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How SAP developed its latest technology roadmap (and no, it's not just HANA)

by Scott Priest, Managing Editor

September 14, 2011

It doesn't take an MBA or Six Sigma training to know that the best thing a business can do is solve its customers' problems. And it's this simple truth -- and not necessarily the technological breakthrough of SAP HANA -- that is driving the current SAP technology roadmap.

You probably have heard SAP's repeated tagline of on device, on demand, on premise. Now, this isn't a roadmap exactly, but the tagline derives from four consistent pieces of feedback they heard from customers in recent years.

  1. Customers want to increase their business agility
  2. They want to run smart and stable systems
  3. They want to find ways to empower their end users, reducing the burden on IT
  4. Ultimately, they want to reduce TCO

Obviously, these are high-level (and somewhat obvious) goals. But SAP regrouped its strategy and, in part with the development of HANA, took a look at the way its technology was positioned and how it could help customers achieve these four goals.

  1. To increase business agility, SAP looked to build on-demand applications that could provide instant value. Obviously, this ties into their push for better analytics and more readily available information.
  2. To make their systems smarter and more stable, they focused on making data access more high performance, as well as leveraging the existing security features of various solutions. The on-premise part of things remains critical.
  3. To empower end users, they focused on mobility -- looking for ways to support all devices to provide ins tant use and a clean look and feel. Customers are on-device; SAP systems need to be too.
  4. To reduce TCO, they pursued landscape extensibility, namely providing a consistent user experience throughout the various applications that are available.

These actions are all still very much in progress, obviously. HANA has a place, certainly -- specifically in the analytical side, and in providing data faster and more accurately. But it's important to see that despite the excitement surrounding in-memory computing, it's not the only focus of SAP right now. The technological foundation and user experience may not be as sexy topics, but they're by no means being ignored.

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