SAP unveils HANA-powered cloud-based performance management apps

The vendor plans to roll out a series of specialized EPM OnDemand applications in the coming months

SAP on Monday is set to unveil a line of cloud-based EPM (enterprise performance management) applications that run on top of its HANA in-memory database platform.

EPM software is a subset of the broader BI (business intelligence) market, honing in on areas such as planning, forecasting and other financial topics. SAP released a major new version of its EPM suite last year, and in March, made an initial link between HANA and EPM with a new application for budgeting, planning and consolidation.

The new EPM OnDemand applications include capabilities for "expense insight," allowing managers to probe into the details of expenses and fix errors; real-time analysis of profit and loss; and capital project planning, according to a statement.

Many more EPM OnDemand products will be released in coming months, said Bryan Katis, group vice president and general manager for EPM solutions management.

All of the applications will have a "mobile-first" design focus, and are intended to be complementary to SAP's main EPM portfolio, according to David Williams, EPM solution marketing lead. "We're using the 'sun and planets' metaphor," he said.

They will also share a common look and feel with SAP's core EPM software, including the ability for users to work inside a Microsoft Excel interface, Williams said.

Also on tap for mobility is EPM Unwired, a mobile client that will serve as "one launch pad" for all of SAP's EPM software, whether on-demand or on-premises, Katis said.

Unwired is written in HTML5 but will use device-specific containers in order to take advantage of native capabilities. First up is iOS, with Android and Windows Phone in the works.

Mobility has its obvious benefits for some types of applications, especially the CRM (customer relationship management) software used by salespeople, many of whom work on the road.

But there's plenty of reasons why EPM software should get mobilized as well, according to Williams. "One very specific use case in mobile EPM is retail," he said. For example, a retail chain may have hundreds or thousands of store managers who often work on their feet and want an easy way to submit data back to the corporate office, such as a daily sales forecast.

In addition, iPads are becoming ubiquitous among executives, who want fast access to key business data, he added. "Our managers and senior execs all carry iPads. Very few carry laptops anymore," Williams said. "As a manager, you want your battleground KPIs always in front of you"

Pricing for EPM OnDemand will be via per-user, per-month subscriptions. There will be price tiers according to a customer's size. Specific cost figures haven't been finalized yet, according to Katis and Williams.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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