SAP Hana and “The Killer App” Problem

Ever since SAP announced Hana , I and many others have wondered about what would be the set of killer apps that would come out and wow us. While several apps have come out , and hundreds of others are in the works at SAP and its ecosystem, this question has not quite gone away. Next week is SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, and I have already been asked a lot by a number of people about what killers apps will be demonstrated there.

Obviously, we have cool things on Hana to share with you next week – and I have no plans of spoiling it here. I am pretty sure some of them have real potential to be killer apps.

There is no consensus on what makes a killer app though – if existing SAP applications like Business Suite and BW run on Hana and a lot of customers deploy it, would they be considered killer apps? There will be some who agree and some who disagree and both sides have good reasons for their stances. If a high value use case comes out for a specific niche industry – something that 10 companies in the world can use and get outrageous benefits, but no one else has any use of it – will that be a killer app? I guess the opinion on that too is divided. What if the app is downloaded by 10 million people , but it does not significantly alter the top line for SAP? Will that be considered a killer app? I have a feeling that we won’t get consensus on that either.

So what then is a killer app? and is it a goal worth pursuing? and if there is no one killer app – what happens then?

As you would have guessed by now, I am at a loss on the killer app definition – so I will leave it to my readers to define (ideally in the comments section below). However, I do think that this is not as big a hurdle as I used to think 2 years ago.

All the examples I gave above of potential killer apps are 100% valid for different people – and whatever is the solution should cater to all parts of the ecosystem. However, it is probably different parts of Hana that help each scenario . Some apps need more of Hana’s raw power to process lots of data in quick time , others might need industry specific libraries, yet others might need Hana’s predictive capabilities and so on. And for existing customers – they need the ability to modernize their existing SAP systems with minimal trouble, as well as extend them and even build brand new apps from ground up.

So what is the solution – the solution in my mind is to treat Hana as a platform. Not a “run of the mill” platform – but a modern, standards based platform that caters to a wide variety of developers and customers. It should make it easy for developers to have a native, open and integrated development experience and should scale with their needs. And hopefully some of the apps built on this platform will get to a consensus “killer app” status.

SAP Hana Cloud Platform does this, and a lot more. Come to SAPPHIRENOW or follow along online – we will share a lot more on the platform direction there. Trust me you will like it – so don’t miss it 🙂



Published by Vijay Vijayasankar

Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers

15 thoughts on “SAP Hana and “The Killer App” Problem

  1. Great post Vijay! SAP HANA seems like it is capable of scaling with the proper hardware but will require its fair share of optimization to ensure the most beneficial results.


    1. Sales force definitely did come out with their platform , and SAP did too . The edge has is that they started earlier and hence have lot of action already . However , given SAP HCP is way more modern and more powerful (with Hana as its backbone ) yet open standards based – I think HCP will out do force going forward


  2. Enjoyed this blog Vijay! Surely many of us are looking for these killer apps currently with all these new technologies, but often I believe we are focussed too much on the tech side of things and the amounts of rows that can be read or analyzed within the second or more recently on the UI being real friendly to the eye and easy to use, which are all good things and worthy to look at. Ultimately even the fastest application and best UI does not necessarily make a killer app though, does it?
    I really liked @thorstenster’s recent blog on SCN putting forth, that we possibly need to give some more love and thought to wards “adoption”. (
    Maybe adoption should also be one of the key criteria towards the definition of a killer app.?!
    E.g. Say you develop and introduce a new app in your company for all Sales Account Executives (whatever number that may be), I would say, you can call it a killer app if the majority of this target group of people uses the app regularly, meaning every day or every week, whatever the use case calls for.


    1. Thanks Martin – glad you liked my post.
      And loved Thorsten’s blog a lot

      There are a couple of key points regarding killer apps and adoption

      1. Vendors declare what is a killer app today – and a lot of things arbitrarily get called as innovative . This puts off a lot of customers and hurts adoption . If only vendors focused more on adoption 🙂

      2. Innovation is tied at the hip to being new . This should change – to me , a hallmark of solid innovation is standing the test of time . Examples like our own SAP business suite , IBM’s SABRE etc come to mind .


  3. I would define killer app as providing enough value to cause large numbers of customers to switch from whatever they are doing now to the platform that the app runs on.


  4. Hi Vijay,

    I won’t try to define killer app (btw, have you noticed that in most cases something gets the ‘killer app’ nomination only afterwards, when it’s easy to look back? Let’s just wait and see 😉 ).
    But I really like your solution by treating it as a platform, that enables lots of different applications, some of which will surely be recognized as killer apps in about 3 or 4 years. And IMHO any developer in the SAP ecosystem would do well to get his hands on (parts of) this platform.
    Have fun next week at #SAPPHIRE and share some of the existing apps with us. It might inspire us developers 😉

    Cheers, Fred


  5. I’ve been thinking for a while that SAP trying to sell HANA is a bit like someone trying to sell fire to a Caveman. It has the potential to make a whole lot of things way better, but it often struggles for the one use case within a company that can single-handedly cover the cost associated with it.

    -“Fire can cook your food.” “But I can already cure my food by leaving it out in the sun.”
    -“It can keep you warm at night.” “I already have a blanket.”
    -“It can protect you from predators.” “I have a spear.”

    Same with HANA
    -“It can speed up your batch runs.” “But they already kind of run.”
    -“You’ll get answers faster.” “But I do get the answers now – just not as fast as I’d like.”
    -“You can reduce complexity.” “I’ve already paid for most of the complexity I’ve got.”

    It’s a tough hustle, for sure. In the end, though, I think fire proved to be worth the investment, although it may not have had a killer app-like use case.


    1. Your example is a money shot Jamie !

      I use Einstein’s theory of relativity as an example . It took some time before other parts of science took note and used it . But going forward , I will use fire as an example to make my point – and thanks !


  6. A killer APP is nothing but great idea instantiated as a software product. A good idea is one where you say “I should have thought of that.” A great idea is one where you say “How could I have not thought of that! It is obvious.” In general they produce an order of magnitude or more of results or significant shifts in behavior. CraigsList pretty much ended the era of newspapers (order of magnitude shift in stock prices of media). Facebook change our ability to keep loosely connected friends. SAP R/3 made a business backoffice a product and produced a SW category. I’m looking forward to Sapphire to see these killer APPS.


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