We talk a lot about the incremental IT improvements that customers can make, but sometimes, a more dramatic game-changer emerges. SAP HANA is shaping up to offer some outstanding opportunities – but it certainly doesn’t come without challenges, not least, what to run it on.

The saturation marketing should have tipped you off that SAP consider this release to be especially significant. Not without reason. Some early adopters have already achieved an impressive level of disruption in their markets.

The big deal about HANA is the way businesses can get so deep an understanding about their organisations, their markets and their customers – almost before the customers know it themselves. In fact, the degree of predictive analytics that is now possible allows for an almost uncanny ability to read business futures.

All that data that organisations have been storing – either for legal compliance or because of good practice – is now coming into its own. When it is combined with external data, it becomes even more powerful. For example, the analytics-savvy food retailer that can use historic information about buyer behaviour, changing population statistics, and weather forecasts to know how many frozen treats to store in its freezers at each location. The amount of product wasted is minimised, marketing programs can be better targeted, and margins edge upwards.

There are many examples of how analytics, done well, can increase efficiency and give an astonishing level of insight. What the real winners have in common is their ability to get insights in real time. Put simply, SAP HANA requires some serious infrastructure to do its job as intended. For that reason, it is not an overnight turnaround.

The star performer in benchmark tests has been IBM Power Systems, which has outpaced other options comprehensively. It can perform more actions per core simultaneously than, say, an x86 machine, by a factor of around 8 to 1. Or to put it in practical terms, the food retailer mentioned above will have stocked its shelves with hot chocolate before its competitors have finished reading the forecast predicting snow. The businesses that have analytics sorted are already blowing away their competition.

Given the level of SAP HANA investment, it pays to establish infrastructure that can cope with some huge demands. Probably one of the surprises, when you factor in SAP HANA’s per-Terabyte licensing, is that Power competes well on cost. Getting it right does take some planning, although with the right experience, it doesn’t have to be painful.

The knock-on effects are worth it – logistics reports in moments, marketing teams able to perform their own queries unaided. When you consider the business outcomes we are already seeing, putting some Power into the SAP HANA equation could be a very smart move.

For more about analytics and IBM Power Systems, contact the friendly Computer Merchants experts.

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