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Norbert Kytka, Headquarters PlattlingContact
At the TechEd technology conference, the ERP provider specified exactly what the road to implementing the mission should look like regarding “intelligently connecting people, Things and Businesses”. TechEd took place in Las Vegas, Bangalore and Barcelona between the end of September and mid-November 2017.
ERP flagship S/4HANA is already being used by more than 1,000 customers. SAP managed to build a good foundation for the future: technology and software will have more and more influence on business and private life. It is more than just reliable ERP core processes to meet the challenges of the digital age. SAP’s “digital innovation system” Leonardo provides cloud-based tools and platforms as well as standardized consulting concepts to support its customers on their way into a digital age. Latest technology topics such as blockchain, machine learning, Big Data and IoT are pooled in Leonardo.
Fully developed tools, artificial intelligence systems which learn independently from data and behavioural patterns (machine learning) will considerably change business applications in the coming years. With the platform “Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation”, SAP generates a tool for the near future that offers both ready-to-use technical services such as image and speech recognition out-of-the-box, as well as the training of its own models and the extension and adaptation of ready-made patterns. For this, Google offers an OpenSource solution (TensorFlow) as technical basis.
The digital assistant “CoPilot” represents a special feature of machine-learning-based systems. From the beginning of 2018, it will also be available for S/4HANA On-Premise. The system is supposed to support the user at any time and on various channels (e.g. voice, chat) in the same way as Siri, Cortana, Alexa & others. At the end, the system shall carry out tasks for the users independently. After a long period of development, it is now ready and clearly shows how the use of enterprise applications such as SAP is integrated more and more into the natural workflows of people’s everyday life - in the sense of an overall homogeneous “digital experience”.
Machine learning requires a large, high-quality database in order to work well. For machine learning, the existing data from an ERP system is used. But also, mass data from the Internet of Things or other data sources which can be handled by using SAP Vora or Hadoop Big Data Lake can be imported and used. SAP has recently announced the “Data Hub” for the centralized management and control of seemingly endless data streams. It enables companies to keep focused on the data streams always - and, of course, in “real time”.
It was particularly striking that SAP emphasized at TechEd with many different announcements that they count on open standards and reliable and solid partners in the cloud world. Users of the SAP Cloud Platform can choose the cloud infrastructure providers they want to entrust their data to. The major providers are Amazon, Google, Microsoft and SAP. Google, in particular, complements itself perfectly with SAP; Google’s powerful infrastructure, the productivity solution GSuite together with SAP’s business and data management solutions, result in a complete package for the customer.
Today, companies often face the problem that they do not have qualified personnel and development know-how in order to implement the various requirements for digitization. In particular, the announced partnership with the provider of a "low-code" development platform Mendix will help SAP customers to implement at least simpler requirements independently. Everybody is talking about “Rapid Application Development”. SAP offers many tools and templates to simplify and accelerate the implementation of software solutions in this area.
One of the latest but also most vague topics in the business context is the subject of “blockchain”. For the first time, it was of great importance during the SAP Technology Days. When it comes to trusting business relationships with a need for traceable transactions in decentralized data storage, helpful business use cases are necessary.
Conclusion: Challenging, but also exciting and promising changes await us in the age of digitalization. SAP is well positioned and proves to be a reliable partner.