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Time for Reinvention of SAP CRM

Marcin TkaczykCustomer Relationship Management software, including SAP CRM, consists of Sales, Service, Marketing, and eCommerce key components. It was originally built to control the relationship with the Customer, however today for many companies, who do not keep up with the new emerging technology and changing customer behaviour, it becomes more of Customer Records Management rather than a toolset to analyse, predict, interact and generate income in omnichannel environment.

Most likely for this reason SAP is coming up with the new redefined SAP CRM concept, that adds up new value and redefinition of current CRM processes, that is better integrated not only within the company, but mostly with the outside world, and - what might be of particular interest for the midsize market – gives an opportunity for a cost-effective cloud model delivery.

The new SAP approach is based on the following main offerings:
• SAP HANA Platform with the on the run, real-time high volume analytics, applicable mainly to Multichannel Customer Interaction, Sales and Marketing
• SAP Hybris Profile, which will allow to capture customer interaction and behaviour, in order to create dynamic Customer Profile (will become available first quarter 2016)
• SAP Hybris Customer Experience (CX) with omnichannel functions, including visual contextualization of the customer behaviour
• SAP YaaS service architecture, which is based on HANA cloud platform and is designed to be the modular business microservices layer for the planned SAP Hybris front office (available in October 2015).

New Version of Predictive Analytics Released

Marcin TkaczykSAP has released the latest version of Predictive Analytics (2.2), with improvements and a couple of new features, which include better automation (Automated Analytics) and more expert tools (Expert Analytics).

The new version includes:
• Possibility to use the latest R libraries (3.1.2 as latest supported version)
• Automated Predictive Library, including automated recommendations and new operations (RECOMMEND and PUBLISH MODEL)
• Predefined HANA views with access to BW on HANA data
• Multiple charts in offline mode
• Sharing of custom components, including R and PAL
• Use of BW on HANA data sources in modelling
• Expert Analytics: train Auto Clustering and HANA Auto Clustering without a target variable
• Model performance comparison tools – comparing performance between components of an analysis to identify the best one.

SAP Predictive Analytics is a statistical analysis and data mining solution that enables you to build predictive models to discover hidden insights and relationships in your data, from which you can make predictions about future events. Combines SAP InfiniteInsight and SAP Predictive Analysis in a single desktop installation and includes two toolsets: Automated Analytics and Expert Analytics.

Increasing Complexity of Integration and its Future

Marcin TkaczykMany companies struggle to choose best integration options while communicating with other systems and data sources, both inside the enterprise and with third parties residing outside. Moreover, with SAP systems in the landscape, it is common practice to leave many of the data and software not being integrated at all, which results in poorer overall automation and missed opportunities for optimisation.

There is no one best option for integrating SAP systems with other applications, including other SAP systems, in the enterprise. It depends on the type of application and its nature. There are most commonly used techniques that proved to be effective. For SAP to SAP systems, it depends on the type of the stack, usually it may be as easy as ALE with IDOC, ABAP connector and RFC calls (ABAP to ABAP), or JCo and RFC (ABAP to Java and Java to ABAP). For SAP to non-SAP, most common is SOAP with web services (structured XML over the web), ALE, REST. As a middleware it is often PI systems, or ABAP Gateway. It is not all, especially with new HANA capabilities. Pretty much all SAP systems can communicate or can be extended with Java, Python or use .NET connectors. In this way we often have not one but a few alternatives and a dilemma of what to choose.

Finding the best option does not always mean the most robust. There are several factors that may influence the choice - they will be primarily investigated with regard to effectiveness, reliability, scalability, as well as financial aspects, skillset available, and finally personal sentiment, or let’s call it other human factors.

Growing complexity of enterprise IT landscape in recent years is mainly due to increased number of diverse points it has to integrate with. It is often becoming a jungle of all sorts of connections and interfaces. And it looks like there is little chance to stop it growing, or at least new demands and processes will overshadow standardisation of current solutions. What are key players in the years to come? We would mainly indicate: mobile solutions, cloud, big data with complex analytics, social media, and BYOD.

SAP S4/HANA

Marcin TkaczykOfficial release of the new generation ERP was finally announced on February 3, 2015. Called SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (or, in short S4/HANA), is the fourth generation enterprise software suite, after R/2, R/3 and ERP - thus number 4. The 'S' stands actually not for SAP, only for 'Simple' .

We already embarked on this exciting journey a while ago, while getting in touch with the HANA capabilities being offered as part of the products existing so far, and representing not only a pure database, but also serving as an application part, as well as a user interface frontend.

It would be very interesting to get familiar with benchmarks, which will hopefully be released for the first focus areas - sFinanse and sLogistics - and compare them with the existing SAP applications which are already based on the HANA database.

What are the key advantages of this innovative step forward ...

2014 Summary

Marcin TkaczykLast year was very successful for our small company and its customers. Main project has been delivered on time, and went live mid-year, followed by after go-live support and optimisation. It was first time that the Team has been working with the HANA database, and gained this way a unique experience – including HANA capabilities as an application server replacing slower ABAP systems in more complex or time consuming processes. We also started an internal project to deliver a web based product, integrated with SAP systems.

Focus for next months and the year 2015 will include:
• Follow up with our current customer on the maintenance and further extensions of CRM on HANA, and CRM on DB6
• First prototype of the internal project by the end of April, and start of the test phase
• Redesign and the re-write of the current company website according to the latest technology and available engines/frameworks (GWT, Hibernate and Spring; optionally bootstrap).

We also wish all the best for the SAP Community in 2015, many challenging projects and successful implementations !