SAP HANA: Users are struggling to see the business case

SAP's push behind its HANA in-memory platform may have raised awareness of the technology across business but that high profile is not yet necessarily translating into adoption.
Written by Toby Wolpe, Contributor

Price alone is not putting customers off SAP HANA — it's more that they can't see a use for the in-memory technology that merits the outlay.

Three out of four SAP user companies that have yet to buy a SAP HANA product say they can't identify a business case to justify the cost, according to results from an Americas' SAP Users' Group member survey.

That finding is supported by views from the SAP partners polled in the same research, which picked out "better business case guidance" as the top way SAP could improve HANA uptake.

"Three years into HANA's lifecycle, this snapshot will be worrying reading for SAP," Angela Eager, research director at analyst firm TechMarketView, wrote in a blogpost. "The lack of knowledge about use cases and demonstrable benefits is a major failing on its part.

"There has been a reversion to technology/speed/function messaging from vendors over recent years, on the back of new database, big data and advanced analytics technologies, for example. This is a negative move and the ASUG survey is one example of the payback."

After the shortage of identifiable business uses, the next reason given for not buying HANA products is a lack skills, cited by about 35 percent of respondents, followed by roadmap and upgrade issues.

ASUG CEO Geoff Scott described the survey results as a critical feedback loop on the current state of HANA adoption.

"Like all new technologies, widespread adoption takes time and patience. The exponential rise in data volumes, coupled with our unquenchable thirst for speed and insight, requires solutions like HANA," he said in a statement.

According to ASUG, another factor in a reluctance to buy HANA may be simply a belief that SAP will continue to support customers' current systems for some time, thereby removing any urgent need to adopt it.

Just under three-quarters of those who said they have no plans to implement HANA believe that SAP will support their existing environments into the future, or for at least five years.

Of those companies that had bought a HANA product, 65 percent said they had gone for Business Warehouse on HANA, followed by Business Suite on HANA, HANA custom analytics, HANA enterprise applications, and either HANA Enterprise Cloud or HANA Cloud Platform.

Business Warehouse on HANA also emerged as the top candidate for a first purchase by those firms that yet to invest in the technology.

Eager said Business Warehouse on HANA "is hardly breaking new ground or driving the significant change in how businesses operate that SAP says HANA enables".

Nevertheless, the survey highlighted some positives for SAP HANA. Among those who have implemented it, 34 percent said it helped them optimise costs, while 24 percent thought it enabled innovation by the CFO or finance department.

ASUG also followed up the survey with supplemental questioning of its early SAP HANA adopter members, who said "HANA's value extends beyond performance, and lies more so in the new ways of building applications and of thinking about business processes that HANA enables".

To address concerns raised by SAP customers in the survey, ASUG last week launched a four-part webcast series sharing the experiences of HANA users for its members.

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