The SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference is less than a month away. With more than 500 educational sessions to choose from, now is the time to start planning your schedule so you don’t miss anything.

You can filter through the list to search for everything from road map sessions and panel presentations to customer stories, best practices, and round table discussions. Emerging technologies are always a hot topic. If you’re interested in learning more about how to bring these innovations to your company, you’ll want to attend the sessions focused on SAP Leonardo

ASUG caught up with David Judge, VP of SAP intelligent enterprise solutions, who will lead the ASUG presentation “Overview of SAP Leonardo.” We talked about how the platform has evolved as well as the benefits it offers to organizations looking to drive innovation.

David Judge, VP of SAP Intelligent Enterprise Solutions

Sharon: What is SAP Leonardo?

David: SAP Leonardo is both a collection of some of the most promising intelligent technologies and also a way to work with our customers to leverage these technologies, such as machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, analytics, intelligent robotic process automation (IRPA), and conversational artificial intelligence (CAI). This allows us to help our customers drive their own innovation agendas.

SAP Leonardo is focused on driving business outcomes. It’s not just technology for technology’s sake. It’s to help customers achieve either efficiency gains or create the new business models that drive revenue, sometimes both at the same time. And because of that, we’ve taken these interesting technologies and aligned our efforts toward three different ways of working with customers.

The first way is to embed those technologies directly inside our existing products. So, if you’re a customer of SAP Concur, you’ll see that machine learning is embedded directly inside of that experience in many ways. If you’re a customer of SAP S/4HANA, you’ll see that machine learning is also being embedded there, and we’re supporting conversational interfaces and RPA. You’ll start to see these technologies delivered directly to customers so they can improve their business outcomes.

The second way is via guided outcomes. Think of this as a way of extending existing SAP technologies to do something potentially new by combining two or three SAP Leonardo technologies to drive the business outcome that a customer is looking for.

And then third is via open innovation where we can work with a customer to solve business challenge that might be specific to their business. This allows us to work in a free-form way, but also with some rigor and discipline to be able to find a solution to that challenge. We find that, in a lot of ways, some of the work that we’ve done around open innovation has directly benefited the guided outcomes that we’ve created.

That’s SAP Leonardo in a nutshell.

Sharon: How has it evolved since it was first introduced?

David: First, we’ve focused on those business outcomes. And you’ll see that even the guided outcomes, previously called industry innovations kits, have started to continually mature. We’ve also created many more. We have an increased focus on business processes and embedding technologies. What we’re learning is that high-value, repeatable solutions are important.

The next thing is that we’ve continued to add relevant technologies to this focus and will keep on that track. Just last year, SAP made a couple of acquisitions that specialized in RPA and conversational AI technologies. This is just the start, and we will continue to integrate and advance these technologies.

Sharon: How does SAP Leonardo fit into SAP’s vision for the intelligent enterprise?

David: The intelligent enterprise has three major pillars—The Intelligent Suite, Intelligent Technologies (SAP Leonardo), and the digital platform. The intelligent suite brings together and integrates what had previously been separated line-of-business applications. These all sit on and leverage a common platform, both for master data but also for integration, which comes through the SAP Cloud Platform. And the intelligent technologies within SAP Leonardo are embedded directly into the intelligent suite.

So, SAP Leonardo is central to the intelligent enterprise vision in that it can exploit these new technologies to either drive efficiency or create new business models. That is at the very heart of what SAP believes will create an intelligent enterprise.

Sharon: How does SAP Leonardo work with other SAP products such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, or SAP C/4HANA?

David: The idea is that they coexist and provide value to each other. No one goes to the store just to buy machine learning for machine learning’s sake. You’re trying to create an outcome with it.

And so, what we’ve found is that some of the best outcomes are derived by taking machine learning and putting it directly inside of the business process. All of the applications that you mentioned—SAP S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, and SAP C/4HANA—are part of SAP’s systems that drive business processes. We can use machine learning directly inside of SAP S/4HANA to provide things like invoice matching and make that process more intelligent, more efficient, and less error prone.

Similarly, we’re launching IRPA technology, which is a space where the technology has traditionally been very separate from the underlying systems that it automates on top of. We’re taking a different approach where we’re using integrations with SAP S/4HANA (and our broader portfolio of applications) into our RPA capabilities, so they are not separate, but part of the underlying processes. This is a substantial improvement.

You’ll see with every single one of our minor business applications and technologies, and especially the digital core, that SAP Leonardo’s intelligent technologies are being directly embedded in or tightly integrated within these applications so that they can drive more value. And we can ultimately get customers to their business outcomes faster because of that.

Sharon: Can you talk about the benefit of the design thinking process that’s offered with SAP Leonardo? How does it help the customers who use it?

David: One of the central challenges of working with new technology is that there are sometimes so many opportunities to use them that customers can get mired in the decision-making process while trying figure out what to do, rather than doing the project itself.

Design thinking as a methodology is wonderful at being able to focus attention and effort toward high-value business challenges, which we can then apply technologies to solve.

Design thinking itself really focuses on three things. First, can we create a viable solution? Second, is it feasible to create a solution around this problem? And then ultimately, is it desirable? Meaning, is this solving a problem that people want to have solved or that the business needs solved? Being able to work with customers and their business users, as well as technologists, allows us to uncover some wonderful challenges that we’ve been able to solve with SAP Leonardo.

Sharon: Can you share with us a couple of recent success stories for customers who used SAP Leonardo? What did they accomplish?

David: The first customer that comes to mind is Costco, which is a large food supplier and distributor with retail stores within the U.S. Costco came to SAP Leonardo through this design-thinking process with a very interesting challenge. Its retail locations have large bakeries that produce and sell perishable goods every day, and its bakery managers were tasked with managing the volume of baked goods produced. Each manager made the decision based on feelings and previous experience.

Through design thinking, we created a new solution for Costco that used machine learning and SAP’s predictive analytics technologies. Costco used its previous data on sales and combined it with other data sources, which allowed us to arrive at a prediction that helped guide the bakery manager to be substantially more accurate in what needed to be produced for that day.

BNP Paribas is another great example of how customers benefit from intelligent technologies. The banking group reduced a very complex customer onboarding process for Hello bank!, its online bank, from 25 minutes to under five minutes by using IRPA. Previously, the bank had human agents working across more than 10 systems with multiple manual steps. IRPA led to great improvements in the quality and speed of the customer experience by reducing human error and automating the process.

The last example I’ll share is of Pregis Corporation, a leading provider of innovative packaging materials. The company installs packaging machines at customer distribution centers and delivers products as materials are consumed. It required nonstop digital support to monitor and analyze those machines and to stay on top of meeting demand. Pregis turned to SAP Leonardo and IoT technologies to help keep customers supplied with raw materials. This allows experts to address mechanical issues before they become problems.

Sharon: In your opinion, which of the technologies within SAP Leonardo has the greatest potential to add value to an organization today?

David: That’s a tough question. I think every single one of the technologies that are under the SAP Leonardo umbrella are important. And, to varying degrees, they all can affect an organization immediately.

With each of the technologies, there are different maturity levels—blockchain is perhaps a little further away for some businesses whereas something like IRPA is immediately accessible. It’s a useful exercise for companies to think about what could provide value now, what could provide value maybe in a year, and what could provide value in the longer-term horizon and pay attention to those things. Build the necessary competencies to exploit them with SAP Leonardo.

If we’re talking about right now, I would say conversational AI, IRPA, embedded machine learning, and IoT.

Sharon: Let’s switch gears and talk about your session “Overview of SAP Leonardo.” Who will benefit most from attending?

David: I would recommend this session to business leaders who want to understand what’s going on with SAP Leonardo, but also to business leaders and technologists who are really thinking about how they can use these technologies in a pragmatic way.

Sharon: What should attendees expect to learn?

David: They will learn all about SAP Leonardo, and what SAP is doing around IRPA, conversational AI, and embedded machine learning. And they’ll also learn how they can get started with SAP Leonardo and what they might need to do on their side to help accelerate the process.

Sharon: In your opinion, what makes an ASUG session valuable? How is it different than any other educational opportunities throughout the conference?

David: ASUG sessions bring together a terrific group of executives and technologists, and it’s important to interact and learn with them. There is a very communal and collaborative nature to it. ASUG Members in particular, tend to be very direct and ask varied types of questions, which is valuable for everyone in attendance.

Sharon: What do you want attendees take away from your session?

David: I want them to understand where SAP is headed with emerging technologies, how that can help them today, and the ways that they could get started once they get back to the office after the conference.

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