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It's 2017 so SAP's added a Siri clone and machine learning to ERP

S/4HANA 'Cloud' now comes with vertical editions, but not notably more cloud

By Simon Sharwood, 10 Feb 2017

SAP has updated the cloud edition of its in-memory S/4HANA ERP suite and tacked the word “Cloud” onto the end of its name.

The new S/4HANA CLOUD is a little mis-named as the previous version of S/4HANA could already run in the cloud (since 2015, thanks for asking) and SAP would happily sell you a subscription to the software, as is the way in the cloud.

What's new this time around is editions for different vertical industries, among them finance, professional services and enterprise management.

All have received a nice annual upgrade that adds project management capabilities and lots of little tweaks. 2017's must-have items – a Siri clone and machine intelligence – have been added, too. The latter means the apps can do things like recognise different invoices come from the same supplier. There's also a Siri-like “SAP CoPilot” which one can ask to do things like produce lists of recent interactions with a particular customer. For now CoPilot needs you to type queries. SAP says CoPilot needs to work on its listening skills: voice queries will arrive “eventually”.

Another thing all the cool kids are doing this year is continuous integration and it looks like SAP has decided to join in because S/4HANA CLOUD is going to get quarterly updates. Some of those will add vertical editions. New functions also look to be on the agenda.

SAP reckons that by year's end, it will have the best cloud ERP money can buy, at least in S/4HANA CLOUD's target market of 1,500-seat plus implementations. That assertion comes from the company's belief its vertical editions will offer exceptionally fine business processes, plus its faith in its one-humongous-columnar-data-store-in-memory arrangement, versus the presumably legacy-based lots-of-tables approach used by some rivals.

SAP operates its own cloud to run S/4HANA CLOUD. Or you can choose to run ye olde SAP S/4HANA on-premises. The latter requires you buy and operate the moderately-exotic and replete-with-RAM servers certified for HANA. ®

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