At Keytree we’ve been long recognised for innovation, so the launch of the SAP Leonardo Digital Innovation System at Sapphire 2017 was of keen interest, and we were glad to see the key concepts chime with our approach.
So what is SAP Leonardo? The key thing is – it is not a single product, but a grouping of products, concepts and even ways of working (design thinking). This approach by SAP follows our thoughts on innovation – it’s not something in a box but applying differing technologies in new ways – for example see our HANAdeck demo that won SAP DemoJam a few years back – that combined Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, VR for advanced visualising and new ways of interacting.
SAP Leonardo consists of Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Analytics, Big Data and blockchain but with the exception of the blockchain services, none of these are new SAP products. The Leonardo brand originally just referred to SAP IoT, Big Data was there with SAP Vora, Machine Learning under the short-lived SAP Clea brand, and SAP have clearly always been strong in Analytics. What is new is bringing all those together into one toolkit, along with a set of industry targeted accelerators.
So why this particular set of technologies?
On one level it puts the major predicted IT growth areas at a similar point in the hype cycle together under one brand. However, there are also practical reasons behind the grouping. For example, IoT having lots of intelligent devices generates lots of data, so there’s an obvious link between the IoT and Big Data elements of Leonardo.
When you’ve got that data, it’s only useful if you understand the patterns in it, hence Analytics and Machine Learning. Coming back to IoT, the differentiator between IoT and remote sensing is that with IoT you have two ways your IoT device can take and act on commands, so completing the circle you may use Machine Learning to decide the optimal way to get your IoT devices to operate.
An essential element of ERP systems is holding and managing ledgers – traditionally centrally controlled and stored as part of the ERP system. Blockchain provides a new more shared approach to this, which the hyperbolic suggest may even provide an existential threat to ERP systems – this is not true as ERPs strengths are business process, not storage, but it’s clearly a complementary area and an area ERPs will need to integrate.
Blockchain, providing distributed secure transaction records that multiple parties can update and view, is a vital technology for SAP.
Blockchain presents a clear point where the elements on SAP Leonardo will tie back to the core business suite. Machine Learning is another, for example, it helps SAP’s co-pilot enterprise digital assistant become more intelligent and sophisticated. We know IoT will increasingly drive supply chain and manufacturing decisions in the business suite, of which Analytics is a vital part.
I was glad to see SAP’s statement that the SAP Leonardo offerings are built upon SAP Cloud Platform. As discussed in my earlier blog on SAP Cloud Platform announcements at Sapphire – SAP has moved towards openness and multi-cloud flexibility for SAP Cloud Platform and these I believe will be vital to the success of SAP Leonardo as an innovation system.
But let’s all be conscious that with innovation, you don’t always know which way things will go but the openness and flexibility of SAP Cloud Platform allow SAP and those of us building solutions on Leonardo to be responsive to change.