SAP Embeds Additional Business Processes with Cloud ERP Platform

    SAP this week continued to accelerate the rate at which additional business processes are being automated within its ERP applications thanks to machine learning algorithms.

    With the 1805 release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud this week SAP is adding 12 AI-powered scenarios consisting of nine machine learning-based scenarios and three SAP conversational user interface (UI) scenarios that are accessed via the SAP CoPilot management console for ERP applications. Business processes that are being automated include account reconciliation powered by machine learning in finance departments and project cost forecasting.

    SAP is also enabling end users to invoke a speech interface within its sourcing and procurement software and sales ordering applications. Sven Denecken, senior vice president and head of product management and co-innovation for SAP Cloud ERP, says that speech interface can be used to both query those applications or leverage machine learning algorithms embedded in those applications to enable those applications to surface recommendations to optimize a specific business process.

    SAP is now committed to automating at least 50 percent of all business processes by 2020, notes Denecken. Most of those advances are going to be embedded within the company’s ERP suite of applications.

    Many of those recommendations will be delivered via the speech interface. But Denecken says most users will be using a combination of speech and graphical user interfaces for the foreseeable future.

    These latest innovations will manifest themselves first in the cloud instance of ERP applications that SAP manages on behalf of customers before being made available in the on-premises edition of the company’s ERP software. The cloud edition of SAP ERP software is now being updated every quarter, says Denecken.

    Denecken says the rate at which business process innovations are being made within ERP applications is starting to force line of business managers and IT to more closely align. LOB executives are interested in improving the company’s bottom line, while IT managers have a vested interest in trying to eliminate as many custom business processes as possible.

    “IT and business people are starting to show up at the same table,” says Denecken.

    The rate at which most organizations will be able to absorb advances in business process transformation will naturally vary. But what is clear at this point is that the rate at which those changes are coming is starting to approach the fast and the furious.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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