As more organizations look to innovate and transform their business processes, they’ll also look to technology that will enable the move. SAP keeps the needle moving toward becoming an intelligent enterprise via products, services, and support.
ASUG sat down with the authors of “SAP Leonardo: An Introduction to the Intelligent Enterprise” from SAP Press to hear how these technologies can enable a digital transformation. Amit Sinha, leader in SAP supply chain practices at Deloitte Consulting, and Ganesh Wadawadigi, chief demand insight expert for IoT and digital supply chain solutions at SAP, talked to us about the SAP Leonardo tool set and how it can be used to examine new business models to optimize manufacturing, logistics, asset management, finance, and more.
Sharon: What is SAP Leonardo and how can it enable an organization to transform, modernize, and automate?
Ganesh: SAP Leonardo is a collection of intelligent technologies—machine learning, blockchain, data intelligence, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and analytics—and services combined with industry-domain expertise to help companies innovate faster and embark on their digital transformation journey.
These technologies help form the foundation of an intelligent enterprise, enabling companies to optimize and extend their business processes. These technologies can also be used to create new business models and revenue streams for companies so they‘re able to deliver products and services to their customers faster.
One of the things that SAP Leonardo does is provide integration and scalability, and this is done through microservices and open APIs that are provided through the SAP Cloud Platform, which forms the foundation of SAP Leonardo.
It’s important also to recognize SAP Leonardo as a holistic, digital innovation system to achieve the goal of an intelligent enterprise. The power of SAP Leonardo is in its flexibility to help achieve the digital goals and deliver the next level of value in every industry.
Sharon: How should an organization adopt SAP Leonardo? Can you walk us through the different ways that are available?
Amit: Yes, there are three recommended ways to adopt SAP Leonardo. The first is through embedded technology, and SAP has already invested heavily in that arena. For example, these intelligent technologies are embedded in products such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, and SAP Digital Supply Network, just to name a few.
The second way is through Industry Innovation Kits. SAP has been investing heavily in this area as well. There are currently more than 20 Industry Innovation Kits for more than 12 industries, and these are available for licenses, manufacturing, automotive, consumer products, and others. SAP creates the innovation kits based on the common areas where technology transformation adds faster value realization in proven areas. These are out-of-the-box solutions, and you don’t need to create them from scratch.
The third part is the open innovation, which gives the flexibility to use SAP Leonardo in the way that’s suited for a specific organization. Process, tools, and technologies of SAP Leonardo are adopted for the unique requirements of an organization.
There are multiple success stories for all the mentioned approaches. Our book will walk you through the approaches and the recommended ways to implement.
Sharon: Let’s talk about Design Thinking and why an organization should adopt this approach. What are the benefits?
Amit: Design Thinking involves looking at a solution or process from the eyes of your customer and designing for their needs or experience. For many years, research has proven that the product success rate gets higher if the customer is part of the development process. It’s not a new concept, but what’s different now is that the process is enabled by technology.
With SAP Leonardo, Design Thinking allows for a creative, collaborative, and iterative problem-solving approach with a human-centered focus. It really supports the idea of crawl, walk, and then run. It allows an organization to think outside of the box and take a more empathetic and user-centric approach. You start from that perspective and then walk your way backward as to what is it that you need to do, and then the technology enables you to run with it.
Sharon: Let’s talk about the core set of technologies within SAP Leonardo. I know we’ve discussed them briefly, but can you give us an overview of how an organization can use these capabilities to create an intelligent enterprise?
Ganesh: The core set of technologies within SAP Leonardo are machine learning, blockchain, data intelligence, big data, IoT, and analytics. These technologies can be used individually or in combination with one another. For example, IoT capabilities along with analytics as a combination, or just machine learning on its own, or a mix of IoT, blockchain, and analytics. The key here is to understand that either individually or in combination with each other, they can be used as tools for business process automation and enable better decision-making.
SAP has also been actively taking these technologies and embedding them in its solution portfolio such as SAP S/4HANA and SAP Digital Supply Chain.
There are multiple use cases that span every LoB and every industry where these technologies can provide capabilities, such as automating repetitive tasks; providing more actionable insights by identifying certain data patterns; providing visibility and transparency into the supply chain so that the planners and the business users can make better, faster, and more informed decisions; and much more.
These are just a few examples. All these capabilities basically help create a net impact of achieving higher efficiency as an organization, higher throughput and increased revenues and profits while containing costs, all of which are essential to become an intelligent enterprise.
In summary, an intelligent enterprise makes effective use of data assets to achieve the desired outcomes in a faster manner and with less risk. This obviously involves empowering employees with the right information at the right time, automating processes where possible, anticipating and proactively responding to customer needs, and more importantly inventing new business models and new revenue streams. We cover several illustrated examples of these in chapters one and two.
It’s important to note that these core set of technologies within SAP Leonardo combined with the intelligent suite of business applications such as SAP S/4HANA and the LoB applications like SAP Digital Supply Chain, along with the SAP Cloud Platform and data management, collectively provide the capabilities needed in building an intelligent enterprise. So, not only can you use these stand-alone technologies, but you also can leverage them in business applications to achieve digital transformation. We cover this in detail in part three of the book.
Sharon: Let’s talk about big data and analytics. Can you explain these technologies? How does SAP Leonardo help to manage and use them?
Ganesh: Data is the fuel for growth for every enterprise today, and when you look at big data it has three characteristics—the three V’s as they are called—volume, velocity, and variety. Data is being generated today in huge amounts and at a very rapid rate. This data is being generated not only within the enterprise, but also in the extended enterprise. To meet the growth targets of the business and meet and manage the customer expectations, companies need to collaborate seamlessly with their business partners and share relevant data. Lastly, this data is of different types. It could be structured data, as purchase orders and sales orders and other transactions, or unstructured data from sources like IoT sensors and social media.
To harness all of this, companies need to first have a very comprehensive data management strategy that will help them move the data, transform it, integrate it with their business processes, as well as have the tools and techniques to maintain the quality of the data. You need to make sure the data is of the right quality, otherwise it’s of no use.
SAP HANA Data Management Suite, which is part of SAP Leonardo technologies, enables companies to manage their data end-to-end. An organization can take raw data, clean it, and bring it into a trusted format so that it can be used in business applications, in analytics, with machine learning, as well as in a range of other use cases. It also acts as a development platform for applications that need analytics on real-time transactions; for data governance and anonymization of data; for modeling data across LoBs based on business needs; and for handling different data types and technology architectures. It provides in-memory, multimodel analytics and data-processing capabilities, which are needed to be able to manage the deluge of data that companies face today.
Analytics, on the other hand, is the process of evaluating, examining, and processing large amounts of data to find patterns and correlations, and then derive insights. SAP Leonardo allows companies to automate parts of the analytics process and the resulting business decisions to achieve dynamic insights. It provides various analytic capabilities to analyze data that is being generated from various types of sources. These analytics solutions help uncover issues and opportunities in all aspects of the business such as finance, sales, marketing, supply chain, operations, IT, workforce management, etc.
As part of SAP Leonardo, SAP offers SAP Analytics Hub, which is a comprehensive portfolio of analytics solution. These analytics capabilities can provide answers to questions like what happened last week, yesterday, in the last month, and why did it happen, while also predicting by providing answers to questions about what will happen or what is the best that could happen given the current situation.
Analytics play a key role in the digital transformation of a company and it provides tools for the users to focus on high-value tasks and then proactively manage their business as conditions change, so that they can make better and more profitable decisions.
Sharon: Can you explain machine learning within SAP Leonardo?
Amit: Machine learning is the basis of AI and what enables a digital transformation. It is the capability of inferring knowledge to a computer program. Consider a computer or a program that teaches itself that also improves with time.
There are two types of algorithms for machine learning—supervised learning and unsupervised learning. In supervised learning, the data is provided without labels, whereas in unsupervised learning it is provided without labels. SAP Leonardo provides various state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms with more than 90 native algorithms, as well as extension capabilities through open-source integration.
We have provided detailed knowledge about machine learning, different models, and its applications in our book.
Sharon: Let’s talk about blockchain. What is it and how can it be used? What is SAP’s approach to blockchain technology?
Ganesh: Blockchain is one of the core intelligent technologies in the SAP Leonardo portfolio. It’s a distributed ledger where the data is stored in what are called blocks that are cryptographically linked and immutable. Once the data is written, it cannot be changed.
This decentralized nature helps create trust and transparency among business partners. This transparency and auditability can help optimize processes when multiple parties are involved in business transactions or when you’re tracking assets that are going through a value chain. In addition to that, blockchain can help minimize risk in fraud in inter-company business processes.
There are many applications of blockchain, particularly in the areas of finance and supply chain. Using SAP Cloud Platform, SAP provides blockchain services and currently supports three different blockchain protocols—Hyperledger Fabric, MultiChain, and Quorum. These blockchain services provide network extension, foundational services, application integration services, blockchain services, and SAP HANA blockchain services. Currently, SAP also has blockchain-enabled solutions for salable returns verification for the pharmaceutical industry as well as material traceability for the food industry.
Sharon: What is IoT technology and how does it fit into SAP Leonardo?
Amit: IoT are physical devices that connect over the internet to process and transmit the information. There are currently more than 20 billion IoT devices connected to the internet. Information is flowing without any human involvement.
SAP Leonardo provides IoT applications, a foundation of business and technical services to enable IoT in SAP landscapes. It enables secure edge processing for IoT applications.
Sharon: What is the biggest misconception about SAP Leonardo, and what would you like readers to know about the service?
Ganesh: The biggest misconception is that SAP Leonardo is a product. It’s not. It is a set of technologies and services that help enable an intelligent enterprise.
Sharon: Can you summarize the book in a few sentences?
Ganesh: The objective of this book is to help business leaders and technology practitioners who are looking to innovate and bring about digital transformation in their business. It is a guide for the various intelligent technologies in SAP Leonardo that can help create an intelligent enterprise. Most importantly, it includes a lot of illustrative examples across various LoBs as well as industries, so hopefully the readers will find examples that are close to what their role is in their organizations.
Amit: The book demystifies SAP Leonardo. It dives deep into how to use the various intelligent technologies. It is a one-stop solution to meet or to design your goals for the intelligent enterprise by using not only SAP Leonardo, but also SAP technologies and a combination of SAP Leonardo.
You can read the full details in the “SAP Leonardo: An Introduction to the Intelligent Enterprise” book from SAP Press. Register for the ASUGFORWARD Virtual Experience taking place June 22 – 25, 2020 to learn, exchange ideas, and gain practical information you can put into practice immediately.