SAP Sapphire Now, Day 1: SAP Introduces Leonardo, a “System For Digital Innovation”

ORLANDO, Fla. — Saying "it's time for your core systems to fuel your digital innovation," SAP's CEO, Bill McDermott, rolled out SAP Leonardo, "the SAP system for digital innovation," during his keynote address on day one of SAP’s Sapphire Now conference yesterday. "It's time for your data to drive a new experiences for your customers; it's time for machine learning to take the work out of your workflow; it's time for billions of devices to go from thinking to doing."

SAP’s Leonardo digital innovation system—which was released yesterday—ties together a variety of software capabilities for the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, blockchain, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence and places them on SAP’s Cloud Platform (formerly the HANA Cloud Platform) to work in concert with SAP’s "experience, deep process and industry knowledge, and advanced design thinking methodology," according to Mala Anand, president of SAP's Leonardo practice. "To become a digital business we need to change our business process and our business model, and no single technology can do that," she said. 

The release “is the biggest move our company has made since HANA,” McDermott said. And, he told the 30,000 in attendance, “we all know how that worked out.”

Anand said that SAP users can leverage Leonardo to build solutions for their specific industry or business needs, but that it has also released what are called "industry accelerators," to reduce the amount of time it takes to get "from innovation to implementation by more than 50 percent." The accelerators are built to handle use cases common to certain verticals and allow end users to sidestep the process of piecing together various software components to solve a business problem on their own.

Leonardo integrates with SAP's existing applications and can make them more "intelligent and powerful," Anand said. Additionally, SAP will be opening the platform to developers and partners so they can build out custom applications. It will be supported by SAP Leonardo Centers that will soon open in New York, Paris, Sao Paulo and Sao Leopoldo, and Bangalore.

Other developments in the SAP Leonardo innovation portfolio include the Machine Learning Foundation and the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service. The first of these is a set of applications to handle corporate functions such as customer service and retention. The SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service enables users to build out application extensions and solutions using distributed ledger technology.

According to a blog post by Juergen Mueller, SAP's chief innovation officer, the Service Ticketing offering for SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer works to classify incoming customer service tickets to route them to the best available agent. The agent is then given recommended solutions to improve operational efficiency. "This is the first step towards self-running customer service," Mueller wrote in his blog post.

SAP Customer Retention uses machine learning to mine data that reveals subtle indicators of potential churn and helps companies predict when a customer is in danger of leaving them for a competitor. It can also be used to forecast cross-sells and upsells and loyalty, as well as to choose the actions that are most likely to improve customer experience.

SAP also announced that it would collaborate with Deloitte Consulting to create a suite of next-generation digital offerings for finance, the supply chain, and software-as-a-service companies.

"Deloitte's global and regional reach, deep industry expertise, and thought leadership, as well as their SAP Leonardo portfolio knowledge, make them ideal co-innovators," Anand wrote in a blog post.

"We're looking forward to really big things with Deloitte," McDermott said during an executive panel.   

Additionally, SAP expanded the partnership it announced with Google in March to include additional certification of SAP technology and applications on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The collaboration aims to make the SAP Cloud Platform on GCP available globally. Together, the companies plan to release conversational apps that guide users through their workflows and transactions and answer questions concerning their enterprise. These apps will combine SAP's business process expertise with Google’s machine learning services, such as the Translate and Speech APIs, and the open source library for machine learning, TensorFlow.

"It's a very cool partnership," said Diane Green, senior vice president of Google Cloud, who joined Bernd Leukert, a member of the executive board of SAP SE, Products, and Innovation, onstage during his keynote. “SAP leading in the business applications, and Google with 17 years of technical innovation in the cloud, the teams are really complementary.”

The company’s first joint customer is sovanta, a German software company, which is using SAP S/4HANA and Google Cloud to drive business growth.

"The partnership between SAP and Google came exactly at the right time," said Michael Kern, COO of sovanta, in a video that aired during the keynote. "The Google platform gives us speed, flexibility, and scalability as we need it." The company was able to move into the cloud in just four weeks, Kern said.

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