A team of engineering and technology professors founded Soraa five years ago with the goal of re-inventing the light bulb, or at least the LED (light-emitting diode) version. Pioneering groundbreaking new technology, Soraa devised a method to produce what it calls the perfect light, an LED lamp that shines brighter and is more energy efficient than its counterparts — it was also the first LED to deliver a full spectrum of light.
The startup mentality Soraa adopted to champion this new technology is how the company approaches modeling its IT landscape, according to Eran Ziv, the Head of Supply Chain and former Vice President of Finance at Soraa. "We are still a startup company at heart," he says, "so we are willing to take risks in moving to new technology if it means gaining some business benefits."
When Soraa transitioned from a research and development phase to manufacturing and production about a year ago, the move to a new technological platform entailed transitioning from a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based ERP system to SAP Business All-in-One for High Tech running on SAP Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (SAP Sybase ASE).1
Because Soraa is a fully integrated company, designing and producing its LED lamps from raw material to the finished product, its supply chain and inventory models are fairly complex. With an integrated system in place, Soraa achieved fully documented visibility into its purchasing, manufacturing, inventory, and sales cycles.
However, with anticipated growth on the immediate horizon, such as more than doubling the number of stock keeping units (SKUs) necessitating material requirements planning, the company realized that it would need reporting capabilities to match its accessible repository of centralized data. Even after Soraa migrated its data from its SaaS-based ERP to SAP Sybase ASE, reports were still exported from the SAP system to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, requiring resources for any deep analysis into the interplay of its lines of business.
"It was time consuming to try to put all the various reports together to be presentable and usable for the business," Ziv says. "For an inventory perspective, for example, we’d need to run reports for different locations before getting ready for a meeting. Maybe with a business intelligence tool we’d be able to do this, but not having this capability was limiting for us."
To address this limitation, Soraa decided to migrate its SAP Sybase ASE database to SAP HANA. With SAP HANA as the database underneath the SAP Business All-in-One suite, Soraa would have the reporting tools it needed. Deciding on this migration, Ziv says, was in keeping with the startup innovative mindset. And with SAP Sybase ASE already in place, Soraa was a perfect candidate to pilot the solution designed specifically for small-to-midmarket companies. And because the business was the first to implement the solution, it turned to an SAP partner for help.
Pioneers Migrate to SAP HANA
With SAP Sybase ASE data replicated in a development environment, Soraa viewed the migration to SAP HANA as a relatively low-risk proposition. The company was using SAP Sybase ASE in production mode until September when the migration to SAP HANA was complete.
"We’re still not a mature company, so from our perspective the risk of being first was offset by the benefits and the extra cost we would have incurred had we waited another year for a different ERP system or to use SAP HANA as the database," Ziv says. "That was a trade-off we were willing to take, especially knowing we could rely on SAP Sybase ASE in the meantime."
With the prospect of having roughly 100 reports generated from SAP HANA by the end of 2013, Soraa was more than willing to make the switch. Less importantly, Ziv says, was SAP HANA’s real-time analytics capabilities, if only because the volume of data as a maturing company was still relatively small.
While not a main driver, Soraa still saw the potential value in real-time analytics. Ziv points to the company’s sales team’s social media collaborations as one example of how Soraa envisions SAP HANA as a real-time analytics platform for the whole company. By using a networking tool on their sales platform, Soraa’s sales members are making decisions based on real-time information from their colleagues and clients. With SAP HANA, Ziv envisions sales having that same level of communication with all lines of business, benefiting from having a window into real-time inventory updates, for instance.
This could also mean tighter integration of non-SAP applications to the SAP HANA platform. Sales, for example, which currently touches the SAP system only when an electronic data interchange (EDI) transaction triggers the invoicing process, could do more forecasting in the SAP environment with the goal of going after larger accounts.
"That’s where I see a big value in SAP HANA," Ziv says. "Those kinds of interactions can be very beneficial to the whole company. So while today it’s just sales, with SAP HANA, those insights can be across the company — whether it’s a logistics issue, it’s someone visiting a contract manufacturer and needing immediate resolution, or it’s finance needing an updated report to know whether to approve a discounted order. Overall, I see us closing cycles more quickly than we are today."
1 See "New Opportunities Are Illuminated at Soraa" in the October-December 2013 issue of insiderPROFILES. [back]