Ivo Bauermann, SAP Global VP and GM for Enterprise Performance Management, visits with SAPinsider Studio during the Reporting & Analytics 2014 conference in Atlanta to discuss SAP Cloud for Planning. Topics of this discussion include:
- The SAP Cloud for Planning roadmap; including future integration with SuccessFactors and Ariba
- Collaboration tools and functionality
- Its positioning on the SAP HANA Cloud platform
- Cloud for Planning and mobility
View the video, and read an edited transcript of the conversation here:
Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I am at the SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics conference 2014. This afternoon I am pleased to be joined by Ivo Bauermann, who is the SAP Global Vice President and General Manager for Enterprise Performance Management. Ivo, welcome.
Ivo Bauermann, SAP: Thank you, glad to be here.
Ken: The big news coming out of this conference, what everyone is talking about, is SAP Cloud for Planning. We heard a lot about it during the keynote yesterday, and I know that’s why you’ve been here talking to customers about it. Can you start by taking us through the thought process for the creation of this solution?
Ivo: Absolutely. Like you said, there is a lot of excitement around this. We’re excited, our partners are excited, customers are excited. Basically what we did is we looked at the market and what our customers need. We listened to our customers, and there are two things that we saw. One, is there’s a lot of volatility in the market, economic uncertainty that companies have to deal with. At the same time, there is tremendous opportunity that technology provides; more data, more detailed data, financial data, and business data that companies can use through technology that would help them manage that uncertainty. The challenge is, the tools that companies are using today are just not sufficient. There are still a lot of spreadsheets being used. Business applications are pretty complex to use, and third – and this amazes me – is there’s a lot of disconnections in the business. We live in a highly connected world in our daily lives, and in the business we see all these disconnects. So what we looked at is, how can we build a simpler application that would still use all of these great technologies that we have to solve these issues? So that’s what we did with SAP Cloud for Planning; we opted to build the best planning application that possibly could and make it high-performing and put it in the cloud so it’s easy to deploy and easy to use.
Ken: So, my understanding is that this is starting with finance? Can you confirm that, and then can you talk about the direction for future rollouts?
Ivo: Absolutely. We start with financial planning and analysis because that’s where the majority of our customers are and basically the plans come together in the financial department. So how can you get a good handle on your finances? That’s priority No. 1. But as I said, given the economic uncertainly it becomes more important to understand what your business drivers are and also the technology allows you to bring in more of that business data and connect it to your financial plans. So the next step after this is we’re going to look at and allow our customers to do business planning, sales planning, marketing planning, workforce planning - from a process standpoint. From a technology standpoint, integrate with those types of source systems. So we’re looking to integrate with SuccessFactors, integrate with Ariba for procurement planning, looking at integrating with Hybris for marketing planning and even outside of the SAP world connecting with other CRM type of applications for sales forecasting.
Ken: So along those lines is collaboration and in the keynote (at this conference) we saw some nifty collaborative tools where you’re collaborating with fellow SAP users in real-time. Can you talk about that part of it and how instrumental that is?
Ivo: I’m glad you picked up on it as something that triggered your interest. That was something we took as an example of changing the application and the way people plan. And the whole idea with Cloud for Planning is that we wanted to build an application that works the way that you work, that people work in the more natural way rather than the systematic and mechanical approach. What we did with that collaboration piece that I showed you during the keynote is far more the way that we interact today, like tools like WhatsApp, rather than a highly sequential process it becomes more of a conversation with your peers. What I showed in the live demo is that not only are you doing that within the application, but you can extend it to mobile as well. And I think that’s a really realistic use case where people are on the road but they need to interact with the planning process and they can just do it from their iPhone. That’s something we showed you can do in real-time and that is completely different from what anybody else is doing.
Ken: So this really kind of changes the way I’m going to be working with spreadsheets in every facet?
Ivo: It does, but the good news is that it still will have the simplicity and ease of use that we’re used to and expect from a spreadsheet. But we’re changing the way that you’re disconnected. In spreadsheets the whole problem is that you’re disconnected. So there is no collaboration, there is no one place where you put all your information. So we’re taking the good things from Excel, the ease-of-use, but then with all of that we’re going to give you the ease-of-use to collaborate, visualize, and report – and combine this with analytics and predictive. So there’s a lot more, but the best thing is that in the end people will just love working with this application and one principle we took, or one question we asked ourselves – why do people like consumer applications so much? Because they’re beautiful and easy to use and a pleasure to work with – why not do the same thing for business applications?
Ken: And so Cloud for Planning is built on SAP HANA?
Ivo: It is
Ken: How important or instrumental was it then to have SAP HANA to be able to build this solution? Could you have done it without SAP HANA?
Ivo: It is essential. We built it on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, so not just SAP HANA as a database but on a platform and here is the reason why it becomes important; No. 1 is this has to be scalable, I mentioned all the new data and the bigger data volumes that people can use in these planning processes, you need to have a scalable and high-performing platform and that’s where SAP HANA comes in. But it becomes even more important we really wanted to make sure that there’s a tight integration between what such a database can perform through an application. And if you built it on any database, if we would have built it on any database, which is what vendors typically would do is build an application layer in between and that creates all those complications. It will bring you a lot more overhead in terms of performance which people don’t like. It brings s in more complications when you’re introducing new functionality. So we’re taking all the complexity away by moving it down into the SAP HANA core. So that’s a big differentiator that we have. And the second point is, because it is a platform it allows us not to just to produce an application in isolation. This is where you can start to integrate this with other systems that run on SAP HANA, and you can expose all kinds of functionality like predictive, like analytics through that same platform.
Ken: Ivo, thanks for joining us.
Ivo: It was a pleasure Ken.