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Norbert Kytka, Headquarters PlattlingContact
With the ERP flagship S/4HANA, which is already being used by more than 1000 customers, SAP has laid the solid foundation for a future in which technology and software will continue to influence more and more parts of business and private life. To meet the challenges of the digital age, however, it takes more than just stable ERP core processes. That is why SAP's Leonardo "digital innovation system" provides cloud-based tools and platforms as well as standardized consulting concepts to accompany and support its customers on their way into a digital age. Latest technology topics such as blockchain, machine learning, Big Data and IoT are pooled within Leonardo.
In particular, the increasingly mature possibilities offered by artificial intelligence in the sense of systems that learn independently from data and behavioral patterns (machine learning) will change business applications in the coming years in an unprecedented way. With the “Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation”, SAP will in future offer a platform 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 prefabricated models. The technical basis for this is the open source solution "TensorFlow" from Google.
A special feature of machine-learning-based systems is the digital assistant "CoPilot", which will also be available for S/4HANA On-Premise from the beginning of next year. The system, which is supposed to support the user at any time, analogous to Siri, Cortana, Alexa & Co. on various channels (e. g. voice, chat) and to carry out tasks for him independently, takes on concrete forms after a long period of development. It clearly shows how the use of enterprise applications such as SAP is becoming more and more closely integrated into the natural workflows of the human being, in the sense of an overall homogeneous "digital experience".
One of the basic prerequisites for machine learning is the availability of a large and high-quality database. Of course, nowadays it is not only about the comparatively manageable data within an ERP system, but also about IoT mass data and other data sources, which are managed with SAP Vora or a Hadoop Big Data Lake, for example. For the centralized management and control of these seemingly endless data streams, SAP has announced the “Data Hub”", which enables companies to keep track of the data streams at all times - and, of course, also "real time".
It was particularly positive to note that SAP emphasized at TechEd with many announcements that it relies heavily on open standards and solid partners in the cloud world. Users of the SAP Cloud Platform can choose which of the major cloud infrastructure providers they want to entrust their data to: Amazon, Google, Microsoft or SAP itself. Especially with Google, SAP complements itself perfectly here. The powerful infrastructure and the productivity solution GSuite from Google, together with the business and data management solutions from SAP, result in a complete package for the customer. In order to quickly implement the diverse digitization requirements that companies face today, there is often a lack of qualified personnel and development know-how. 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. But SAP itself also offers more and more tools and templates to simplify and accelerate the implementation of software solutions in terms of rapid application development.
Last but not least, the relatively new and perhaps somewhat blurred topic of “blockchain” in the business context also took up a great deal of room at the SAP technology conferences for the first time. Useful business use cases begin to take shape, especially when it comes to trusting business relationships with a need for traceable transactions in decentralized data storage.
Conclusion: SAP is well prepared and shows itself to be a reliable partner for the challenging, but also exciting and promising changes that lie ahead in the age of digitalization.