SAP is doubling down on generative artificial intelligence (AI) with the debut of Joule, its new digital assistant.
Announcing plans to embed the “natural-language, generative AI copilot” throughout the entire SAP cloud portfolio, starting later this year, SAP says Joule is designed to deliver proactive, contextualized insights from across its entire suite of cloud services as well as third-party systems.
In a Sept. 26 announcement—delivered through SAP’s Rise into the Future broadcast and a simultaneously scheduled press screening—SAP explained that Joule will be embedded into SAP applications from HR to finance, supply chain, procurement, and customer experience, as well as into SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), which brings together application development, data management, analytics and planning, integration, and AI capabilities into one unified environment optimized for SAP applications.
SAP announced plans to first make Joule available with SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP Start later this year, then with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition early next year. SAP Customer Experience, SAP Ariba solutions, and SAP BTP will follow.
"At the Nexus of Business and Technology"
"We're rapidly moving past the hype cycle into meaningful adoption of AI to deliver real value," said Julia White, SAP Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer and a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, in a press briefing. "As we look ahead, AI will be the engine powering every aspect of our technology."
While access to the Joule interface will be rolled out one application at a time within existing SAP software license agreements, generative AI use cases of the applications that Joule calls upon will be "uniquely" priced based on business value, said White, promising more information on this front in the coming weeks.
“With almost 300 million enterprise users around the world working regularly with cloud solutions from SAP, Joule has the power to redefine the way businesses – and the people who power them – work,” said Christian Klein, CEO and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE in an official statement. “Joule draws on SAP’s unique position at the nexus of business and technology and builds on our relevant, reliable, responsible approach to Business AI. Joule will know what you mean, not just what you say.”
By drawing upon the breadth of business data across the SAP portfolio while retaining business context, the copilot will help customers get work done faster and drive better business outcomes, according to SAP. The copilot "serves to energize the business outcomes possible for our customers using SAP solutions,” said White, noting that its name was selected to reflect an "energy force" that can assist and augment customers' efforts.
Compatible applications will allow SAP cloud customers to open up Joule's interface, input natural-language requests or navigate through AI-generated prompts, and receive responses from Joule in the form of text, graphics, and tables derived from SAP or external data sources; Joule can also provide links to relevant SAP applications and workflows. Use cases outlined by SAP included, for HR, help writing unbiased job descriptions and relevant interview questions; and for manufacturing, help with better understanding sales performance
SAP Business AI Approach
SAP created an external AI ethics advisory panel in 2018, becoming the first European tech company to do so; this panel evaluates every AI use case at SAP, according to Thomas Saueressig, a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE for SAP Product Engineering. In the call, Saueressig reiterated the company's commitment to ethics and security around AI.
SAP will not use existing customer data to train external foundational AI models that will be available to other customers, according to Bharat Sandhu, SVP of Application Development, Automation and AI, at SAP. Instead, SAP will host the associated large language models (LLMs) in its own data centers when possible, masking and anonymizing any data that is sent out to external LLMs for processing.
Joule is one of three main layers in SAP's AI strategy, said Sandhu, with the foundational layer for orchestration embedded in SAP BTP and a second layer involving AI capabilities embedded in SAP's individual applications. Joule's interface will ultimately sit on top of the entire SAP suite and serve as a common point of engagement for users, though it will be rolled out gradually.
SAP's announcement of Joule builds on its previous launch of SAP Business AI tools and an AI-centric SAP Sapphire conference in May. The reveal comes on the heels of similar AI-copilot announcements from major enterprise software vendors including Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, and ServiceNow.
With SAP preparing for its SuccessConnect event (October 2–4), SAP Spend Connect Live (October 9-11), SAP Customer Experience Live (October 25), the SAP TechEd conference (November 2–3), and ASUG Tech Connect (November 7–9), expect more announcements in the coming weeks surrounding SAP Business AI and details of premium editions of RISE with SAP and GROW with SAP offerings.