This past Monday, September 10, SAP EPM joined Business ByDesign, BusinessObjects BI OnDemand, and SuccessFactors in SAP’s Cloud. Sanjay Poonen, President and Corporate Officer, Technology & Innovation Products and Head of Mobile Division at SAP announced the general availability of SAP EPM On Demand on Monday morning at ASUG’s SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Orlando, Florida.
SAP’s EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) suite is a set of business intelligence applications that analyze many facets of company performance for the purposes of planning and forecasting. SAP EPM OnDemand brings three focused financial analysis applications to the cloud: Expense Insight, Real-Time Profit and Loss Analysis, and Capital Project Planning. These focused applications are meant to complement rather than replace SAP’s full on-premise EPM suite.
SAP plans to add more EPM applications to the OnDemand suite on a regular basis. BPC (Business Planning and Consolidation) should be available in the cloud in the next version of EPM OnDemand.
The first version of SAP EPM OnDemand is only available in the United States. Support for some additional countries should begin in early 2013.
Three EPM Applications in the Cloud
Expense Insight is a tool that helps managers to see what has been charged to each cost center they are responsible for and discover the source of budget variances. With a user experience modeled after consumer finance applications from the likes of American Express, Expense Insight also allows managers to dispute charges to their cost center.
Real-Time Profit and Loss Analysis allows executives and managers to view reports on profit and loss data in any level of detail. Users of Real-Time Profit and Loss Analysis can use this tool to identify which products or services are the most profitable across regions, channels, products or customers. This P&L reporting tool is named “Real-Time” because of it’s SAP HANA underpinnings. Not only Real-Time Profit and Loss Analysis, but all the SAP EPM OnDemand applications run on SAP’s in-memory database and analysis platform, SAP HANA, allowing for high-speed analysis of very large data sets.
Capital Project Planning helps decision-makers and financial experts compile information about the cost and rate of return for large projects to help guide decisions about which projects to pursue and when to pursue them. In this app, users can also plan out cash flow details for the length of a project.
EPM Anywhere (with good wireless signal)
One of the main benefits of bringing SAP EPM to the Cloud is easier access from mobile devices. While SAP’s on-premise applications require specific add-ons such as NetWeaver Gateway and the Sybase Unwired Platform or custom programming to enable mobile integration, SAP EPM OnDemand offers mobile connectivity and a mobile app as part of the service. The SAP EPM Unwired client, a hybrid app with an HTML5 wrapper, runs device-specific containers for Apple iOS, Google Android, and Windows Phone 8 and serves as the platform for all current and future SAP EPM mobile apps.
In addition to the mobile client, there are two other ways to access SAP EPM OnDemand. Like most cloud applications, EPM OnDemand may be accessed through a web browser. Users can also access EPM OnDemand through several Microsoft applications, including Microsoft Excel, via the SAP EPM Add-In for Microsoft. This Add-In is already in use for the on-premise version of SAP EPM 10.
Tapping into IT Trends
SAP has incorporated numerous new technologies and trends in IT into the EPM OnDemand product. Perhaps the most obvious of these trends and technologies is Cloud Computing. Via the cloud model, companies can deploy the available EPM OnDemand applications to their users with a much smaller up-front cost than would be necessary for an on-premise implementation.
Closely related to Cloud Computing is mobility. Cloud services are available to mobile devices with an internet connection as well as laptop and desktop computers. SAP, using its new “mobile first” approach, has built the applications of EPM OnDemand with the mobile app model of focused, responsive programs in mind.
For a mobile user flipping between various apps, app speed is extremely important. In order to deliver high speeds to busy mobile users, SAP runs the EPM OnDemand applications on SAP HANA. Powered by this in-memory technology, EPM OnDemand can handle the “big data” of financial information scattered across a company quickly enough to satisfy the heightened sense of urgency experienced by mobile users.
SAP’s EPM OnDemand applications even have a Social element. They can integrate with SAP Streamwork to facilitate collaboration about reports and data from the EPM applications.