehousing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies in the high-tech manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services industries. Mike has over 30 years of practitioner’s experience and is a sought-after business leader, speaker and educator.
Jeffrey Word, PhD. is a Vice President of Product Strategy at SAP. Mr. Word has more than 18 years experience in business and IT strategy working for Fortune 1000 companies. Over the last several years he has worked on technology strategy with focus on corporate process improvement initiatives and enterprise architecture design. His newest book, SAP HANA Essentials was released in spring 2012.