After SAP HANA, What’s The Next Windfall for the Wholesale Distribution Industry?

SAP introduced the in-memory HANA database technology at the end of 2012 to the thrill of ERP users worldwide. In particular, it has revolutionized the way that the wholesale distribution industry manages data. Now, calculations that previously took hours to process can be completed in a matter of minutes or even seconds.

Thanks to HANA, wholesale distribution users no longer have to move transactional data into a data warehouses to be analyzed. With HANA’s user-friendly tools based on UI5, users can get access to real-time insights from any device. These backend optimizations have become a staple in any successful wholesale operation.

So what is the next bottleneck that the wholesale distribution industry needs to tackle? The frontend.

Wholesale Distribution is somewhat unique in that order management and customer service are highly reactive processes, and their smooth management can make the difference between success and failure. Disruptions can cause customer service queues or order processing to back up, with customers having to wait on service while the wholesaler struggles to match the speed and direction of requests.

Unfortunately the tools available today do not address this issue. While user interfaces have become generally prettier to look at, there haven’t been many strides in making them more efficient in the improving response times. Many SAP users try to make due by adapting the SAPGUI due to the sub-second response capability, but that often isn’t enough. Until SAP provides a frond end UI that can deliver the same (or better) performance, wholesalers will be reluctant to look at alternatives like SAP Fiori or other UI5 based user interfaces.

To mitigate this issue, itelligence and many other partners have developed their own front end applications. Based primarily on ABAP dynpro, these front end applications are able to provide flexible order management cockpits to their customer base. Unfortunately, these solutions are purpose build and don’t perfectly fit in with the rest of SAP’s UI strategy.

At the end of the day, it is up to wholesale distribution industry groups, like ASUG, to demand a front end UI from SAP that matches the lighting speed of the backend system.

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