Like many large enterprises, SAP is undergoing a profound transformation of its own, said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, during his keynote address at the German business software giant's SAPPHIRE NOW conference here in Orlando, Fla.
Backed by many of today's trendiest technologies, including the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, McDermott said SAP is branching out past its traditional role as "the system of record for the enterprise" to the "system of innovation" for businesses. Key to that initiative is SAP Leonardo, which McDermott characterized as "the biggest move the company has made since HANA," the in-memory database platform that helped usher in an era of real-time business analytics.
Leonardo is a collection of software and services, namely IoT, big data, analytics, blockchain and machine learning, all running on the SAP Cloud. Executives described Leonardo as a "digital innovation system" for enterprises seeking to capitalize on the latest advances in analytics to improve business outcomes.
Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of Analytics at SAP, acknowledged that Leonardo had become synonymous with IoT. In its latest iteration, however, the brand represents a set of integrated, data-driven technologies that can serve as the nerve center for digital businesses. And SAP's customers won't have to go at it alone to implement those technologies within their environments, he assured.
Naturally, no two businesses are exactly alike. The typical enterprise organization requires a significant amount of software customization, which can make a transition to intelligent applications a tricky proposition.
SAP has anticipated this, said Flannagan. Noting that hundreds of thousands of companies run SAP software, Flannagan told eWEEK that "we see an incredible amount of business process and business models." Those insights, together with SAP's research, software development and engineering efforts, have enabled the company to offer prepackaged services that provide customers "80 percent of what you're going to need," he added.
For the remaining 20 percent, SAP will work with customers on prototyping a Leonardo-backed solution. Additionally, the SAP developer and partner community will have access to innovation centers where they can interact with company experts to fashion customized solutions. The first of these SAP Leonardo Centers will be in New York, Bangalore, Paris and São Leopoldo, Brazil.
Leonardo pricing also bucks tradition, Flannagan said. Admitting that "large software vendors get a lot of grief for selling shelfware," SAP has instituted usage-based pricing that will enable SAP's customers to better control and anticipate costs. "Everything that is part of Leonardo is sold as a SaaS model," he said.
SAP's technology partners are also making some major moves.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced on May 15 a new suite of IT hardware solutions for industrial IoT applications that run SAP HANA and Leonardo machine learning. Google and SAP today announced an expansion of their partnership, which includes the certification of SAP NetWeaver for Google Cloud Platform, enabling customers to run products like SAP S/4HANA, Business Suite and Business Warehouse on Google's cloud.