The cloud environment has significantly changed from when it first came to market, with more options available and more capabilities including the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI).
SAP recently announced new capabilities on SAP Cloud ERP, which will help benefit businesses in the ever changing digital environment. The first focuses on increasing the level of automation based on predictiveness and machine learning in the product. Secondly a software development kit, this allows the solution to be extended by partners or clients. The final element is launching a digital geography to locate the most valuable assets quickly, with growing needs for this in the cloud.
Sven Denecken, SVP, Head of Product Management and Co-Innovation at SAP S/4HANA Cloud spoke with CBR regarding the announcements, and how SAP hopes to drive forward with AI in the cloud. He explained how AI is an important factor impacting decisions that are made within the company.
“First of all the concept of AI and machine learning is now a key ingredient of a cloud environment, but this only goes if you have the data at your hands,” Denecken said. “Under the AI umbrella there is the predictiveness of the technology, powered by the data at the hands of a company. Then there is automation for the process of sifting through the data, then machine learning teaches itself what to expect. As part of our Cloud ERP we have a digital assistant, which knows your role and rates the data of priority, giving advice on where to focus first.”
The software development kit that SAP has added to its Cloud ERP will help customers build and expand their platforms much more easily than before. The kit allows easy additions to enhance exactly what the customer needs, leveraging the data to boost innovations.
“The software development kit has been put on top of the entire innovation cycle, meaning that not only can customers push out new technology and features but adopt them fast,” Denecken said. “In Cloud ERP there will be specific topics that the customer or partner wants to add, where they want to leverage a service as a platform approach, but the software on top of this platform will enable them to stay achieve this and also speed up to innovation cycle to more than four quarters.”
How organisation’s manage their data is ever changing as the environment changes, but a way that is becoming most popular is through the use of Open Standards. Denecken explained Open Standards allow organisations to tap into different IoT elements and leverage them to fit to business purpose.
“For me open standards are the currency because I personally should not care what IoT sensor delivers me the data, but be open to whatever sensor, whatever data or whatever measurement would apply to the broad spectrum of IoT. To measure and get the data is not the biggest challenge, it needs to be open,” Denecken said.
“We are using our platform as the basis for the services that leverage every new innovation like IoT and AI. These services are open by nature so I can use machine learning algorithms designed by us or partners, or enable customers or partners to define their own. We are selling the outcome of a product rather than the product itself, which means changing the business model and how to deal with the client. To do this more data is needed and with open standards it will enable leverage of data from anywhere, combined with machine learning.”
Denecken touched on the fact that open standards are a huge risk to businesses regarding compliance, but he also definitively outlines the compliance of SAP’s capabilities with the looming GDPR.
“I think open standards are a risk factor what we need to put into there, but with a cloud ERP we know when and how we are going to tap into the data and this is part of our offering to how we are GDPR compliant. The way you address and access data is where our solution comes in, adding the level of security. Many companies collect data without looking at it, for us it is an inherent part of our offering that once you tap into the data then we check against the access and compliance,” Denecken said.
SAP believes the platform will bring businesses up to speed with the times of technology. Data can massively impact the business outcomes, dependent on what is stored and businesses must begin to adopt the new approaches.
“Most companies are at the beginning of the process, because ERP business processed have not been automated or adopted by machine learning or AI at all in the past. Building on the knowledge we have from an industry and business process perspective, we can now see that building on the openness we want the customers to collect and augment data as much as they can for a dedicated process or automation goal. They must also preserve the data in their reach so when they change their business processes or evolve their offerings, the data is still there.”
SAP aims to sell the outcome of its product rather than the product itself, as Denecken outlines it is about achieving an aim or outcome that should drive technology and the data that is used.
“Technology always needs to have a need to achieve something,” Denecken said. “AI, machine learning and analytics make a business process smarter but it is how we connect the function and automate the process from the get go to make it impactful. Businesses need to identify what can be leveraged from technology, what is the latest innovation delivering to them, or what can be capitalised on the innovations? So those these layers, technology, business process and value is what we see defining the cloud ERP and that’s what we hear from our customers and they want to consume it predominantly by the cloud.”