The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 2, SAP HANA Business Consultant

Hopefully you have enjoyed the SAP HANA Career Guide so far, which kicked off with Part 1, Overview. This piece focusses in on the first specialty: the business consultant.

The Business Consultant

Business consultants analyse the needs of the business and create a strategy to transform businesses, or line of businesses. The essence and principle of this doesn’t change with SAP HANA – indeed it is much of the same. They listen to the needs of the business and the ways in which it must change, and then apply technology concepts against that to create a technology strategy.

For instance I have a customer who has a problem with fraud prevention. The business consultants came up with a solution that enables the business to reduce customer fraud.

Why does SAP HANA change this?

That’s just it: SAP HANA doesn’t change the needs of the business consultant. Instead, it changes the envelope. Let me illustrate how the technology changes the envelope.

I have a customer where we used SAP HANA to accelerate sales order reports within ERP. The approach was to read a bunch of sales order headers, get detail from within, cross reference them against various attributes and exclude a bunch of orders, to produce a report. This requires between 10-20 thousand questions, that SAP asks and takes 30-60 minutes to produce a report.

Now, SAP HANA performs the same as any other database to answer 10-20k small questions. But, with some small changes, we changed 10-20k small questions into one huge question. What happens now? SAP HANA responds in a few short seconds.

Why does that matter?

The answer is, in itself, it doesn’t. However, now we can give these repots to sales execs on the road and they can access them on a mobile device in seconds, giving information about past spend, profitability and other key elements. But even that doesn’t pull the real power of SAP HANA.

The real power is when we move this thinking to whats happening in the moment – let’s take automotive as an example. We can collaborate with a customer to create a quotation with them – price that quotation against very complex pricing structures that exist in complex business models. Even calculating margin on the fly against a car with 10,000 parts. Looking at upstream supply chain visibility to see that removing an option for an automatic gearbox changes the delivery date from 4 months to 1 month. Discounting on the fly based on available stock and the desire to sell particular options.

In this case, the customer experience becomes collaborative and communicative and you can close the deal in the moment, rather than having to come back with a quote the next day and an estimate for delivery 3 weeks later. It’s real, and customers will buy it.

SAP HANA Use Cases

The first thing the business consultant needs to do is to read about SAP HANA use cases and consume them for their industry. They are available for public consumption at Experience SAP HANA and this will begin to cultivate a HANA State of Mind.

The HANA State of Mind

I have written about this before and I see this change in consultants who get immersed in SAP HANA. Once you see the capabilities, you will be able to apply “HANA Thinking” to everyday live. You will see the business possibilities where producing a particular report can reduce costs by millions of dollars a month. Only you thought it wasn’t possible.

Education and Training

Here’s the kicker with SAP HANA Business Consultants – I’m not sure that it can be taught. You have to combine existing Line of Business and Industry expertise with the knowledge of how SAP HANA can disrupt businesses. If you’re good at business consulting already, all you have to do is to understand how SAP HANA can help.

Perhaps I’m wrong here and I’d like to be challenged. Perhaps there is a “Power of SAP HANA” set of webinars, videos or instructional content. What do you think? Is it just a question of repeating a few business scenarios where SAP HANA makes a difference, and business consultants will just “get it”? Let me know.

This entry was posted in HANA, People and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 2, SAP HANA Business Consultant

  1. Pingback: The SAP HANA Career Guide – Part 1, Overview | People, Process & Technology

  2. Virgil Ble says:

    With Hana training a consultant is not complete till encountering real life problems.I would suggest someone with consulting background in any SAP module can be a good candidate for the shift into Big Data/In Memory management (both in front and back end).The most critical skill however in my view lies within the technical field(SQL,Security,BW/BI,ABAP…etc) combined with inside industry subject matter expertise.Now, if SAP Hana is to meet the expectation, a conversion training should be implemented and a” partial blackout” needs to be done (for now) on the certification requirement (which is not very relevant )….It’s the customer satisfaction first,right?? or maybe I’m wrong!!

  3. Thoughtful post.

    I think the concept of “HANA Thinking” is a very real one, and will permeate not only the Business Consultant level, but also the deeper technical layers below.

    Instead of thinking of the database as a separated layer from which to pull data, the HANA state of mind requires that one thinks of the database as the compute engine too. This applies for both greenfield and brownfield SAP sites.

    • John Appleby says:

      I think that’s true and in addition to that, the big thing for technical people is to remember that we write software based on the premise have having a small main memory with a bigger and 1000x slower I/O subsystem. To write in-memory software, you have to remember that you can access all your data at the same (much faster) speed. And you can process it at the same speed, as per your point. It’s quite a thought shift for programmers to go through.

      • Arwel Owen says:

        I think you may be on to something there, John – SAP HANA will certainly force a thought shift in programmers. There may be a danger of becoming lazy under the assumption that all your data is accessible at lightning speed from main memory at all times.

        What would be the impact of exhausting main memory in a HANA environment? Would I be correct to assume that the business impact would be far greater than in a traditional I/O-bound DBMS environment because your users are now expecting data back in real-time. I know that that’s certainly the case for liveCache (HANA’s baby brother!)

        I guess you either pay a vast premium to throw more memory (and HANA licenses) at the problem or you ensure your programmers have understood the HANA thought shift and are programming in a way that guarantees efficient memory use. Get that right and HANA will fly!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s