Simplifying SAP R/3 is irrelevant for users

Part two of a series about an old ‘SAP’ dog who learns a new trick

Today more than ever, SAP is more focused on technology (HANA) than data. When they do focus on data, they talk about simplifying it because simplification is necessary to make said technology work better.

In SAP terms, simplification means fewer tables – a feat which is achieved by dropping aggregate tables and support structures. These are very important simplifications when dealing with expensive in-memory technology because building up aggregates eats up processing capacity and fills up the database with redundant data. That stuff I get, but in the grand scheme of data and analytics the discussions about Simplicity and In-Memory are irrelevant because they are small pieces of the analytics puzzle.

The continuing impediment and struggle to getting value from SAP is in the integration of data. I’ve previously written about the fact that many large companies are running multiple SAP R/3 (ECC, ERP) systems. HANA running as a database under R/3 or S/4 does not solve this issue. It should make BW redundant (finally) – but I do not see how that will resolve the multiple ERP issue.

To take it a step further, Big Data (read: Non SAP Data) is becoming more important for analytical purposes. As big data grows exponentially, innovations like the logical data warehouse and Hadoop make it possible to store, integrate, and analyze all data for deeper insights.

SAP Blog Oct 14The chart here – clearly shows that the share of SAP R/3 data that is relevant for decision making decreases over time. This means the data needed for today’s (and tomorrow’s) analytics is increasing reliant on non-SAP sources. Again, I don’t see how HANA or S/4 solves this integration issue.

Note: That does not mean it has become irrelevant, to the contrary see my previous blog, but people should not believe a simplified, faster running R/3 (or S/4) is enough for analytics today. Next I will write about the value of integrating CRM with SAP R/3. Watch for the next blog in this series in the next day or two.


4 thoughts on “Simplifying SAP R/3 is irrelevant for users

  1. avatarSjaak van den Berg

    Hi Patrick,

    I am afraid you missed a couple of points in this blog. First of all, simplification driven by HANA or S4HANA is not a one-trick pony. It is more than deleting tables. The users will be working with an easier to use interface. With this new interface comes embedded analytics (operational reports) for decision support, making the process of decision making easier.
    Another simplification part is the fact that S4HANA will be richer in functionality and other solutions will be presented as add on, leading to landscape simplification. True, it does not seem relevant for the user but for some types of users this is really a big deal. Let us take Master data managers or internal functional consultants for example. They will see their work simplified by this.
    true, multiple ERP systems are a challenge, but you should be able to link the databases and still be able to use the data real time. For instance, Simple Finance can be deployed as a stand alone solution exchanging data with multiple SAP and Non-SAP ERP systems. The challenge is in architecture. The DB will not restrict you.
    As for large quantities of non- sap data, HANA is designed to be able to cope with that. On other parts integration with HADOOP is available. However, since I am no expert on Big-Data, I am not sure how good this is. But at least it is possible.


    Sjaak van den Berg

    1. avatarPatrick Teunissen Post author

      Dear Sjaak, thank you for your reply, although I do get a lot of feedback I appreciate discussion in the open, let’s have many of that in the SAP community in the years to come.

      I do not believe that I have missed points. I have chosen to focus on the main (marketing) message of SAP today. I do not disagree that SAP may have released a better user interface and pointed out myself that reporting on a simplified R/3 (let’s call it S/4HANA) will hopefully make BW redundant. But that is not my point.

      Diversity of applications and data is the trend. Even SAP is acquiring applications, more and more nowadays. Recently a few interesting ones in the HR, Purchasing/Spend and CRM space. Add to this the “big data” coming from the IoT and social media and the fact that many larger R/3 customers run multiple ERP’s. This is why I state that the integration of data is the main issue for decision takers today and that the relative portion of R/3 data in all that accessible and potentially relevant data is rapidly becoming smaller.

      You rightfully point out that you need a proper architecture to solve the integration issue. I believe that is what Teradata is all about. Kindly have a look at our Unified Data Architecture and let me know what you think.

      1. avatarSjaak van den Berg

        Hi Patrick,

        First let me apologize for the late reaction. Business and Family life has been very busy, so it took me a while to sit down and form a proper answer.
        DIversity of applications has been growing for quite a while now, but indeed with the rise of Apps, and business platforms, the number has even increased more. There has been a need to integrate this data for while. With regard to the acquisitions: SAP has always been fond of acquiring other applications. Either to eventuall kill them and incorporate the user base, or to strengthen the product portfolio. Their latest acquisitions have all been in the space of cloud software, business networks and IoT. These applications are now all integrated into the new core (S4HANA). With this, the part of relevant data in R/3 or S/4 is now huge. Hybris, for instance, is very good at extracting data from social media and Apigee deliveres huges amounts of IoT data. So regarding this, they managed to solve the integration problem. When using all-SAP software, integration is not an issue.
        With regard to multiple R/3 systems they haven’t yet, but they have managed to create solutions in S4 that will make it more easy to integrate.
        Now, when companies are running software from multiple vendor, then I guess the integration of information will still be an issue. SAP has tried to make it more manageable by creating an ” open’ db and by ensuring that applications can be easily linked through the cloud platforms, but I honestly don’t know this problem could be tackled.
        I have tried to look at you documents about Unified Data Architecture, but haven’t downloaded it yet. maybe it would be nice to have a conversation about what you guys do?



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