SAP puts CRM on HANA, and promises more to come

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe showcases the SAP 360 Customer offering, says more of Business Suite to follow it onto the in-memory computing platform.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

SAP has showcased a new CRM package that uses its HANA in-memory computing platform, which the company says could help companies generate insights into customer behaviour much faster.

The German software giant unveiled its SAP 360 Customer offering, a CRM product that it said is the first large-scale transactional system to run on HANA, at the SAP Sapphire Now conference in Madrid on Tuesday.

"This is a big step because it opens the door on massive simplification of data structures in your company," SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said.

With HANA, data is never passed back from RAM to secondary storage like a hard disc. Because data can be accessed far more rapidly from RAM than the surface of a spinning disc, the time needed to operate on that data can be dramatically reduced, according to SAP.

The speed at which companies can get access to data on HANA-based transactional systems means they can simplify their infrastructures, Hagemann Snabe said.

"Most of the complexity that we've created was not because we love complexity, but due to the slowness of the disc," he said.

CRM and more

Hagemann Snabe said that CRM is one of "five major pillars" served by SAP's core Business Suite software and that SAP is working on running other parts of the Business Suite on HANA.

"I can assure that we have not stopped our efforts [at CRM], if anything we increased the speed of our efforts on having the entire Business Suite run on HANA, where the customer wants that."

Hagemann Snabe said that SAP will be reliant on its network of partners to develop many of the applications and services on its HANA platform, which is used by more than 600 customers.

A key component of the SAP 360 Customer offering is the HANA-powered SAP CRM application. But SAP 360 Customer also brings together several different SAP offerings - including the SAP Customer OnDemand cloud offering, the SAP Jam social software platform and several mobile solutions.

SAP 360 Customer will offer real-time text, transaction and analytics processing to generate immediate insights into customer preferences and behaviour, he said. Analysis can be carried out on both on internal company data and external data, such as posts on social networks, and results can be delivered to a range of mobile devices.

Carter Lusher, research fellow and chief analyst for enterprise application ecosystem at Ovum, said that SAP 360 - and future SAP offerings based on HANA - will give companies the ability to tap many more sources of data to serve their customers with more personalised information, while still returning that information at near instantaneous speeds.

Hagemann Snabe said that one of the ways that SAP 360 Customer would be sold was as a single package with one price. He said the simplicity of the pricing model - one price for a package to tackle one business need - was indicative of how SAP intends to resolve common criticisms about the complexity of it different offerings and pricing model.

SAP also announced several changes that will make it easier for customers running SAP Business Suite software to integrate with the Ariba Network, the B2B network purchased by SAP earlier in the year. These include product catalogue integration between SAP Business Suite - including logistics materials management and supplier relationship management - and the Ariba Network, based on SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration software. The improvements also include purchase order and invoice automation for automatic exchange of documents in the procure-to-pay and order-to-cash processes.

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