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ASUG survey says SAP HANA implementation growing steadily

The 2015 ASUG survey of SAP users indicated that SAP HANA implementation rates are increasing, but SAP needs to be clearer about ROI and migration path.

SAP HANA implementation rates are on the rise, according to a new survey by ASUG (Americas' SAP Users' Group).

The second major survey of SAP users, conducted in September and October, showed that 45% of respondents had purchased HANA, compared with 40% in the 2014 survey. The survey had 1,253 respondents from a variety of industry backgrounds and company sizes.

SAP users had been in a wait-and-see frame of mind for the first five years of HANA, but the platform is proving itself, and the increase in SAP HANA implementation rates reflect this, said Kevin Reilly, ASUG's community advocate for S/4HANA.

"I do think that we're going to see HANA adoption rise over time. It's going to move faster once people start to use HANA underneath their transactional systems instead of just using HANA with their analytics and development systems," Reilly said. "It's now a fairly stable product, and those who used it in the beginning had to both learn the product, as well as pointing out areas where the product needed to be improved, and then waiting for those [improvements] to make it to the development cycle."

Reilly pointed out that this year's survey might paint a more accurate picture than the 2014 survey. "We only had 451 respondents last year, and this year, we're over 1,200, so the survey seems, in effect, more real this year. I think we've got a better selection -- certainly deeper into the organization," he said.

The survey also showed that 76% of those who have implemented HANA have projects underway or planned. Of these, 23% have one or more projects already in production; 22% have them planned and approved, but not yet started; and 31% have projects that have been planned, but not budgeted. Those projects that are underway are, for the most part, going well, as 90% of 388 respondents who had done an SAP HANA implementation reported that their projects met or exceeded expectations. 

SAP needs to get its stories straight

However, the survey also indicated that SAP needs to do some work to convince customers and new users alike to make the investment in HANA. Of the 443 respondents who have not yet implemented it, 58% said it was because they could not find a business case to justify the investment, and 48% named lack of budget to support the move. Multiple issues were accepted for this response. Other reasons for not getting on board included lack of an optimization scenario that requires a HANA implementation; lack of understanding of the HANA roadmap; the need to get caught up on SAP upgrades or enhancement packs before making the move to HANA; and the lack of HANA skills required for an implementation.

Users will tend to adopt if they can point to other implementation success stories, and SAP is trying to get those out, Reilly explained. But such stories will be much more effective if they are shared more or less "organically" by users, rather than coming from the vendor. However, this is starting to happen more as the platform becomes more stable.

"I think those stories are gradually getting out there and people are starting to share with each other. We're seeing webinars, blogs and presentations at the chapter meetings at annual conferences," Reilly said. "It used to be fairly difficult to get someone who'd 'been there, done that, got the T-shirt' and was willing to talk about it, but now, it's getting a little bit easier."

SAP also needs to do a better job of distinguishing its products and explain to users how to get from where they are to HANA. When asked how well they understand the migration path from ECC 6.0 to Business Suite on HANA and S/4HANA, only 32% answered "very well" or "well."

S/4HANA, the version of the SAP ERP suite rewritten for HANA, could be the factor that drives more adoption, but users still seem to be taking a cautious attitude. In the survey, 37% of respondents said they were not sure if S/4HANA had changed their view of migrating from their existing SAP implementation to HANA, while 32% said that it was driving them to invest in HANA in the near term.

More companies may adopt S/4HANA now that SAP has included functionality beyond Simple Finance, Reilly said. "I see S/4 as the replacement for R/3 for ECC, kind of like R/3 replaced R/2, and it's, in effect, the new ERP system," he said. "With S/4HANA release 1511, what we now have is not just the finance model improved and updated, but we have a good bit of the ERP system improved and updated. I think SAP has finally released what is, in effect, a full ERP, and people can now stop wondering what's going to happen next. This is the first release of the rest of it."

SAP said the adoption numbers are significant, but that the main story is how companies are deriving real value right now from HANA investments.

"I think the most important point in the ASUG survey is the notable year-over-year increase in customer adoption of SAP HANA. It's substantial and significant, and I am optimistic it will continue to grow, as customers are deploying HANA in multiple business scenarios versus a single use case," said Steve Lucas, SAP president of the platform solutions group, in a statement. "Regarding organizations who have yet to adopt HANA, SAP has thousands of use cases across dozens of industries that show the power of HANA and how our technology is transforming companies. What matters to us is generating better business outcomes for customers using HANA that they couldn't achieve using legacy database technology, and our customers are achieving record levels of performance by the thousands."

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