SAP S/4 HANA is SAP's latest, and most powerful, ERP software suite. It is designed to take full advantage of the HANA platform, a lightning-fast in-memory database supporting accelerated, real-time processes. S/4 HANA also features the responsive, role-based Fiori interface for a streamlined user experience that saves time while adapting instantly to any device or screen size. Granted, some enterprises may find getting started with S/4 HANA, or making the transition from SAP Business Suite, slightly intimidating. Yet there are feasible deployment options, as well as ERP transition specialists, available to help enterprises make the leap.
SAP S/4 HANA
S/4 HANA officially launched with both an on-premise and cloud solution in February, 2015. Forbes called it SAP's "biggest update in over two decades." The on-premise solution launched with all, or nearly all, of the scope and functionality found in SAP Business Suite, and continues to expand its feature set. Although SAP's latest cloud solution does not have the same breadth of options that the on-premise solution does, it nonetheless features affordable, fast implementation times and optimal scalability. SAP describes S/4 HANA Cloud as their "next generation cloud ERP suite." SAP also offers hybrid deployment options.
Distinction between SAP HANA and SAP S/4 HANA
It's easy to confuse these two related, but entirely different, aspects of the SAP family of offerings. The HANA platform, or simply HANA, is SAP's latest database, noted for the remarkable performance generated by its in-memory architecture. It is not an ERP software solution. S/4 HANA, on the other hand, is the latest ERP software suite from SAP. The connection between the two is that SAP specifically designed their S/4 HANA ERP solution to run on the HANA platform in order take full advantage of the speed, and other benefits, that the in-memory database provides.
SAP Fiori User Experience
SAP Fiori is SAP's latest user interface, introduced in May 2013, aimed at providing the simplicity, intuitiveness and usability expected from today's user. Its primary advantages over the former SAP GUI found in SAP Business Suite include its responsive, role-based, personalized design and its support for open-standards.
Fiori uses responsive design, meaning that the interface will instantly adapt to the user's device, whether it's a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. For example, if you're accessing your SAP dashboard on a smartphone, the interface will instantly transform its menus and options for optimal viewing and tapping on a small screen.
While the SAP interface in SAP Business Suite is transaction-based, Fiori is role-based. The result is fewer screens and fields, reducing time spent switching screens and entering data.
In order to more easily adapt to the latest UX improvements in the industry, Fiori also supports open standards. Moreover, SAP separated the Fiori UX from the back-end logic, which further enhances its adaptability.
Switching to S/4 HANA
For those already running SAP Business Suite, there is a clear upgrade path to S/4 HANA to take full advantage of features such as the lightning-fast HANA platform, the responsive SAP Fiori interface, and full-text search. As with any ERP transition or implementation, enterprises will need to make the critical choice between the big bang and phased roll-out implementation strategies. SAP has their own terminology for the various deployment options: fresh installation (aka "the greenfield approach"), system conversion (aka "the brownfield approach), and landscape transformation. The choice of implementation strategy will rest largely on the size and scope of the enterprise, as well as its current platform.
Making the Decision
SAP's sophisticated response to the demands of the digital age is clearly SAP S/4 HANA. Optimized to run on the HANA platform, S/4 HANA benefits from an in-memory database with a small data footprint and accelerated, real-time performance. The S/4 HANA interface also has an entirely new look and feel. The responsive, role-based Fiori UI provides faster, more intuitive navigation, while instantly adapting itself to any device or screen size. Yet getting started with S/4 HANA, or switching from SAP Business Suite, is not easily done alone. It's always a good idea to seek the guidance of an ERP specialist for a smooth, painless transition.
Your SAP Journey
For companies committed to realizing the potential of their data, the time is now to make sure your SAP systems are set up for success, no matter what state they may currently be in.
Regardless of where you are in your SAP journey today, it’s up to you to make sure that things are running as simple and seamlessly as possible. Are you standing still or are you committed to taking the first steps?
Read our helpful guide on how your SAP journey can go from point A to point B – and onward to your final destination – today