Traditional transactional Finance Systems have been undergoing an evolution with key decision makers asking for real-time analytics to support company strategies. Successful and modern enterprises require more from business systems financial data with less of the antiquated lengthy end of month batch jobs or exaggerated workflows that build unnecessary time into order processing. Talking to financial controllers today, they are looking for integrated financial data, both analytical and transactional, with a greater emphasis on prediction and forecasting rather than just historical recording.
To enable true business benefits, both large and small companies are demanding highly flexible business systems with exceptional throughput that can provide immediate access to data from anywhere, all from one simple business suite. The evolved systems from the past 20 years are not capable of evolving further; it is time for the revolution.
SAP's strategy, R/3 to ECC to Business Suite, has now been replaced with a whole new Business System; S/4HANA. As most people will know, SAP HANA is an in-memory repository that provides faster access predominately within the Business Information department. Unlike the SAP HANA standalone platform, S/4HANA joins the digital processes from all of a company’s departments. This means, for example, that production, process control, and finance can all run together.
I see SAP HANA as core to the new business suite, enabling the redesign of the traditional database architecture to remove traditional aggregate limitations and provide a consolidated financial and controlling platform for real time processing and reporting. On top of this platform lies SAP’s much friendlier UI, with a plethora of pre-configured Fiori Applications that simplify business functions and enable the ‘on any device’ requirement.
In addition, the most important part of the revolution is that although SAP will support all existing SAP platforms, SAP has stated that all future developments, new innovations and product releases, will be on the SAP HANA platform. The cards are now on the table.
So where does that leave the current SAP user base?
Firstly, all companies need to understand where on the evolution journey they are currently and then when they are ready to embrace the revolution, what are the prerequisites? What are the licensing issues? What is the next achievable step? My advice on how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Depending on where you are on the journey, moving to S/4HANA could be a fundamental process, technology and architecture change. To avoid it being a major unplanned investment, companies are advised to use the experts and start planning now.