The Six SAP HANA Value Categories

How many times have you heard somebody say, ”HANA is just a database.”? The underlying premise of such a statement is that SAP HANA is a fast database that allows large organizations to run reports quickly, especially if the report is based on big data. The statement also presupposes that batch jobs run faster, assuming that SAP HANA is used to power the SAP transaction system.

At Dell, we believe that such a statement is incorrect, and that this only covers a fraction of the value that SAP HANA can provide. We believe that the real value of SAP HANA can be grouped into six categories—or “Value Categories” as we refer to them. Here is a quick overview of the six value categories with real-life examples.

1.  Real-time operational intelligence

With the help of HANA it is easily possible to connect people and things (as in the Internet of Things or IoT) by rapidly processing data from machines, and streaming events and business operations to deliver real-time insights. This ability will not only enable continuous insight into streaming data, but will also allow organizations to connect the data that is being streamed with historic data in real time with sub-second results. Using this feature, organizations are now able to monitor, analyze, and automate business processes with innovative applications powered by SAP HANA. Not only will this provide business process execution, but it will also improve decision making capabilities, often referred to as “Insight to Action.”

2.  Decision support, simulation and automation

SAP HANA also allows organizations to mine unstructured data to improve decision-making. But it doesn’t end here. Mining structured and unstructured data with the help of SAP HANA’s predictive analytics capabilities enables users to calculate the probability of future outcomes. This means that is now possible to develop models to automate processes for greater efficiency with a built-in rule framework, and have SAP HANA analyze data, predict future outcomes and automatically make recommendations on how to act.

3.  Business process performance

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as I have already mentioned the speed benefits of SAP HANA, and the acceleration of application performance. However, organizations are not limiting themselves to running complex business processes such as Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) much faster, but also to use the extra “horse-power” to improve real-time reporting and tie the thereby gained insight directly into transaction processing.

4.  Big data

This is, of course, the classic use case for SAP HANA, based on how enterprise organizations can accelerate the way they acquire, analyze and act on big data, using the SAP HANA platform. However, the tricky aspect (often overlooked) is that instead of only accelerating existing reporting, it is now possible to uncover entirely new answers to questions that managers have previously not even thought of. The potential to boost performance, unlock new revenue streams (with big data applications), and make effective decisions by analyzing big data at lightening speeds with advanced analytics is the true potential of big data—not just running the same old reports faster.

5.  Data warehousing and data mart

With SAP HANA it is possible to keep your (let’s call them) layers of data simplified. Typically, organizations have a transactional database, such as SAP ECC. More often than not, organizations probably also have a data warehouse. In order to accelerate reporting, they might also have consolidated, summarized data in that data warehouse.

The challenge with this traditional approach is that enterprises have multiple data movements, such as from transactional databases to data warehouses. So organizations now have multiple copies of the same data, which are most likely out of sync. Just imagine a situation in which data is transferred overnight from SAP ECC to SAP BW. The next morning, the systems will be out of sync. Obviously, this also means that some of the users will be working with outdated data. Finally, the latency issue paired the reporting speed of traditional data warehouses simply doesn’t allow them to be up to par with SAP HANA.

6.  Business process simplifications

This is a rather complex value category and covers multiple scenarios, but all of them ultimately simplify business processes. Let’s start with multi-step transaction flows, which in the old world means multiple transactions and most likely multiple screens per transactions. Of course organizations can custom develop screens and transactions, but if they ever want to combine multiple data-points, for example from different tables with simplified drill downs using today’s standards for UI representation, they will quickly reach limitations. With SAP HANA, it is now much easier (and may I say much faster), to combine multi-step transaction flows and multiple data points onto one screen.

Consider also that SAP HANA is using FIORI, SAP’s HTML5 based UI technology. This web-based approach for the UI will allow users to link information and breeze through processes with unprecedented simplicity.

Speaking of FIORI, it is now possible to use hybrid transactions and analytical processing on the same screen, also referred to as HTAP screens. For example, an organization needs to execute a transaction, but before they can do this, they will need information from a report. Traditionally this means two or more actions, such as retrieving the data and executing the transaction. Now, HTAP screens combine analytical data and transaction execution abilities in one screen.

Are you inspired about what value SAP HANA can provide? Do you feel that SAP HANA is more than just a database? Do you want to identify the right use cases for the six value categories for your company? Dell Services’ conducts HANA Value Workshops. These three-hour educational sessions cover these six value categories in more detail, and review typical use cases.

To schedule a workshop or learn more visit the Dell Services HANA Value Identification page. You can also learn more about specific use cases during our Nov. 12 Webcast on “How to maximize the value of SAP HANA for MRP and Predictive Maintenance.” 

NOTE: This is the first in a series of posts on SAP HANA trends, and how SAP HANA will be changing (and has already changed) the ERP world. Stay tuned for more insight. Throughout the coming months, I look forward to your comments and feedback. You can contact me at

About the Author: Sebastian Gueler