Today’s business world is extremely dynamic and subject to constant change, with companies continuously under great pressure to innovate. SAP HANA’s vision is to provide a platform that can be used to influence all business processes within a company’s value chain in real time. However, what does this key term real time mean for business applications?
In technological terms, it describes, in particular, the availability of essential functions without unwanted delays. The environment in which a technology is used and the time when this occurs strongly influences the functions needed and what is deemed to be an acceptable delay. Before we discuss the software currently used for enterprise management, we wish to illustrate this using an example from daily life, namely telecommunications. Early forms of communication (for example, telegraphs) were very limited in terms of their usage (range, availability, and manual effort). At that time, however, it was an immense improvement in terms of the speed at which messages were previously exchanged. Then, with advent of the telephone, it became possible to establish flexible connections over long distances. Once again, however, users of this technology had to allow for various delays. Initially, it was necessary to establish a manual connection via a switchboard. Later, and for a very long time after, there were considerable latencies with overseas connections, which affected and complicated long-distance telephone conversations. Today, however, telephone connections can be established almost anywhere in the world and done so without any notable delay. Essentially, every leap in evolution has been associated with considerable improvement in terms of real-time quality.
In addition to a (synchronous) conversation between two people, asynchronous forms of communication have always played a role historically (for example, postal communication). In this context, the term real time has a different meaning because neither the sender nor the receiver needs to actively wait. Asynchronous communication has also undergone immense changes in recent years (thanks to many new variants such as email, SMS, and so on), which, unlike postal mail, facilitates a new dimension of real-time communication between several people. Furthermore, there is an increasing number of non-human communication users such as devices with an Internet connection, which are known as smart devices (for example, intelligent electricity meters).
Most people will testify to the fact that, nowadays, electronic communication is available in real time. Nevertheless, in our daily lives, some things still cannot occur in real time despite the many advances in technology (for example, booking a connecting flight during a trip). It is safe to say that in the future, many as yet inconceivable scenarios will be so widespread that currently accepted limitations will become completely unacceptable.The above example of telecommunications technology contains some basic principles that can also be applied to business software. On the one hand, there are corporate and economic developments such as globalization and the increasing mobility of customers, and employees who are the driving forces for new types of technology. Companies operate globally and interact in complex networks. Furthermore, customers and employees expect to be able to access products and services at all times, from anywhere in the world.