Business Drivers and Requirements for Custom Application Development on SAP HANA Platform

Jordan Cao

Posted by Jordan Cao on June 29, 2015

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Since I have returned from SAPPHIRE, I have embarked in a mission to spot how to efficiently identify business innovation on the SAP HANA platform by learning from others. In my first blog, I addressed the importance of reading others’ innovation applications from SAP HANA innovation award.  Now, I am going to highlight the general business incentives for building our own applications.  The goal is not to build the application, but solve the business problems. According to this Forrester paper, 68% of surveyed businesses list building custom applications among their top priorities for the next 12 months. Before we ask why businesses choose to build their own applications, I think it is important for us to address the business needs to prepare for this journey.  This Forrester white paper gives guidelines and also summarizes the two main reasons for businesses to build its own applications:

  1. Enhance user experience
  2. Dismantle information silos to improve business agility

For either case, the ultimate goal is to increase the competitive advantages of the business.  Enhancing the user experience includes cases for external users (such as customers) and internal users (such as employees). Obviously, businesses can gain competitive advantage if the customer experience is better.  On the other side, employee efficiency can also improve competitive advantages.  It is your employees who are serving your customers, thus, keeping happier and efficient internal employees are also critical.

There are multiple examples of this. In today’s highly competitive and Internet connected business environment, customer preferences increasingly influence the way companies conduct their business.  For example, customers care about not only the products they purchased, but also the services; they care about both the end result and the process.  So, we can develop custom applications that offer the best possible personalized buying experience for customers.  In another side, there are also examples focusing on improving employees’ productivity and retention.  Examples include consolidating disparate information into a single personalized view, facilitating collaboration among cross-divisional teams, and facilitating access to information from any device and location. These custom applications take into account the unique ways a business operates and ultimately help improve business operations and reduce costs.

The second major reason is to dismantle information silos. This is not surprising since incomplete or conflicting information hinders the ability to make educated business decision. Building new applications that go across information silos can also ensure that both internal and external stakeholders are able to act on complete, consistent and reliable data with deep insight in real-time. Especially in the age of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), it is hard for companies to find packaged applications that can work across data from all interaction channels and produce consistent and reliable view of data to internal and external stakeholders. I will explore more cases later in my following blogs.

Now that we have looked at the business drivers for custom application development, I am thinking if there are common requirements for HANA applications? Based on the existing HANA applications cases, I categorized the following four potential groups:

  1.  If you have special requirement for high performance, you can evaluate HANA platform:  The in-memory computing technology of HANA can help businesses running applications much faster and more efficiently, which means better user experience, higher productivity, and more complex tasks;
  2.  If you want to simplify application architecture, HANA platform can be a good choice:  HANA tries to simplify application architecture and development process, which means better agility and faster time-to-market to win the competition;
  3.  If you need the single voice of truth through the single data source, you should choose SAP HANA: HANA enables on-the-fly aggregation without pre-aggregation and index, which means multiple applications can run calculation on the same copy of data on the fly without impacting each other;
  4. If you want the deep integration, SAP HANA allows you to integrate data process across different devices, applications, or data sources.

When all these four requirements are met, innovation can flourish.  Let’s look at the 2015  SAP HANA Innovation Award, there are multiple real examples.  Here is one startup custom application: SGIT’s solution, participated in the program.  SGIT partnered with Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka to co-invent a SAP HANA based solution to redesign the traditional customer engagement methodology.  Leveraging SAP HANA to aggregate customer information in real-time, the SGIT’s solution sends targeted promotions to customers that use hotel services and also allows the hotel front-desk employees to accelerate the check-in process. Read the solution blog for more details. Specifically, this application leverages SAP HANA technology to improve the user experiences of both customers and employees by delivering high data processing performance, integration of multiple data sources and a single data source by avoiding data duplications.  Click here to SGIT’s solution video.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will cover more details of specific custom applications categories and explain how/why you can use SAP HANA to build highly performing, simple, applications that integrate data and deliver a single source of truth to improve the experience of both customers and employees.

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