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Will SAP HANA’s Big Data Usher SAP into the Intelligent BPM Elite?

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: May 6 2014

SAP recently announced a new intelligent business operations bundle that aims to help organizations infuse big data insights in real time into their processes to work smarter and improve responsiveness to threats and opportunities. The real value of big data only comes when one can embed its insights into business processes and use these insights to make better decisions. Business users all too often lack full visibility into end-to-end operations to improve decision making and to take corrective actions when or even before issues occur.
 
Today's organizations accumulate massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from business applications, machines, social media, and more. They need to sort through high volumes of events and/or complicated patterns to properly respond. Yet, they are challenged to exploit the value of this information within the context of end-to-end processes such as procure to pay, order to cash, idea to offering, and plan to inventory, among others. Many organizations struggle to have a single view of their processes and make use of big data in a way that empowers line-of-business (LoB) users to improve their operations.
 
Intelligent Business Operations Bundle
The new intelligent business bundle is focused on "real time insight to action" according to SAP—complete upstream and downstream visibility among process documentation, implementation, execution, and analysis/monitoring by sharing common standards-based process, data, and interface models. The offering is based on the SAP HANA platform, supports heterogeneous integration across non-SAP and SAP systems, and combines the following tools:
 
  • SAP Operational Process Intelligence software for analyzing large volumes of process data that can come from any data source.
  • SAP Process Orchestration software for implementation and dynamic, rules-based execution of business processes that can span multiple applications in heterogeneous system landscapes. The product is now natively running on SAP HANA as a database platform—and still supports other relational databases as per SAP's Product Availability Matrix (PAM), which can be found on SAP Services Marketplace
  • SAP Event Stream Processor for gathering events from legacy IT systems, along with social feeds, unstructured events, and any kind of data source, and correlating them to aggregate and filter complex events that are meaningful to business processes.
  • SAP PowerDesigner software for enterprise-wide process modeling and documentation. The tool now supports SAP BPM as well as SAP HANA in relation to process and data modeling.
 
The intelligent business operations bundle from SAP aims to address the aforementioned common LoB user challenges. For example, the solution can provide real-time predictive insights into the order-to-cash process at a line-item level and send alerts whenever key performance indicators (KPIs) are in danger of being breached, often helping to resolve fulfillment issues before they occur.
 
Change of the Process Modeling Guard
 
For a long time, the business process modeling standard for many SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) users has been ARIS by IDS Scheer (now Software AG), with deep connections to SAP NetWeaver and SAP Solution Manager. But now with the advent of SAP HANA, PowerDesigner is SAP's strategic modeling tool of choice, supporting business process modeling fully with BPMN 2.x support, data modeling, and enterprise architecture capabilities. PowerDesigner is now freely available to educational institutions through SAP University Alliances.
 
For existing customers of SAP who purchased ARIS through SAP, there is a policy in place to enable them to convert their investments in software licenses to SAP PowerDesigner. Existing SAP customers currently using ARIS that was supplied as a software license by SAP will still be supported through SAP standard support.
 
SAP still has lots of catching up to do to become an intelligent business process management (iBPM) leader like IBM, Pegasystems, and Appian, but those vendors should take note of SAP’s forays, especially in light of having lots of SAP ERP customers that SAP would like to bring back into its BPM fold.
 
 
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