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You’ve made the plunge to SAP HANA! Congratulations! Now what?

With two small boys, my wife and I recently decided it was time to get a larger car. We knew exactly what we wanted – 3 rows of seats, good gas mileage and state of the art safety features. After reading countless reviews, speaking with others who had similar vehicles and sifting through online literature, we finally made a purchase.

We’ve had the new car for 6 months now and love it! Functionally, it gave us exactly what we needed. Perhaps more importantly, however, are all the capabilities of the car which weren’t part of our buying criteria. Yes, we now have additional space and safety features but the larger vehicle also enabled so much more. We are now considering using the vehicle for towing a camping trailer for family vacations and have used the new vehicle on several occasions for home improvement projects, hauling the Christmas tree home, road trips with other families, etc. It was purchased for pragmatic functionality but enables so much more than we expected.

When I speak to utilities about their journey with SAP HANA, many customers have a similar innovation journey. They are initially drawn to moving their SAP environment to HANA to speed up reporting and transactional processing, reduce database size and streamline their IT footprint. After the transition to HANA, they often begin using the platform as a catalyst for innovation. This is a natural cycle which most of our customers encounter. In McKinsey’s recent article, ‘The digital utility: New opportunities and challenges’1, the concept of the ‘dual speed’ IT department; one which must keep the lights on while also innovating through agile and innovative techniques, is introduced.

I’d like to highlight two innovations stories which have recently caught my attention. In a typical agile fashion, these projects took a matter of weeks to complete from start to finish and quickly gave these utilities a glimpse into the ‘art of the possible’ with HANA.

Innovation Use Case 1 – Fraud Analytics

Fraud is a problem or all utilities, regardless of size or location. A very small subset of ‘creative’ customers can drive up the cost to serve for utilities and in turn, their customer base. Too often, utilities struggle to detect fraudulent scenarios such as scamming the collections cycle or meter tampering. Analyzing very large sets of data to understand trends in the customer base is the first step to identifying and stopping fraud. A large multijurisdictional utility recently engaged SAP to help with this analysis. What once was not possible with legacy reporting tools on standard databases could now be executed quickly and accurately using SAP HANA. Visualizing this massive amount of data from various source systems using embedded geospatial capabilities allowed the utility to understand premises with a high likelihood for fraud. Directly within the geospatial user interface, users were able to create and route work orders for further investigation and follow-up appropriately.

Innovation Use Case 2 – Pipeline Safety

With an increasing emphasis on pipeline safety, gas utilities across the country are developing state-of-the-art methods to understand asset performance and perform predictive maintenance. One such utility worked with SAP to perform their analysis using SAP HANA. Leveraging data from their ERP application, GIS and legacy CIS, they used HANA to analyze the data in real time. This allowed the utility to model a more efficient field workforce, understand assets which may need attention and prioritize the maintenance on these assets based on the potential impact of failure.

These two examples provide a small glimpse into how utilities are leveraging their HANA investment for more than a performant database. Much like my experience with our new car which was initially purchased for its functional purpose, the true value of the investment lies with the potential it enables. Solving often complex, new and high significance business priorities enables users to get the most from their purchase.

What will your use case for innovation be?

Happy innovating,



1Adrian Booth, Niko Mohr, and Peter Peters “The digital utility: New opportunities and challenges” May 2016.
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