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SAP S/4HANA expands from financials to other core ERP functions

SAP will release a new version of S/4HANA that adds manufacturing functions, including inventory; plus, new mobile services for Fiori based on the HANA Cloud Platform.

SAP is releasing a new version of SAP S/4HANA, the ERP suite written for the HANA in-memory database, with expanded functions for core ERP processes. When S/4HANA was released earlier in 2015, it was limited to finance with the Simple Finance application.

Announced at SAP's TechEd conference held recently in Barcelona, Spain, the new update is the first major release of SAP S/4HANA since it was unveiled in February, according to Uwe Grigoleit, the company's global head of business development for strategic innovations.

"We first started with simplifying financial scenarios, and what we are now releasing is a lot of simplifications in the whole manufacturing area of S/4 of the classical ERP system," Grigoleit said. "We have simplified inventory management, inventory variation, manufacturing planning and execution, and procurement sales and distribution."

For financial applications, SAP S/4HANA offers increased efficiencies by replacing multiple transaction screens with interactive cockpits that allow users to reduce cycle times by clearing payments or processing invoices in real time, Grigoleit said. The new functionality in SAP S/4HANA will bring similar real-time processing to other core ERP functions. Users will have much more reliable inventory stocks, for example, by being able to get accurate counts in real time, thus reducing the need for security stock, he said.

"This is a big benefit for customers, because if you can reduce your security stock by a few percent, then it's working capital that you can directly release for other elements," Grigoleit said. "In sales and distribution, you can now work with optimized rebates and schedules to really have customer-specific pricing calculation in real time."

The S/4HANA update is expected to be generally available this month in on-premises and cloud editions. In October, SAP competitor Oracle unveiled a new software as a service ERP suite for discrete manufacturers.

SAP adds mobile capabilities to Fiori

The digital world is getting more mobile all the time. And to help address the needs of mobile users for SAP Fiori apps, the vendor announced SAP Fiori mobile service and Fiori cloud edition, also at the recent TechEd conference in Barcelona.

SAP Fiori mobile service is a new service based on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform that makes it possible for companies to mobilize Fiori apps for any device, said Senthil Krishnapillai, SAP's head of mobile security technologies. It allows companies to build Fiori apps in the device's native format, leading to a better user experience.

"There's the idea of mobile qualities that we can add to the Fiori model without really having to reinvent the whole Fiori architecture and the customizations that customers have done," Krishnapillai said. "We are creating this app service on HANA Cloud Platform that combines a lot of these things together and stitches them in a very cohesive way, so that from an app publisher's standpoint, he simply browses to the Fiori content server and selects the scenarios that he would like to make it into a mobile application. We will walk them through the whole building process."

Fiori is built on the HTML5 Web programming language, which allowed Fiori apps to run on mobile devices as Web apps, but the new, native user experience could be quite different.

"It's what we call a publisher tool, so the apps that are available either through S/4HANA or the Business Suite are available to be mobilized," Krishnapillai said. "The customers can pick and choose which apps to mobilize, but it can be anything like purchasing approval or it can be an analytics app -- anything that's using the Fiori paradigm. It will be a native app in whatever the device OS is and it will have the security, the single sign-on, the certificate -- all of that's built in. It's almost like [using] Facebook, LinkedIn or one of the email apps."

SAP Fiori cloud edition is a HANA Cloud Platform service designed to help users implement Fiori. It comes with a limited number of Fiori apps for lines of business, including human resources, customer relationship management and retail, with functions such as manager approvals and employee self-service tasks.

Fiori mobile service and cloud edition are expected to available by the end of 2015.

Next Steps

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