SAP Looks to Accelerate Digital Business Transformations

Mike Vizard

At the SAP Sapphire Now and ASUG 2017 conference today, SAP laid out an ambitious plan to consolidate a broad range of offerings into a single line of products and services that collectively promise to make it simpler for organizations to launch a digital business transformation project.

Mike Flannagan, senior vice president for analytics and executive board member for SAP, says a large swath of the SAP analytics, Big Data, machine learning algorithms, and block chain technologies along with the recently launched SAP Data Network will be rebranded as a family of SAP Leonardo products and services. Previously, the SAP Leonardo family of SAP products was limited to Internet of Things (IoT) offerings.

The goal, says Flannagan, is to make the SAP Leonardo family of products and service available as a series of accelerators aimed at a couple of use cases within four vertical industries that organizations can use to jumpstart digital business transformation projects by employing rapid prototypes.

“We’ve discovered there are a lot of common elements in these projects,” says Flannagan.

Initial engagements for those accelerator projects will be priced between 50,000 to 300,000 Euros, said Flannagan. After that initial engagement, Flannagan added that organizations can then determine if the return on investment (ROI) being generated is high enough to warrant additional investments.

To advance those projects, SAP today also unveiled SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation, a set of machine learning–enabled applications for automating functions such as invoicing and customer service, and an SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service for building application extensions using emerging distributed ledger technology. On the IoT front, SAP is also launching a digital twin initiative through which organizations can create a virtual copy of a physical machine for training and prototyping purposes.

Finally, SAP also revealed it has added hundreds of application programming interfaces (APIs) for SAP S/4HANA, SAP Hybris, and SAP Ariba to the SAP API Business Hub alongside new integration flows and microservices. In conjunction with that effort, SAP also announced today that it will no longer apply indirect access fees to static read access SAP data residing in third-party systems.

In effect, Flannagan said SAP is now distinguishing between systems of innovation that drive digital business transformations and traditional systems of records that manifest themselves as, for example, an ERP application. What will theoretically differentiate SAP is the level of integration it can provide across those disparate systems.

The challenge, of course, is finding the budget for those projects. In some cases, IT leaders are being required to reduce spending on existing projects to fund new digital business projects. In other instances, business executives are making available additional budget dollars to fund those transformations. Regardless of where the funding comes from, however, Flannagan says organizations of all sizes are keen to reduce their risks when engaging in digital business projects by not being required to invest millions of dollars before achieving a theoretical business outcome.


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