SAP HANA Marketplace offers experimental approach

SAP's HANA Marketplace is growing rapidly, having caught the eye of customers and software developers. Startup and veteran companies are using the HANA Cloud Platform to create unique products.

The "try before you buy" trend is nearly everywhere these days -- even in the cloud. The SAP HANA Marketplace, which promotes SAP HANA Cloud Platform offerings, lets customers sample many add-on or vertical applications with just the click of a button and no concerns about security and compliance, thanks to its platform as a service capability.

The ability to safely experiment with applications -- then easily pay for them -- are just two reasons SAP's HANA Marketplace is growing rapidly. Customers now have access to vertical applications in 25 industries, as well as many horizontal choices.

As popular as it is with customers, the marketplace is even more appealing to software developers. Startup and veteran companies alike are creating unique products by using the HANA Cloud Platform. Their offerings are vital, said SAP's David Ludlow, group vice president of solution marketing. "We want to add new capabilities from the HR platform, and we see the value of what the partners are building," he said. "It's all part of our being a mile wide and a mile deep."

One newcomer to the SAP world, Enterprise Jungle, and two longer-term partners, Keytree and Accenture, are examples of what is available today and how the marketplace works.

Making it less of a jungle out there

The ability to safely experiment with applications -- and then easily pay for them -- are just two reasons SAP's HANA Marketplace is growing rapidly.

What if your HR person could find the perfect internal candidate who could actually grow with the job? What if the call center could automatically route a customer to the perfect representative to solve the issue? What if an employee could connect with a long-lost elementary school friend, who just happens to have the same job in a different part of the company?

That's where Enterprise Jungle comes in, said Principal James Sinclair. Using the vast amount of data available within a company and from outside sources including LinkedIn, Zing, Webo and more, Enterprise Jungle is able to make relevant and important connections that can change the way people and companies do business. "Enterprise Jungle can predict and bring to light information that is relevant to you," Sinclair explained. "Here's a group you should join, or a class you should take, or people you should know. It's about building a collaborative work environment."

The product, which has been on the HANA Marketplace for three months, uses hundreds of filters and searches extensively across an organization, looking for both explicit data (college degree, work history, etc.) and implicit data (like career trajectory) to come up with topical and even predictive data. From onboarding to online learning to matching "at risk" employees with a better job opportunity, Sinclair said the product can be used as is by nearly any company. But the company is also working on a number of custom versions for specific lines of business.

Key to Sinclair's ability to focus on the future, though, is the company's presence on the marketplace. "We were out in front of people immediately, and the sales cycle was very small. There is no sales pitch. It's beyond easy to evaluate. For a startup company, this is amazing."

And unlike a lot of other companies offering products in this fashion, Enterprise Jungle was brand-new to SAP, and Sinclair had no previous SAP experience. "To really be a platform, they need indie developers," he said. "And it's a great way to commercialize your product."

Solving a universal problem

Dan McNamara, chief executive of Keytree, spends many working hours in conference rooms because the core of his business is consulting (some of it around the SAP platform). He saw up close how difficult it is to book conference rooms, reserve a hot desk or find a parking place. The HANA Marketplace gave his company the perfect place to launch Matrix, a software-as-a-service platform for resource booking. The product, which went live last week, allows users to reserve meeting rooms or desks on an Android or iOS mobile device, tablet or desktop, as well as create visitor badges, find parking and more. Matrix integrates with Outlook and Exchange and uses an "I-beacon" to ID meeting rooms. "These are simple problems everyone has, and we have found a way to easily solve the problem," he said.

Not only can businesses determine whether conference rooms or spare desks are sufficient -- by tracking their usage via the analytics in Matrix, they also can start to think about ways to tie this solution in with smarter building systems and eventually the Internet of Things, McNamara said.

For a fairly small company, offering Matrix through the marketplace means being able to reach customers on a global scale, McNamara said. "This is a really cost-effective way to develop a product."

Continuing a longtime partnership

It is no surprise Accenture is offering its Audit and Compliance as-a-service app on the HANA Marketplace, given the longstanding relationship of the two companies. It is surprising, to Accenture, at least, how quickly this market is moving, said Nicola Morini, a managing director in Accenture's SAP HANA Practice. "What we thought would happen in two to three years is really happening now" he said.

Companies are more comfortable with cloud computing in general, and the well-known brands, trusted technologies and significant joint investments don't hurt either.

Accenture's application -- which has a five-star rating on the HANA Marketplace -- lets customers start auditing in the cloud in approximately two weeks. Automatic data checking is built in and aimed at reducing human error and overall costs.

Unlike the Keytree or Enterprise Jungle products, Accenture's application is a clear extension of the SAP product line. But even so, Morini said, the marketplace is the right place for the company to be. "Thin hosting of full suites, especially in the cloud, is getting a lot of interest from clients." And Morini doesn't see that changing.

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