Simpler IT Begins With Hybrid Data Models

Carl Dubler

We hear a lot about simplicity in IT today. It’s a goal that is galvanizing every organization – large, small, commercial, and not-for-profit. Simpler data models, especially in core enterprise resource planning (ERP), should be the beginning of this quest.

Simpler data models in ERP not only help IT departments achieve streamlined IT landscapes; they transform the entire enterprise by fundamentally changing the way we do business. This happens by combining transactions and analytics into a unified, hybrid data model.

Breakthrough technology for database design

For decades, companies dealt with transactional and analytical information separately because database systems could not cope with both types of data. The result is the complex IT landscape we see now: numerous data silos, operational data stores, data warehouses, data cubes, and myriad tools for extracting, transforming, and loading data to feed them.

Now, using in-memory technology and columnar design, databases can handle both transactional and analytical workloads at the same time. Referred to as “Hybrid Transactional and Analytic Processing (HTAP)” by Gartner or “Translytics” by Forrester, these new databases enable a dramatically simpler IT landscape. No redundant systems are needed, and users can perform analytics directly on the transactional data at the source.

A big opportunity to reduce IT costs

All this has far-reaching implications for the IT department. Numerous systems can be consolidated into a single data platform, and cost savings from reduced data storage can be refocused to more strategic areas.

But what does it mean if you work in finance, marketing, supply chain management, or any other line of business? HTAP databases have important implications enterprise-wide.

Whereas analytics were traditionally performed on stale data, the new hybrid databases enable real-time analytics as they’re needed. And because IT staffers no longer must anticipate requirements in advance, users now have unprecedented flexibility in interrogating data to find insights to inform decision making.

Immediate results for the business

The new flexibility, immediacy, and ease with which you can analyze data is already revolutionizing business processes across every function. Finance, for example, can run a “soft close” of the books any time it wants, just to see what will happen. This means finance managers can identify issues early, before the actual close, and provide financial reports on an ad hoc basis.

Supply chain managers can run their material requirements planning (MRP) reports whenever they like, instead of only daily, and perform simulations to gauge the impact on production levels of any drop in supply of a certain component.

Leveraging superior processing capabilities

So far, so good. But simply deploying an HTAP-style database isn’t the end of the story. You also need to ensure that you’re using software that makes the most of what the database offers.

Many database systems have an in-memory option to accelerate queries. This isn’t enough. Applications – ERP in particular, since it is at the core of your business – must be completely redesigned to take advantage of the powerful analytics and superior processing capabilities that an HTAP database can offer.

The new generation of ERP software that is now emerging enables you to connect your enterprise with people, business networks, the Internet of Things, and Big Data in real time, providing live information and insights. The result: a way of working that is more agile, efficient – and simpler than ever.

To learn more about the value that simpler data models can bring to your organization, try our SAP S/4HANA Value Advisor.

Carl Dubler

About Carl Dubler

Carl Dubler is a senior director of Product Marketing for SAP S/4HANA. With an IT career stretching back to the late 1980s, he has done nearly every role in the business. In his ten years at SAP, he also managed SAP’s first commercially available cloud product and first cloud product on SAP HANA.