For those of you that were unable to attend SAPPHIRE 2014, here is a rundown of the events and major announcements.

The key theme of SAPPHIRE 2014 was “run simple” underlining SAP’s strategic direction towards enabling customers’ transition to today’s global business network economy and simplifying complex business processes via the SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA. Bill McDermott’s key note address outlined three areas of focus from a simplicity perspective: User Experience, Customer Engagement Commerce and Simple Finance powered by SAP HANA. One key announcement from the user experience perspective was making SAP Fiori, the next generation user experience built on top of SAP applications, available free of cost to maintenance paying customers, thus addressing longstanding concerns of customers having to pay separate license fees for SAP Fiori. Another big announcement was the partnership with Ebay as a first step to creating a global business network & commerce. By connecting to Ebay’s customer marketplace, SAP Customers will now have access to a cloud-based enterprise service procurement catalog, making purchasing decisions transparent and simple.  Continuing with the theme of simplicity, Bill spent some time on eradicating complexity in the application stack with the announcement of Simple Finance powered by SAP HANA.  Simple Finance is an innovative approach to get the really complex and old SAP financial application into a more simplified, easily consumable, cloud based solution offering.  With this announcement, SAP, traditionally a very strong business application company, is regaining its focus on Line of Business innovations in addition to the platform based innovations.  Throughout the conference, SAP continued to hammer home the simplicity message with SAP HANA as the DNA and cloud powered by SAP HANA as the means to make SAP simpler.

On the SAP Business Analytics front, the focus was on continued innovation & improvements on SAP HANA as the target enterprise data warehouse (EDW) platform, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio as the dashboard development platform and SAP Lumira as the agile visualization platform.  There was a lot of interest and focus on the future of enterprise data warehouse architecture in the age of in-memory computing and real-time analytics. SAP HANA now provides the unique ability to unify transaction processing and analytics into one single platform, thus reducing complexity of layers. Vastly improved Smart Data Access functionality allows for virtual data consumption of SAP and non-SAP data across different data bases and storage media and tighter integration with Hadoop enables efficient handling of big data. SAP HANA can form the backbone of the Enterprise Data Warehouse platform to provide an integrated view of enterprise wide data and analytics. For existing SAP BW customers, the unified model in BW 7.40 will combine BW and SQL data modeling capabilities, allowing them to continue to leverage SAP BW functionality and maximize return of investments on SAP BW. Another point to note is that BI for SAP HANA Live, which enables real time operational BI, now comes with enhanced content for SAP CRM, SAP ERP, materials management and project system.

On the SAP BI Roadmap, SAP has made several improvements to the BusinessObjects core platform around self-service, dashboarding, multi-tenant provisioning, mobile BI and support for new and updated tools. SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio v1.3 now has native support of HANA, a number of performance improvements along with better interoperability with Lumira. SAP is marching full steam ahead on positioning SAP Lumira as the agile visualization platform and has introduced several new exciting features such as; the ability to create new datasets from Microsoft excel and CSV files, extension support for adding data connectivity, direct connectivity to SAP BW BEx queries/InfoProviders, support for Bex variables, BW OLAP capabilities, and additional big data drivers for acquiring big data from systems such as Hadoop/HIVE and Cloudera Impala.

Overall, the conference sessions were helpful and informative; however, we found that customers are still looking for answers to the basic question – how do we take steps towards simplification of the environment without disrupting the current initiatives on transactional and analytical applications. The IT attendees were pondering over how to position their technical landscape to align with SAP’s roadmap and how to architect solutions that meet their business’ need for simplicity, agility, self-service and advanced analytics. While those from the business side were focused on how to leverage these technology innovations to transform their business processes to acquire and maintain a competitive advantage.  Many in attendance were trying to figure out how to justify the expense of moving to SAP HANA and what business use cases were others leveraging.

That about brings you up to speed on the show.  If you find yourself in the same shoes as many of those in attendance, trying to figure out what the best strategy is for SAP HANA for your organization, you might want to consider taking advantage of one of the many complimentary services offered by Archius.   We are currently offering a complimentary SAP HANA business case development & assessment workshop. We use a structured process and methodology to assist your organization in determining if there is a supporting business case for investing in SAP HANA and if so, we help you build a comprehensive business plan and use case to support such an investment. We also offer an analytics strategy and roadmap assessment workshop. We use a diagnostic based approach to consider your business & IT strategies, current situation, opportunities and change readiness and deliver a realistic plan for moving forward on a roadmap towards an analytics driven organization