ASUG SAP HANA Survey: Accelerating adoption and opportunities

Jeff Word

Posted by Jeff Word on December 10, 2015

VP Product Strategy, Database & Technology

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The ASUG SAP HANA Adoption Survey just came out and I wanted to take a minute to double-click on one very important aspect of it. We’ll post an in-depth discussion on the HANA Effect podcast with the survey report author from ASUG, Kevin Reilly, next week to dive deeper into the report.

Overall, companies are adopting SAP HANA at a phenomenal rate and 88% are extremely happy with the benefits SAP HANA provides.   That’s great, but still room to get better.  Companies are reporting huge benefits across business areas: finance operations (47%), IT landscape (34%), cost optimization / lower TCO (25%), sales & marketing (24%), manufacturing, ops, supply chain (23%), increased profitability 11%).  More importantly, 76% of companies who have done an SAP HANA project are already planning on doing another SAP HANA project in the near future. Clearly, once companies get that first SAP HANA project up and successful, they’re off and running on their SAP HANA roadmap.  This “stacking” of SAP HANA projects is something I’ve seen in all the most successful customers strategies.

The survey confirms what SAP is seeing in the market, but what’s even more important is that with the release of SAP S/4HANA earlier this year, companies now have a crystal clear roadmap for what their next-generation, digital business platform will be.

Looking back over the history of SAP’s major application releases over the decades, it’s a bit difficult to compare what’s happening with SAP HANA today to anything that’s happened before, given the unique nature of SAP HANA as a stand-alone database platform, a run-time database for existing SAP applications and the innovation engine powering the new codeline for SAP S/4HANA. So trying to use earlier release adoption metrics can’t really capture the broader adoption picture with SAP HANA effectively.  The one thing that is crystal clear: Starting the first SAP HANA project is the key to continued success with SAP HANA across the landscape.

So lets break it down a bit. If the value of SAP HANA is so immediately clear and compelling after one project, why aren’t more SAP customers starting SAP HANA projects? The survey is a little difficult to interpret since it bundles all the responses into one big category, but for the 22% of responding companies who are not currently considering an SAP HANA project, over half of the non-buying customers state that they can’t identify a business case that justifies the investment.  One truism I’ve seen around the world is that figuring out where to start with SAP HANA is the biggest initial obstacle in the beginning.  That quickly turns to a sprint to get the next project, and the next project, done fast!

Given the variety of angles that companies can approach an SAP HANA project, its unclear whether the respondents had attempted to build a formal business case, what metrics they used, whether they had SAP or a partner assist them or if they used any of the tools and resources SAP provides to help them.

I’m also curious about which SAP HANA use cases they tried to build a business case for. Building a business case for an S/4HANA upgrade is a very different exercise than building the business case for custom apps on SAP HANA as a standalone database or even using SAP HANA as a side-car accelerator for ECC6.0. It’s a question we’ll have to ask in more detail in next year’s survey, but the results clearly show that companies still need help adjusting their analysis approach for identifying business value in the new world of opportunities that SAP HANA enables.

If we drill down to influencing factors that will help convert these non-buying companies into successful SAP HANA customers, then we see that it is actually not the value side of the business case equation that is the strongest customer adoption impediment, it is actually lack of clarity on the cost side. Respondents who were struggling with making the case for an SAP HANA project stated their reasons for not moving forward:

  • 55% on software costs
  • 54% on hardware costs
  • 46% on understanding incentives, promotions, discounts
  • 39% understanding business value of HANA scenarios

This is clearly an area where SAP, our hardware partners and user groups need to jointly provide more specific and easily relatable information about all of the costs and benefits associated with SAP HANA projects. Quite frankly, we can’t leave any company behind during this critical inflection point in our industry. The overwhelming architectural and business benefits of this shift are too great and too impactful for companies to wait to adopt and SAP and our ecosystem must commit to much better education and assistance for companies evaluating SAP HANA project benefits and costs.  We’ve all got to do better and we will.

Some of the key things that SAP, our partners and ASUG plan to do to help companies identify the business value:

  • Jointly deliver more clarity on SAP HANA migration paths and different SAP HANA-based products.
  • Jointly work on programs to demonstrate/prove SAP HANA business case benefits prior to implementation.
  • Jointly deliver Value Discovery workshops and SAP HANA education days across North America to provide companies with the tools, frameworks and knowledge needed to truly identify the business value and path forward with SAP HANA

Companies also need to do a better job being proactive in looking for appropriate “first” SAP HANA projects.  The best and most successful projects I’ve seen typically are smaller and address a core business need, usually for a user group in a finance or supply chain role. Brainstorming potential SAP HANA scenarios with those business groups is a great way to identify potential low-cost, high-speed, big-value SAP HANA projects.  Once customers get their first success with SAP HANA, there’s no stopping them.

As we put together these new offerings for 2016, let me just remind you of some existing resources that companies have found extremely helpful already in their SAP HANA journies.

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