Companies are becoming more data-driven to better connect with customers and respond more quickly to their needs. In today’s fast-paced digital economy, processing enormous amounts of data in real time is quickly becoming a requirement for businesses to understand all there is to know about which customers are buying what products and services. Entire business models are built upon data.
The automotive industry presents a perfect example, where cars are no longer seen as vehicles to transport people from point A to point B. Rather, today’s digitally savvy buyers expect their vehicles to be part of a digital ecosystem to organize their personal mobility. They are becoming mobile offices; drivers expect connection to the digital world from the moment they step into the car, and innovation is now just as important as fuel economy. A manufacturer that can not only customize digital modifications to a single customer’s liking and deliver this faster than a competitor, but also organize a whole ecosystem around mobility needs, has a much greater chance of retaining a loyal customer.
Using and sharing data from connected cars presents dealers, manufacturers, and service technicians with tremendous opportunities. First, signals from sensors provide optimized data that can enable connectivity by eliminating the traditional silos between manufacturing, sales, and service — enabling them to gain real-time insights into a vehicle on the road and provide customers with a comprehensive, 360-degree experience. Knowing more about the customer and being this connected to them means more opportunity to offer instant services while on the road, preventive maintenance, new mobility services, and to reach the ultimate goal of increasing retention and selling more.
Moving to a Digital Template
The automotive industry is just one example of the incredible opportunities presented by collecting data from a device, in this case, a vehicle. The challenge then becomes how best to streamline all of this data and put it to good use. For many companies, exacerbating this challenge is complex, slow, and inflexible IT landscapes that often cannot meet the requirements of the business. The dominant system architecture in IT landscapes today is client-server, with dozens of servers for applications and dedicated databases for each of them. System landscapes are fragmented and heterogeneous, with isolated data silos containing duplicate and inconsistent information. The operation and maintenance of these legacy environments, which have been growing for more than three decades, are expensive, consume an inordinate amount of resources, and are simply not equipped to support a digital business.
To become a data-driven, digital business and establish a closer relationship to customers than ever before — by being able to, for example, respond at point of sale to customer requirements — entails greater agility, speed, and data accuracy. In short, a digital business is able to process large volumes of data in real time. In the SAP world, SAP HANA provides those qualities by breaking the pattern of relational database systems. The in-memory processing power of SAP HANA changes the dynamic that — with relational database systems — led to a plethora of distorted data and time-consuming, nightly batch runs. Storing all data in a disaggregated, atomic form in the central SAP HANA in-memory database eliminates all of the above roadblocks to running a digital enterprise.
Storing data in this form, with no redundancies and with availability for all SAP applications at the same time, is the premise behind SAP S/4HANA, SAP’s next-generation business suite that only runs on the SAP HANA database and is the foundation for providing the business with a digital core. Its features include real-time data processing with no data duplication, sub-second response times, scalability for data growth, and flexibility for handling existing and future business processes that require both transactional and analytical capabilities at the very same time. From an operational perspective, it leads to a more cost-effective and secure system landscape.
From a systems standpoint, the benefits of storing data in this manner mean eliminating data silos and, with them, all the interfaces between them with all the data provisioning processes, such as extract, transform, and load (ETL), batch jobs, and nightly data loads. The elimination of duplicates means more accurate data with a smaller footprint, which also results in fewer hardware requirements.
SAP HANA for Non-SAP Applications
The reality is that there is no single SAP customer in the world that has nothing other than SAP systems in its landscape. There is a misconception, however, that the benefits that SAP HANA provides as the engine behind a digital transformation are only applicable to SAP applications. The truth is that many existing non-SAP systems and applications will continue to run on SAP HANA. Typically, any client-server application that has been implemented in Java, C#, or a similar programming language and runs on a relational database can instead run on SAP HANA and achieve significant benefits.
Many organizations and clients that Capgemini works with by helping to make a database exchange are surprised that this is an option for individual, mission-critical, on-premise applications. Another pleasant surprise for these clients — and what helps to set Capgemini apart as a system integration partner — is that moving non-SAP applications to SAP HANA does not have to mean discarding current investments in tailor-made competitive and unique business logic. Protecting current investments is possible because existing non-SAP applications are not reimplemented on SAP HANA, but are rather moved onto it.
Another important point to remember is that customers that wish to extend their existing SAP HANA landscape to non-SAP systems do not require additional technology. Rather, the specialized skillsets that make Capgemini an SAP global partner can take the proven technology that is already running an SAP production system and extend it seamlessly to a non-SAP environment without any downtime or business disruption.
Data Consolidation for Any Landscape
Because SAP HANA dispenses with the traditional limitations of a relational database, exchanging a non-SAP database for SAP HANA is not a one-for-one exchange — in other words, it does not mean moving 10 non-SAP applications to 10 SAP HANA databases. Instead, in an SAP HANA world, multiple applications will connect to a single consolidated SAP HANA instance and work on the exact same unique and atomic set of data. The flexibility of SAP HANA allows for this, and by using SAP HANA views, each existing application will be virtually presented with its existing individual data model but based on a common set of data. This is what Capgemini calls a “corporate real-time data pool.”
By closely assessing the challenges unique to a specific landscape, we can then determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to bring SAP HANA to a company’s non-SAP applications in alignment with an effective overall digital strategy. UNLIMITED by Capgemini helps clients unlock the true potential of their custom applications with SAP HANA to ensure their journey to becoming a digital enterprise includes mission-critical, non-SAP applications.
Typically, what customers discover once their non-SAP applications are migrated to a single SAP HANA database is shorter response times by up to a factor of 500, an up-to-70% smaller data footprint, increased capacity at the same performance level, parallel query processing at a high performance level, and flexible data modeling that allows different applications to work with the same data in parallel.
The benefits from an IT perspective are immense: less complexity, significant cost reduction, fewer dedicated resources, and increased flexibility and capacity. Even the development process becomes much more efficient, as developers do not have to care about performance-optimized code anymore, which traditionally consumes up to 70% of their time and stands for up to 50% of the code, depending on the application. In other words, SAP HANA will save expensive and rare development resources and shorten time to market significantly.
From the business perspective, of course, adopting a digital framework with a single SAP HANA database for existing SAP and non-SAP applications allows a company to manage all of its data from a single platform. This opens the door for a company to rework its business processes and even business models to better serve its customers in the digital manner they expect.
Providing this digital experience in a connected car, for example, could mean features such as instantaneous personalized online service throughout the buying process and post-sale experience, an immediate response to service requests while on the road, autonomous driving, or an extension of a professional or private environment to the vehicle while traveling.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a digital enterprise and being able to react in real time to the changing demands of a sophisticated and digitally savvy customer base. SAP HANA, though, tends to level the field for those organizations serious about embracing a digital template, and that holds true even for organizations with a large number of customized, non-SAP applications. For companies that are interested in beginning a digital transformation with SAP HANA, only Capgemini provides a holistic, end-to-end approach accounting for both SAP and non-SAP applications, with a low-cost and low-risk upfront investment. For more information or to start your journey today, go to www.capgemini.com/sap/sap-hana.