SAP’s technology stack is expansive and powerful, but at the same time it can also be complex and overwhelming. The last decade or so of in-house platform developments and augmentations, combined with acquisitions and innovations, have produced a comprehensive data platform that needs some careful navigating to bring it online in a productive manner.

Yet SAP HANA’s breadth hasn’t deterred some multinational companies such as Toyota. This year, the Japan-headquartered automotive manufacturer selected SAP S/4HANA and the SAP HANA business data platform to move its business into the future.

Centralized Information Sharing

Toyota’s use case is defined by its size. The firm chose SAP HANA to help regulate the group’s accounting system so it’s in line with global standards.

But what shape did this deployment take? Don’t think it will affect only the Toyota IT department. Nor the Toyota data channel. And it’s not just relevant to Toyota’s network of intelligent, database-driven business systems. Instead, imagine what Toyota has referred to as a “centralized information-sharing system” that connects the company’s supply chain and go-to-market operations around the globe.

“As a global leader in automotive manufacturing, we turned to SAP to help us build the infrastructure of Toyota’s new company-wide accounting information system. We are excited to reap the benefits of faster response times to growth strategy decisions and latent and future risks in our business,” said Hiroaki Kitazawa, Toyota executive general manager and field general manager of the firm’s Information Systems Group.

A Steady Diet of Transactional and Analytical Data

Toyota Group is now working to implement SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA to perform core functions such as high-speed bill of materials (BoM) processing. It will operate both transactional and analytical data processing in real time on a single platform, because that’s what SAP HANA has always been built for. Toyota will also work to build its own software applications on the SAP HANA platform.

“We are confident that with the integrated use of both SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA, Toyota Group will see improvements in the range, volume, and speed of information management,” said Yuzuru Fukuda, president and representative director, SAP Japan.

Russian Turkey Drumsticks

Question: How do you get from Japanese internal combustion engines to Russian turkey in one easy step? Answer: Stay with SAP HANA uses cases and the connection is quite natural.

X5 Retail Group, a Russia-based food retailer, is also moving to run on SAP S/4HANA. According to Fabricio Granja, CIO at X5 Retail Group, his company is opening an average of eight retail stores a day. That’s a lot of turkey drumsticks, on top of the 49,999 other products the retailer also sells.

Tracking Changing Tastes and Preferences

X5 is now using SAP S/4HANA to decide where to open its three different types of stores (proximity stores, supermarkets, and hypermarkets) and which of its 50,000 products these stores should carry based on customer preferences by neighborhood. Russia is a big country, so regional customs, tastes, preferences, and turkey recipes vary more widely than you might imagine.

“Without having SAP, we would never be able to support our growth,” said Granja. “Every new store brings millions of new data records. Knowing how to use this data and the speed of bringing it back to the customer for a new view… that’s some of the analysis we do using [SAP].”

SAP S/4HANA and the Switch from B2B to B2C

Other high-profile SAP HANA use cases coming to light in 2018 include the American Hotel Register Company, which used data analytics visualizations to start selling to a new consumer-based audience. Doing that has required the company to upgrade its e-commerce system and connect siloed data across the organization. On top of these improvements, American Hotel Register Company is looking for ways to bring in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA) to better understand which products appeal most to customers.

Jumping back to food suppliers, Tyson Foods is a $40 billion company that has transformed to a digital platform on SAP S/4HANA. While conceding that business is more complex today as lines blur between consumer-facing, retail, and wholesale industries, Scott Spradley, executive vice president and CTO at Tyson Foods, said people are also more predictable.

“Millennials and Gen Z are more informed. They’re normalized around a one-click customer experience. They get things fast. They do less research, but are very well-informed and know what they want,” he said. “The question is, will the food consumer become the direct buyer… big food brokerages could experience disruption, and we have to be ready. That’s part of the reason for our SAP S/4HANA implementation—getting ready for when that day comes.”

Sweet to Serious Use Cases

Don Wittington, retired CIO of Florida Crystals, said the company’s long-time co-innovation partnership with SAP was instrumental in transforming to become the world’s largest cane sugar refiner.

If this smorgasbord of use cases suggests anything, it is SAP HANA’s suitability for solving a nearly infinite variety of business challenges, even more serious and significant ones. For example, Moderna Therapeutics is using SAP technologies to help control its development of personalized cancer vaccine developments that use artificial intelligence to build targeted medications.

What’s Next for SAP S/4HANA?

Most of the business cases mentioned here are using their new technology platform to diversify and broaden themselves. As of Q2 2018, SAP reports 8,900 customers who have licensed SAP S/4HANA, though many of these customers are not live yet. The last time ASUG reported on this in February 2018, the public number was 1,500 live customers. That’s quite a gap between customers who have purchased this technology and those who have implemented it.

As a result, we expect to see SAP S/4HANA put to an even broader range of applications as more companies adopt it. We’ll keep our eye on that use-case smorgasbord as it expands.

Want to know how others are using SAP S/HANA? Read our customer story with the CIO of Hunter Douglas. You can also join us for one of our day-long ASUG Express events on SAP S/4HANA in a city near you. Or if you’ll be at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, you can join us for a deep dive into SAP S/4HANA at an ASUG Pre-Conference Session.