SAP S/4HANA certainly can run complex and mission-critical business processes. But the innovations behind S/4HANA are actually easy to understand. This is expressed in a simple formula:
Simpler data model + Improved User Experience = new business capability & improved productivity.
What Does it Mean to Simplify?
While it is easy to see an improved UX in action, sometimes it can be difficult to understand how we improve a data model. After all, SAP ERP for decades now has run some of the most complicated business processes in the world. Let’s take a look at an analogy from SAP to better understand what a simplified data model looks like.
If you remember taking pictures and sending them to friends and family as recently as the 1980s and 1990s, you’ll recall that it was a complicated process. You recorded pictures on film which had to be processed with chemicals. Then pictures were printed on paper and sent via the postal service, itself a complicated web involving tens of thousands of people and vehicles. Eventually, this process could be sped up by using one hour photo processing and overnight delivery. You could get a picture to someone in as little as a day. While this improved speed was nice, at the core, this process was still as complicated as it ever was.
Then the internet changed everything. Now, your “camera” is really a network node that can transmit a photo to anyone in seconds. But it is not merely faster, the “architecture” has been reduced dramatically. This simplified model is really what drives the photo and image applications we have today. The simplified architecture, not simply improved speed, is responsible for the explosion of creativity we have now.
In a sense, all other ERP solutions today, including running ECC 6 on HANA, are like the old way of sharing photos. Yes, they can be made faster in some areas. But only SAP S/4HANA takes advantage of the speed to dramatically simplify the architecture.
Imagine what this simplicity can do for you:
Allow your users to get whatever they need at any level of detail instantly
Eliminate the need to reconcile data sources or aggregates with the latest transactions
Reduce the complexity and storage requirements of the system
Improve the reliability and performance of the system by eliminating locking (HANA is an insert-only DB)
You can only get this simplification and the resulting new capabilities in SAP S/4HANA. Simply running your existing ERP in-memory, even if it is the latest SAP ECC 6, is not enough. Taking what you have today and running it in memory (Oracle 12c or any other in-memory DB) does not result in any benefit other than some improvement in query times.
Reduced IT Complexity
While it is nice that the business can achieve some awesome benefits from a simpler data model, what is in it for IT? Combined with historical archiving, the database can become much smaller without all that redundant aggregate data. This results in storage savings, faster backup and recovery, and improved reliability (due to less locking). IT stands to benefit just as much as their counterparts in the business.
The impact of SAP S/4HANA on your IT landscape:
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