Barcelona in November means SAP TechEd, the technology focused event that is complementary to the more Business focused SAP Sapphire event every May in Orlando. The tone was well set in the opening keynote that directly informed the audience that IT has been in something of a lull in terms of new things in recent years, but now it is time for IT to get engaged learn to deliver Digital Business. SAP Customers should be investing in understand SAP Leonardo as a whole for its ability to transform their Business as much as for any one of its individual technology capabilities.
SAP launched ‘Leonardo’ at SAP Sapphire back in the Spring aiming to bring, what had become a relatively large range of IoT products and associated capabilities associated with existing SAP products, into a single cohesive and recognizable brand. SAP TechEd represented the first major opportunity for SAP to demonstrate the completeness of their vision as to how Leonardo integrates a wide range of the current innovative technologies into Business defined outcomes.
SAP Leonardo is the major foundational element in the SAP strategy to create ‘The Intelligent Enterprise’ by bringing new innovative technologies applied by design thinking methodologies into alignment with existing SAP Enterprise Applications. The width and breadth of capabilities shown running as live demonstrations in the Expo halls testified to the very significant investment in developing both individual capabilities as well as an integrated SAP vision to create an Intelligent Enterprise.
The SAP vision has three main architectural elements namely;
- The SAP HANA
Providing support for ‘Data Diversity’, not just in the formats of inputs, but in the diversity of what and how data is used by an Intelligent Enterprise
S/4 Hana remains the key central architectural element, but with extended functionality to take on an enlarged role. Technology upgrades range from adding Hibernate to improve data integration and manipulation together with Graph and Spatial representation. Taken with other recent upgrades such as SAP Vora to extend specific forms of big data handling S/4 Hana has become a massive Data ‘Hub’ able to integrate and process both Stateful and Stateless data flows using a range of specialized tools. Further details on extensions of support for the important addition of Hibernate are here Taking Applications to the Next Level with SAP HANA and Hibernate
- The SAP Cloud Platform
Provides the SAP specific support capabilities as a layer over ‘open’ Cloud compute service provision
Designed to be Platform Agnostic and run any significant Cloud Platform Services provider, (Google, Amazon, Azure, etc.). SAP is comitted to supporting ‘Open’ Cloud alliances such as Cloud Foundry. The SAP Cloud provides significant security and management capabilities intended to integrate with and extend the Cloud providers own capabilities.
- The User Experience
The delivery of Business value, with announcements of new Machine Learning, and Blockchain capabilities
SAP announced the Machine Learning Foundation as a package containing four elements; 90 ready to apply industry sector trained models, a toolset to customize these models, the ability to import your own trained model, and the capability to set up and train a new unique custom model. Deployment of, or customization, of the included trained models is designed to be straight forward and require little knowledge of Machine Learning technology. Announcement details at https://news.sap.com/sap-expands-sap-leonardo-machine-learning-foundation/
The SAP Blockchain Co-innovation Initiative announcement updated progress noting 27 full members from 11 countries whose combined annual revenues exceed $800 billion are now working together in selected sectors. Additionally, SAP are participating in the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance, BITA, and Spain’s Alastria initiative, full details of the announcement are at https://news.sap.com/sap-blockchain-initiative-expands-to-27-members//
Details of Preliminary moves, including a beta Web Service, to add new levels of data anonymization and privacy in support of the new far reaching General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, were also released with details here Getting Ready for GDPR: Turning the Data Privacy Challenge into Business Value
Finally examples of Co-Pilot a new interface offering Natural Language Processing were made available to demonstrate the direction that User Interfacing would be taking.
SAP Leonardo has grown surprisingly fast from its initial introduction to become a well-structured set of capabilities that individually, and collectively, will support customer requirements to use innovative technologies. Overall the harnessing of the new ‘Digital’ technologies with the existing Enterprise IT capabilities provides SAP with a strong position to help its huge installed customer base to ‘transform’ into an Intelligent Enterprise.
It should be noted that across the Technology Industry there are discontinuities in vocabularies that can confuse when comparing messages on products and capabilities from different vendors. The terms used in this report reflect those used by SAP, but others may choose to use the terms Digital Business and AI for key offerings.
SAP is aware that it faces a challenge in repositioning its image from that of a ‘solid’ supplier’ of ERP into an innovative provider of the new technologies that will under pin the business challenges that their customers are facing; but are their customers equally aware to reconsider their relationship with SAP?
Constellation believes SAP customers should re-evaluate the role SAP could play in their business strategy and technology deployments, and as such ensuring that senior Business management plays a significant role in this re-evaluation.