At this juncture, it’s not so much a question of whether artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will be applied, but rather when and how. In the case of SAP, the central AI focus will be on future releases of the SAP HANA Cloud Platform Cockpit tool that organizations use to manage the company’s ERP applications running on a cloud service.
Christian Pedersen, chief product officer, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, says SAP is working on adding a digital assistant capability enabled by machine and deep learning algorithms to SAP Cockpit that will provide similar capabilities to what consumers experience within the context of Siri from Apple or Alexa from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Rather than employing Apple Siri or other digital assistants to manage SAP environments, Pedersen says, it became obvious that SAP customers would require a digital assistant specifically trained on all the nuances of SAP software. In much the same way an organization would not employ an assistant that didn’t understand the businesses core processes, a digital assistant infused by machine learning algorithms needs to be specially trained for a set of tasks, says Pedersen.
“It will act as a co-pilot,” says Pedersen.
SAP has already made it clear it intends to infuse machine learning algorithms into everything from the core SAP HANA database to a series of emerging technologies being made available via a SAP Leonardo initiative. The issue now is how to make all those algorithms accessible via a digital assistant.
Eventually, various digital assistants trained for different classes of software will then begin to interact with one another to share knowledge and expertise. In the meantime, however, everybody with an organization that interacts with business software can soon expect to interact with some form of a digital assistant to use voice commands to request a report or adjust a process. Naturally, that may take some getting used to for some folks. But as the author William Gibson once famously noted, the future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.