SAP BW/4HANA enables companies to consolidate data across departments and obtain a consistent, coordinated view of it. In practice, however, the on-premise solution is not yet widespread. Many companies are waiting to implement it, or apparently have no intention of switching to SAP BW/4HANA.
DSAG sees various reasons
Possible reasons for this reluctance are discussed by the German-speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) in the “DSAG Position Paper BW/4HANA”. The DSAG sees strategic uncertainty as a key factor in the hesitant attitude of companies when it comes to SAP BW/4HANA. It is not clear to companies what role SAP BW/4HANA plays in SAP’s long-term strategy for data warehousing. What’s the reason for this? On the one hand, operational reporting is being expanded in SAP S/4HANA, and on the other, there are solutions such as SAP Data Intelligence and SAP Data Warehouse Cloud whose functionalities overlap with SAP BW/4HANA.
Doubts about the future viability of SAP BW/4HANA
From DSAG’s point of view, other factors also raise at least some doubts among companies about the future viability of SAP BW/4HANA. As a pure cloud product, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud seems to fit better with SAP’s general orientation, which in future will drive the topic of cloud even more clearly than before. There are no real innovations on the SAP BW/4HANA roadmap, but rather selective further developments.
In addition, SAP has not yet made a clear statement regarding the positioning of SAP BW/4HANA. From DSAG’s point of view, however, this is precisely what is needed to counteract the existing uncertainty. The “DSAG Position Paper BW/4HANA” argues that SAP must provide answers as to how the various analytical products are positioned in relation to each other, whether SAP Data Warehouse Cloud will be the successor to SAP BW/4HANA in the long term, and how SAP solutions relate to non-SAP applications.
More options mean more possibilities
However, the fact that SAP has several options for data warehousing in its portfolio also offers opportunities for SAP customers, according to Loren Heilig, managing director of IBsolution: “The time has come for companies to put their BW architecture to the test and say goodbye to pure on-premise landscapes. With SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and the various front-end tools, SAP is uniting different solutions on one platform, allowing companies to combine different tools instead of simply migrating their BW 7.x system.”
And this is where cloud solutions play to their strengths. For example, the effort required for system connectivity and data modeling is significantly lower for SAP Data Warehouse Cloud than for SAP BW. “In the future, it will be less a matter of committing to a specific solution and more a question of how the existing tools can be combined in the best possible way to meet a company’s specific business requirements,” explains Loren Heilig.
Innovations as a confidence-building measure?
What could strengthen the trust of SAP BW/4HANA from the DSAG perspective is the implementation of innovations and additional functionalities. The authors of the position paper see an urgent need for action, among other things, in the creation of a uniform development environment, the integration of a dedicated front end, the possibility of joint data modeling between IT and business, an out-of-the-box solution for handling semistructured data such as JSON and XML, and the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
In addition, DSAG sees the licenses as a lever to overcome investment fatigue when it comes to SAP BW/4HANA. The German-speaking SAP user group criticizes that the licensing model of SAP BW/4HANA is not consistent in itself, that a front-end license is missing and that planning requires another license. DSAG is therefore calling on SAP to make the SAP BW/4HANA licensing model simpler, more transparent and more reliable.
Companies want security
Only when companies feel they have received a satisfactory answer to this question will they overcome their reluctance to switch to SAP BW/4HANA, in DSAG’s view. It is about the certainty that investments made are secure in the long term and that SAP BW/4HANA will continue to play a central role as an on-premise solution in SAP’s data warehouse concept in the future.
For Loren Heilig, it is clear that companies should lose no time in setting the course for the future in terms of reporting, analytics and planning: “In principle, there is nothing to be said against continuing with SAP BW 7.5 until 2027 or 2030. However, by doing so, you are leaving unused the enormous potential that arises from the multitude of business intelligence tools that are now available. I am thinking, for example, of the possibility of combining different data warehouses and making not only financial and logistics data, but also marketing and CRM data available for reporting through the simplified integration of systems. My recommendation is therefore to already familiarize oneself with the new tools as well as the associated opportunities and, on this basis, to set up a powerful BI landscape that optimally fits the requirements of the respective company.”