SAP is betting still more on HANA, announcing at its Sapphire Now + SAP TechEd conference in Madrid that the in-memory database technology will undergird its new foray into customer relationship management (CRM).
The new CRM platform, SAP 360 Customer, will draw in data from front- and back-office operations, mixed with public information from social networks, as a base for offering rapid insights into customer behavior. Companies can use those insights to interact with customers one-on-one through a variety of channels. Ultimately, SAP is positioning the platform as a toolset that allows front-line employees to interact with their company’s marketing, sales and service divisions in a way that helps drive customer interactions to some sort of satisfactory conclusion.
In other words, SAP is challenging Salesforce on the latter’s home turf.
Will HANA prove the decisive advantage when it comes to processing customer data? SAP likes to argue that, by processing voluminous volumes of information in-memory, HANA reduces the latency and infrastructure associated with data analysis. Recent expansions to the technology include HANA Cloud, which will include SAP HANA AppServices for creating applications through a mix of HANA, Java and other services (Java-based applications will come courtesy of SAP NetWeaver Cloud).
HANA powers an ever-larger portion of SAP’s portfolio, from its app-building services to sentiment analysis. That’s attracting attention from its rivals: Microsoft, for example, recently announced a Big Data project it calls “Hekaton,” which will layer in-memory technology into its next major SQL Server release.
Even as SAP finds its core business challenged, it has introduced new initiatives designed to tread on its competitors’ territory. The company recently announced SAP Jam, an enterprise-centric social platform that gives businesses the ability to set up a Facebook-like social network for employees. That’s a shot across the bow to Salesforce, which has also focused on social software—SAP 360 Customer can be seen as yet another swipe.
At the conference, SAP also announced plans to upgrade HANA with support pack stack 5, which will enable integrated application services and offer new features such as integrated text analytics.