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SAP users struggling with data management for S/4HANA migration

UK and Ireland survey reveals difficulties with housekeeping

The majority of UK and Ireland SAP users are finding a lack of preparedness in data management is affecting migrations from SAP ECC 6.0 to SAP S/4HANA and/or a push towards automating business processes.

According to a survey of 116 SAP user organizations, 61 percent said that data management challenges have slowed or will slow the automation of their business processes. Meanwhile, two-thirds (66 percent) state that data management is a challenge when moving from SAP ECC 6.0 to SAP S/4HANA, the study by the UK and Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) found.

The general state of enterprise data housekeeping is exposed when organizations tackle strategic projects, said UKISUG chairman Paul Cooper.

"The validity of your data and what you have, and what you are going to take over to a new platform, it's not the most exciting end of things, so sometimes it does get left a little bit behind. And it's not easy; it's a complicated area," he said.

However, data management was a "key pillar" for an implementation project in moving older generations of SAP's ERP systems, such as SAP ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA, the latest in-memory database system, he said.

One of the biggest challenges was based on too much data residing in older formats.

"If you've not archived or you've not archived in the right areas, you can have an awful lot of data residing in your tables.

"Clearly, when you move to S/4HANA, that table of data structure changes quite a lot. The more data that you've got in your current system, the longer and harder that upgrade is going to be, and potentially the more downtime while you convert that data into the new formats," he said.

At the same time, poor data management was also holding up initiatives in automation, the survey found. "In a manual world, the human brain can provide context but with an algorithm that is behind process automation, if you haven't got accurate data, then it's going to be somewhat challenging to get particularly high rates of successful automation."

Of the SAP users surveyed, 76 percent said their business intelligence and data analytics needs have increased in the last 12 months. When respondents were asked about their most pressing business intelligence requirements, data accuracy and consistency (26 percent), dashboards and visualization (23 percent), and data governance (18 percent) were the most commonly cited.

In terms of analytics systems, 57 percent of SAP users said they were using or planning to use SAP Analytics Cloud. However, Coopers said that many were also taking advantage of specialist analytics platforms such as Snowflake or Amazon Redshift.

The Register has asked SAP to comment. ®

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