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Beyond IoT: Everything you need to know about SAP’s new-look Leonardo platform

Scott Carey | May 23, 2017
SAP has relaunched its Leonardo platform as a "digital innovation system", as it seeks to allow customers to take advantage of emerging technologies on top of their business data.

McDermott was keen to emphasis the openness of Leonardo for those all-important net new SAP customers looking for cognitive, IoT or big data solutions. As Leonardo is built on the SAP Cloud Platform, customers "can procure Leonardo and snap it into any architecture or environment you have", McDermott explained, because "the SAP Cloud Platform is an open platform, with all open standards and anybody, including non-SAP customers, can get started".


SAP Leonardo competitors

When asked how Leonardo can stand out in a crowded market, with rival vendors like IBM Watson and Microsoft Azure offering cognitive services, head of products and innovation at SAP Bernd Leukert said: "I agree there are a tonne of platforms out in the market, but these platforms are living in a silo.

"So by opening up our core system, they can access any physical asset data, HR data, any information they have built up over the years within their ERP system, and connect this with sensor data and even marry this with external market data.

"So if you then want to get intelligence and insight into it, other companies use machine learning to push that information into a dedicated other system, we will call it batch processing, getting insight and then throwing it back.

"We are working with APIs to have real time connectivity into the execution system and we offer that over 25 industries. I am not aware of any company on the planet that can offer that connectivity and that comprehensiveness."

So Leonardo sounds like it will be competing with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform or IBM Watson, in that customers can pick and choose which cloud-based technology it wants to leverage to solve a business problem. Rather than something more packaged like Salesforce Einstein, which is baked into its software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to make suggestions and surface insights for users. SAP already does this within its cloud applications, like smart CV matching in Fieldglass or automated service ticketing in Hybris Cloud, but in a less obviously branded way.

As a side note, SAP has taken a partnership approach to developing machine learning capabilities, instead of doing it all in-house. It uses Google open-source project TensorFlow for its machine learning algorithms and Nvidia for the hardware to train these algorithms. 


Getting started with SAP Leonardo

Mala Anand, executive vice president of analytics at SAP, said during her Sapphire keynote that "Leonardo is about the business, we start with a business problem, we apply our design thinking methodologies to define the desired solution and apply rapid prototyping to prove how we can make the solution a reality quickly."

To bring this to customers SAP has launched a "jump-start" programme for Leonardo prospects to get up and running within three months.


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