On February 9, SAP announced the launch of its next-generation enterprise process application, SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (S/4HANA), in China. This is the third product launch event of SAP globally but it’s the first event during which the product is being launched with customer together.

From my discussions with Chinese customers during the event, I believe that SAP is on the right track to address their major concerns. However, enterprise architecture (EA) professionals in China should take a realistic approach when evaluating the feasibility of the architectural evolution of their enterprise process applications.

  • Chinese clients have suffered from complexity for a long time.As mentioned in my previous report, complexity is one of the key challenges that Chinese companies have faced in their drive to achieve business growth and product innovation, and product innovation must focus on simplicity to enhance customer experiences. This is particularly true when it comes to adopting mission-critical management software. It’s quite normal to hear complaints about the complex user interface, long implementation times, and the significant effort required to maintain and customize software; customization is much more popular and necessary in China than elsewhere due to the need for various types of localization.
  • S/4HANA aims to kill complexity.SAP has refactored the product with a focus on simplicity that covers three dimensions: 1) the database footprint: SAP has redesigned the data model, eliminated large numbers of tables for indexing and aggregation, and consolidated the geographic information system (GIS) into the database for correlation. 2) The user interface (UI): SAP has unified the front end with Fiori. It not only provides an HTML5-based GUI with enhanced ease of use but also leverages a role-based interface design to customize the access of each individual within the company for better manageability. 3) Business agility: Using the in-memory platform as the backbone, SAP has maximized the performance of its business suite and enabled customers to redefine complex business processes and make real-time decisions in a new way.
  • Chinese customers should make a comprehensive evaluation of their needs before rushing to adopt new solutions.It’s relatively easy for users without legacy infrastructure to enjoy the benefits of the latest technology; however, tech management decision-makers in companies with existing management software solutions should take a more cautious approach that focuses on business feasibility and the need for urgency. They should try to answer the following questions to justify any new investment: 1) What’s the difference between my R/3, Business Suite on HANA, and S/4HANA in terms of performance and architecture? 2) Do we need to migrate right now, given that Simple Finance is the first and only functional component available currently? 3) What is my migration path of choice and how should I deal with the customizations we’ve made in recent years, especially those for the tables that won’t exist after the migration?

What do you think about this announcement? And what will you decide to do to drive business agility?