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The SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA was launched in January 2013 to help drive an entire business in real-time for higher business value and dramatically simplify IT for a lower cost. More than 800 companies have already acquired the Suite on HANA just one year after its launch. In this series of blog posts, I will continue to share some of those real-time business experiences and value.

 

In my recent blog posts, I’ve highlighted the experiences of our growing group of Suite on HANA customers, including Florida Crystals, Pacific Drilling, the German Football League, Usha, and Avon Cycles. They’re all transforming their companies into real-time businesses.


Yet, many other organizations struggle to deliver real-time information to their business users. While more than half of companies (57 percent) could provide their cash positions in real-time, far fewer had other types of information at the ready, according to a 2013 survey by the Hackett Group (infographic). Only 43 percent could provide customer information in real time, just 28 percent could deliver supplier data in the moment, and less than a quarter (24 percent) could provide an instant snapshot of financial performance.


We recently dug more deeply into the issue, sponsoring a new report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services titled “Making the Real-Time Enterprise a Reality.”

 

Indeed, in talking to real-time enterprise thought leaders and companies going through real-time transformation, we found that the prospect of becoming a real-time enterprise can seem daunting to some organizations. Certain companies are hesitant to move beyond their current legacy business processes and IT systems.

 

Certainly new technologies—including cloud computing, in-memory technology such as the SAP HANA platform, mobile devices and apps, social networks, and sensors—are enabling companies to innovate faster and with less risk. But it’s not just about real-time technology alone; it’s about real-time transformation. That requires more than new systems, it demands a cultural shift. And it doesn’t happen in a big bang. The real-time transformation is incremental—targeted prototypes and projects, metrics setting and gathering, work and rework—and delivers increasing value over time.


We discovered that what executives need is a blueprint for the real-time enterprise: an end-to-end framework, covering people, processes, data and technology to enable the shift to real-time operations. So we developed a four-step strategy that helps companies to rethink their operations to keep up with today’s dynamic business drivers.


Those companies that embrace such real-time transformation outperform their peers in many areas. A 2013 global survey of 400 large companies by Bain & Company found that firms using advanced analytics were twice as likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industries, three times as likely to execute decisions as intended, twice as likely to use data very frequently when making decisions, and five times as likely to make decisions much faster than market peers. That Hackett Group study found that 70 percent of leading firms—those with mature, tightly-integrated operations—had access to financial, customer and supplier information in near real time, or within one day. Likewise, Accenture found that nearly half of top performing companies deliver key information to business users in real-time (infographic). And those organizations that have embarked on the kind of large-scale integration of people, processes, data and technology required for real-time transformation realize key operational benefits, according to Accenture (infographic): 46 percent capitalize on their customer insights, 63 percent are able to analyze costs and benefits in real-time, and 38 percent deliver critical information across devices.

 

It’s clear that organizations with the most advanced real-time capabilities will win in the data-driven future. And the time to begin the real-time transformation is now.

 

Si-Mohamed Said, Vice President Enterprise Apps and Industries, SAP


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