Perspective: Why Retailers Should Brace for or Embrace Hurricane HANA
This IDC Retail Insights Perspective provides insight regarding retailers' transition path to SAP HANA benefits. We recently attended SAPPHIRE, SAP's annual conference that is held in conjunction with independent SAP users group. Having preannounced the availability of S/4HANA, there was little groundbreaking at the conference. Rather, the tone was reassuring. The pre-conference analyst event and the conference keynotes made every effort to show how HANA was making successful inroads in the client base and how the platform was a great technology base for digital transformation.
This tone was a smart approach for SAP. Among the customer base and the consulting firms that serve them, the conclusion is clear — HANA is inevitable; the question is, am I bracing for an incremental platform refresh or embracing the capabilities to facilitate real, digitally based business transformation? It should be noted that we are speaking specifically about Suite on HANA or S/4HANA, not the now common BW on HANA or HANA sidecar applications. While these are important proof points for many organizations, the real effort comes with full platform commitment.
The major question for the installed base isn't whether they will make the switch, but when. SAP, to its credit, has extended support for the ECC v6.0 on any database until 2025 so that customers have plenty of runway. Most are opting to make the upgrade in conjunction with major datacenter investments, choosing to keep the upgrade calibrated to the capital investment cycle. However, many customers resent that the enhancements to key modules are happening on HANA and that they won't be able to take advantage of their maintenance spend until they make the move. Also, the upgrade is likely to be much more than a simple technical upgrade, especially when it comes to custom extensions that must be reconciled and either rewritten or eliminated. Most large enterprises have thousands of these customizations, and while it is probably a worthwhile exercise to review them, it is a considerable effort. SAP does provide HANA expert–level assistance in this area.
Please Note: Extended description available upon request.