Meet the new SAP
Mark Aboud is the president and managing director of SAP Canada Inc., one of the world’s largest providers of enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence and supply-chain management software, which are increasingly being delivered in the cloud.
SAP, he says, is expanding its portfolio of services and starting to consolidate them, using the cloud as a vehicle. The company is moving beyond ERP, focusing on making backend analytics faster and available in more places, including on mobile devices.
ComputerWorld Canada spoke to Aboud in Toronto this week to find out a bit more about what the “new SAP” will look like.
Below is a selection of his comments [Note: this is an edited transcript].

SAP on…Instant gratification
We now have highly affordable technology to manage gargantuan amounts of data. That’s a big change, that’s a huge change. And a lot of companies spend a lot of money managing a lot of data.
The HANA technology, because of solid state, in columns, none of this relational stuff on top –- it’s just instant access to compressed data that often gives you [several second], or sometimes second or two response times, on an almost linear amount of data.
So that’s a big change. And it’s such a big change that when you say it, people don’t really absorb it. It’s multiple orders of magnitude faster. It’s just completely different.
That is now available. And we’re bringing it to our customers to where speed of a business process results in money. If they can make money, save money, create a competitive advantage, it’s a no brainer, which is why we sold 16 customers on HANA technology without having a single reference. Because, we say, if we apply speed to this business process, [and] give you two-second response time vs. two-day, what does that mean to you?
Well, it means $100,000 a day, or whatever it might be.
I think you’ll see in the next 12 months that the world will start to say, “Wow, this is a different way.” And it won’t solve old problems faster — it will solve new problems that we never thought we could solve before. That’s really the breakthrough.
SAP on…Mobility
When I say to CEOs, “Do you have an iPad?” most of them say yes. And I say, “Can you see your business on your iPad?” And they say, “Well, no.”
“But would you like to?”
“Well, of course, but that’s not possible.”
Well, I can. I’ve got my iPad and I can see my entire business. I can see across Canada: all the regions, all the customers, all the deals, everything, from my iPad, from wherever I am.
People want to have the information served up to them where they are. It’s not just servicing people in front of a computer screen in an office. For the most part, executives like to have either a BlackBerry of an iPad or some mobile device rendering a summary of information [in] real time about their business so they can make real-time business decisions without having to go to some IT person to get some report.
When you think about those two extremes, you’ve got massive amounts of data being crunched, blinding speed, [for] pennies on a dollar previously, and you’re going to put it in the hands of people who can make decisions.
Those two things are changing the value proposition for analytics. And I think those two trends are unstoppable.
SAP on…Supply chain for all sizes
I think that the large companies — some companies they would call themselves supply-chain companies — their differentiation is through supply chain. So supply chain becomes so important that it becomes very unique to them, and there’s business differentiation built into that supply chain and how they do things. It becomes a very strategic weapon for them. And if you’re big, you’re going to control that yourself, you’re going to have staff on it. That’s your secret sauce.
Or supply chain is just something that’s part of your business. And if you’re a smaller business and if it’s not that complicated, then what you need through software is a lot less. It may not be strategic; it may just be meat and potatoes: make sure your products get there on time, [that] you know where they are and stuff. Then you’ve got a lot of different options.
Supply chain to one company isn’t supply chain to another.
We have, obviously, excellent supply chain management software that you can put into a private cloud and run as a service. The actual software can be anywhere. You can have it on-premise, you can put it in a cloud.
We have a new product called ByDesign and it was designed for cloud only. And we have to look to see the extent we bolt on supply chain functionality. But that is, over time, going to be what we do for small to medium enterprise if you want a supply chain management resource kind of thing only in the cloud.

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