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September 26, 2023updated 27 Sep 2023 9:08am

SAP adds new generative AI assistant, Joule, to its cloud portfolio

The German software giant is transforming its business with a focus on cloud and AI as it competes with US hyperscalers.

By Ryan Morrison

SAP is bringing a new artificial intelligence assistant to its product range. Joule is a natural-language, generative AI copilot that will be incorporated throughout the SAP cloud portfolio. The company says it will allow customers to get smarter insights from data and work more efficiently.

SAP is rebuilding its business to focus on AI, embedding the technology throughout its cloud platform (Photo: monticello / Shutterstock)
SAP is rebuilding its business to focus on AI, embedding the technology throughout its cloud platform. (Photo by monticello/Shutterstock)

SAP says the AI copilot will be able to sort and contextualise large amounts of data across multiple systems and will work with its product portfolio and third-party sources. It has been designed to work throughout enterprise systems from HR to finance, supply chain, procurement and customer experience. 

The assistant will allow SAP users to ask a question or frame a problem in natural language and receive a detailed response that draws from real business data. The company gave the example of a manufacturer asking for help understanding sales performance better, and getting details of underperforming regions and potential causes. In addition, it will be able to connect to the supply chain system and offer potential fixes that the manufacturer can review and implement.

“With almost 300 million enterprise users around the world working regularly with SAP cloud solutions, Joule has the power to redefine the way businesses – and the people who power them – work,” said Christian Klein, SAP CEO. He added that “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.”

It has been built on top of existing SAP Business AI offerings, which the company claims are already in use by 26,000 SAP cloud customers. It will be accessible alongside third-party solutions from Microsoft, Google and IBM announced earlier in the year and will be generally available later this year.

SAP’s shift to cloud and AI

This is the latest in a series of moves by SAP to transform its business away from a focus on traditional on-premise IT infrastructure. The company wants to remain relevant to its clients as more business workloads move to the cloud but has struggled in the face of fierce competition from cloud hyperscalers as well as cloud-native CRM providers like Salesforce.

Roy Illsley, chief analyst for Omdia told Tech Monitor the best approach for companies looking to capitalise on generative AI was to have their own large language model but also make others available, so customers have a choice. This is what Salesforce has done and appears to be the route SAP is going down.

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“I think what we are entering with AI is the phase where every major infrastructure/cloud player has some sort of offering that they can claim as native,” Illsley says. “Ultimately I see the future where organizations will select the LLM based on how well it fits the use case they are building private models for. Currently, there are lots of LLMs and every cloud has one, but for me, Salesforce with its AI cloud is the correct approach – have your own LLM, but also make others available so customers can select.”

Read more: SAP boosts digital transformation portfolio with LeanIX acquisition

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