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SAP brings what-if analysis to digital boardroom

SAP's new Digital Boardroom uses HANA Cloud Platform for real-time analytics in executive meetings; SAP S/4HANA hits 1,300 customers in 8 months.

SAP unveiled its vision for the future of executive meetings with SAP Digital Boardroom, announced at TechEd in Las Vegas. Built on SAP Cloud for Analytics, SAP Digital Boardroom uses data from SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA Cloud Platform to bring what-if analysis to corporate board meetings.

"Digital Boardroom allows you to access data from any system -- including S/4HANA, SAP HANA Cloud Platform, or any other financial system that you happen to be using -- and it provides you the ability to deliver instant insights to your board members or executive decision makers in a very consistent way," Jayne Landry, SAP global leader for business intelligence, said. "It's designed to work in the boardroom context, where the board is reviewing the results of the organization's performance, and it gives you the ability to see reporting, operations and analytic information. But it also takes it a bit further by bringing in planning and predictive capabilities."

Landry explained that these features provide the ability to do what-if analysis and make predictions as a board meeting is happening, for example, how it will affect your business if you adjust sales in one region or add people to a particular market unit.

Digital Boardroom is built on the new software as a service offering, SAP Cloud for Analytics.

Real-time analytics is a critical advancement for transforming traditional executive gatherings into digital board meetings. "Often in board meetings you come in to the meeting and there's a bit of content and a question comes up, but you have to wait for the next board meeting to be able to answer that question," Landry said. "Now you can answer that question right on the spot."

Digital Boardroom is built on the new software as a service offering, SAP Cloud for Analytics, with subscription-based licensing. The user interface can take advantage of touch-screen capabilities and is available on multiple devices,, including projectors, laptops, wearable items and mobile devices.

Using Cloud for Analytics gives customers the ability to manage Digital Boardroom in various situations, according to Landry. "You can start with the boardroom and the physical ability to be there, but then you can take advantage of Cloud for Analytics to roll out exactly the same information throughout your business," she said. "So your finance team, your HR team or your logistics team are all using the same solution for their planning and for their insight. You can really look to drive the alignment of the organization from the top floor right through to the shop floor."

SAP Digital Boardroom is expected to be generally available later this year.

SAP S/4HANA hits 1,300 customer mark

SAP is happy with its customer base growth for SAP S/4HANA in its first eight months on the market. Launched in February 2015, the next generation, in-memory version of SAP's Business Suite now has more than 1,300 customers, the company announced at its TechEd conference in Las Vegas.

"The digital transformation is now a reality across all industries and requires organizations to rethink business models, processes and IT landscapes by putting simplicity at the heart of everything they do," Robert Enslin, SAP executive board member and president of global customer operations, said in a press release. "This is the value SAP S/4HANA as our digital core brings to help customers disrupt their industry and win in the digital economy."

Hyped as SAP's "most important release in 23 years" when it was announced, S/4HANA aims to solve more complex problems and handle vastly larger amounts of data while at the same time being easier to use and administer. S/4HANA is built on the SAP HANA in-memory platform and employs the tile and app-based SAP Fiori user experience. S/4HANA is available in on-premises, cloud and hybrid versions.

A wide range of customers are now using S/4HANA, according to the company. These include ArcelorMittal, a global steel and mining company; Associated British Ports, the UK's largest ports group; Dabi Atlante, the largest dental equipment manufacturer in Brazil; Deloitte, the global consulting firm; Florida Crystals, the largest global cane sugar refiner; Koelnmesse GmbH, a conference and exhibition center in Cologne, Germany; and Zhejiang Greenco, a Chinese air fluid equipment manufacturer.

SAP has taken steps to make sure that companies can transition to S/4HANA as easily as possible. In July, it announced SAP Activate, an implementation methodology that combines best practices and guided configurations to get customers and partners up and running on S/4HANA quickly. The company also says that 80% of S/4HANA projects are managed by partners who sell the technology and assist customers to plan, implement and run projects. There are currently more than 1,000 S/4HANA reseller firms.

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