SAP used the Barcelona, Spain-located Mobile World Congress conference and exhibition in February 2018 to announce its SAP Leonardo Telecommunications Industry accelerator. 

All well and good in terms of aligning product launches to appropriate industry vertical tech trade shows. But what’s really inside the box? The term “accelerator” is comparatively new within cloud computing nomenclature. So what software components, packages, tools, architectures, and other functions actually exist inside any one of SAP’s accelerators?

A Penchant for Preconfiguration in Cloud-Based Tech

If truth be told, this is a tough question to answer. This is because technology platform blueprints, reference architectures, preconfiguration templates, and accelerators (call them what you will) are specifically designed to reduce complexity, not to explain their internal components. 

You’re not supposed to need to know everything about what goes into the engine and how its pistons drive. You’re just supposed to know which direction to face and where the start button is. 

In an attempt to analyze what kind of engineering has really occurred here, let’s dig as deep as we can. Industry accelerators as they now exist in SAP Leonardo reflect the current penchant for preconfiguration that we can see across the entire IT industry, as automation and orchestration tools come to the fore. These are the new darlings of the “cloud made easier” age that we now find ourselves in. 

Indeed, SAP has already offered preconfigured solutions for specific industry or line of business (LoB) applications in the form of its SAP Model Company playbook. It’s all about ready-to-use functionality delivered as a service. But that still doesn’t tell us much about the ingredients inside this cake mix.  

Predefined, Repeatable Use Cases  

If we want to get specific here, SAP accelerators concentrate on helping find and establish, define and demarcate, quantify and qualify, and then categorize and manage what we can call predefined repeatable use cases for specific chunks of data inside applications.  

Software applications typically have some kind of shape that describes their behavior when they execute. That shape and data topography will often be reinforced, depending on the industry vertical for the software. This is what SAP accelerators capture and then make available for other use cases.

Capturing the Shape of Software by Industry

If a telecommunications application—or let’s switch industries now—if a retail firm wants to launch a new product using a cloud retail application and it has these definable shape characteristics, they might be:  

  • High memory use at start up to pull relevant historical data into access.
  • Pronounced and significant input/output demands as users configure specific initial requests of the application.
  • A period of latency as other user activity is carried out. Or, in the case of more automated machine-to-machine applications, a similar period of idle time.
  • Specific processing requests for any number and combination of component services, such as data relating to assets, inventory, global tracking, and so on.
  • Calls to data analytics engines for processing and predictive actions based on all of the above.
  • Calls to data storage memory to complete the actions. 

This incomplete and somewhat haphazardly offered set of bullets is merely meant to show that each software use case will have some kind of form. SAP accelerators aim to be able to capture and define that form so that the use case can be replicated and applied elsewhere, once the data is appropriately anonymized.

SAP says it targets common use cases for a 70% to 80% fit with SAP Leonardo industry accelerators in this presentation, SAP Industry Accelerators – a Deeper look. That way, customers don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Also crucial, this is supposed to be “defined” software at the procurement level, so it comes as a fixed-price package.

Design Thinking Baked Into SAP Leonardo 

As SAP puts it, “SAP Leonardo industry and IoT accelerator packages provide fixed-price software and services bundles to address specific use cases by preintegrating SAP software and design thinking methodology. SAP Leonardo accelerator prepackages software specifically to help [businesses] quickly define the blueprint for the next generation of their business processes.” 

Looking forward, SAP says it describes its accelerators as a combination of design services, the SAP cloud platform and applications, expertise in business processes, and new technologies such as analytics, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning.

Current SAP Leonardo industry accelerators include telecommunications, retail, consumer products, sports and entertainment, travel and transportation, chemicals, utilities, life sciences, oil and gas, and mining.

Curious how to put this in practice? Join this digital transformation webcast on how to build a technology strategy your company can use to take advantage of the latest advances.