IT technology before ERP content
A technical discourse has dominated the SAP community for years, stealing resources and attention away from business challenges. At this year’s Sapphire in Barcelona, instead of discussing new types of organization and business management, Christian Klein addressed the question of when public cloud will reach its final stage.
Supply Chain Planning
Supply chain management and the associated logistics, scheduling and material requirements planning are a key and decisive challenge for every trading and production company. From a business and organizational perspective, SAP created APO, Advanced Planner and Optimizer, a much-celebrated innovation here very early on. SAP APO became the standard in many industries.
I have an interesting and instructive anecdote to share about the APO innovation: APO was programmed correctly, but due to the sheer volume of data it needed to process and the rather weak hardware at the time, it was also extremely slow. So it was not out of the ordinary that an MRP run process was completed only after production was already meant to have started. Professor Hasso Plattner (one of SAP’S founders) then gave APO its own internal database, which was completely stored in the computer’s main memory—this trick then accelerated APO many times over. This also means, however, that Hana is not SAP’s first in-memory computing database.
From APO to IBP
SAP discontinued APO and introduced Integrated Business Planning (IBP). A much acclaimed and praised supply chain planning product. Now, instead of celebrating and customizing this business and organizational innovation, SAP is offering the IBP product exclusively in the cloud, sparking a technical cloud discussion. In the past, with a product like IBP, SAP would have organized business symposiums on the new logistics. Today, SAP is discussing the technical circumstance of whether to give preference to a private or public cloud. Under the leadership of SAP CEO Christian Klein, the focus has shifted from business administration (digitization) to technology such as cloud computing, in-memory computing, and business technology platforms.
The environment, resources, and sustainability are key issues in the current economy. In the past, SAP would have developed algorithms, i.e., standard business software, and not have given a second thought to which operating system, database, and hardware this solution would require. In Barcelona at this year’s Sapphire trade fair, SAP CEO Christian Klein presented a Green Leger for Sustainability with the discreet hint that it will only be available for cloud customers. For SAP, the technical operating model seems to be of much more importance than standard business solutions—and this is a betrayal of the original ERP ideals.
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