During last week’s press presentation about the launch of the SAP Business Suite on HANA, Chairman and co-founder Hasso Plattner made the point that in-memory computing that gives access to data in nano-seconds is an inevitability in today’s mobile world where no one is prepared to stand around gazing at a Smart phone or tablet until some old technology grinds its way through a calculation routine. Could be damn dangerous too.
This is just as important for finance and enterprise performance management (EPM) as it is for functions such as supply chain and manufacturing that have always needed to work as close to real time as possible. Traditional EPM systems struggle to support the business challenges as they are unable to readily tap into growing amounts of data needed to support business decisions and financial analysts are still having to validate and aggregate the data, then read through reports to try to glean insights. But with the availability of SAP HANA – cited in one press quote as having the potential to become the fastest selling business software in history – those days are rapidly coming to a close with a growing number of organizations embracing the technology to provide stronger analytical solutions to decision makers, facilitate faster and more detailed planning and reforecasting and get fresher and more granular analysis of large amounts of data.
But as my colleagues Karuna Mukherjea and Malcolm Faulkner point out in recently published article in SAP Insider magazine, technology innovations always organizations with an opportunity to review exactly how they run their business, something the SAP Business Suite on HANA gives by the bucket load. But writing about EPM, the main thing they recommend organizations to consider is mobile technology as devices are now so prolific that they are redefining how organizations do business and how people manage performance in the enterprise. No longer do you have to wait until you can get back on your laptops to look at the latest key financial and performance metrics; you can do it on the hoof and make faster decisions that help drive growth and minimise risk. As an example of what is possible they cite the City of Boston that recently implemented ‘Boston About Results’, a new performance management system that marries SAP Strategy Management with an app for iPad 2, called CitizenInsight, that allows the public quick access to a myriad of the city’s performance measures.
But it’s only now that finance has started to embrace mobile technologies to empower their colleagues and the article suggests the obvious place to start is to ‘mobile-enable’ the EPM solution that their company already has in place. This is why SAP is currently working on the new SAP EPM Unwired mobile client, which will give access to the 10.0 versions of SAP’s EPM applications to provide business users with a next-generation user experience via the iPad and other mobile devices.
The first solution planned that will be made accessible through SAP EPM Unwired is SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 10.0 that will allow users to do considerably more than standard data exploration and analysis, such as making inputs and adjustments to plans, budgets, and forecasts — all via a mobile device. These kinds of capabilities set this client apart from mobile apps that only enable basic data exploration from a mobile device.- more in line with the capabilities available in SAP’s on-premise EPM solutions. To me that sounds like another fine example of SAP’s ‘incremental and non-disruptive’ innovation.