For SAP, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is not so much about connecting things to the Internet as it is automating business processes.
At the recent Sapphire Now conference, SAP outlined how it will make use of a lightweight implementation of the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform to push both transaction processing and analytics as far out to the edge as possible via a cloud-enabled IoT service running on top of SAP HANA.
But Michael Lynch, global co-lead for IoT at SAP, says that’s really only the first step. The second step is to then begin moving from the realm of predictive analytics to a world where prescriptive analytics enable business processes to be dynamically adjusted in real time. For example, the appearance of a tropical depression off the coast of North America would change flight schedules, which would then trigger the sending of an alert to passengers, and also dispatch a car service to pick up passengers to bring them to the airport at the new time.
Beyond enabling that level of business process automation, Lynch says SAP sees being able to provide this level of data in real time eventually driving the emergence of new business models. Lynch says SAP can’t say for certain what those new business models will look like, but as organizations share data in real time, it will begin to change relationships between businesses and entire industries.
Thanks to its strengths in ERP applications, control of those processes and its ownership of the SAP Ariba business network, SAP is one of the few vendors to turn the IoT data being collected into highly automated, actionable intelligence.
The degree to which organizations will be able to adjust to a new IoT reality will vary greatly. But if SAP has its way, the line between what we today call ERP and IoT will become all but indistinguishable.